Outstanding customer experience (CX) is like a secret sauce, and everyone wants the recipe. If you add the right ingredients at each stage of the customer’s journey with your organization, you can create unprecedented customer loyalty and product revenues. Once you have perfected your CX sauce, you can bottle and sell it to grow your organization and market position.
In today’s uncertain world, customers crave speed, automation, and simplicity. They gravitate toward innovative cloud technology—as well as support and services offerings that quickly meet their needs with a low- or zero-touch experience. Finally, they value time spent on strategic activities with advisors and business partners.
Your organization’s goal is to consistently exceed expectations at every step of your customers’ journey with innovative, automated, seamless solutions that enable their success and make their lives easier.
For example, you can improve CX by digitizing product discovery, evaluation, quoting, deployment, support, upgrades, add-ons, and renewals—and by simplifying licensing, pricing, and product features.
Your CX sauce can be the “product” that differentiates you from the competition and keeps your customers coming back for more.
Services and Support CX Trends
According to a 2020 Gartner article on service technology trends, service leaders are making “steady investments in established and emerging technologies, both customer-facing technologies and those that help streamline back-end processes.”
In the article, Gartner shares that today’s customer service and support leaders remain bullish on technology, although they understand that returns are not immediate. Self-service is the new king, and investments continue to grow in web chat, chatbots, and other cool technologies. Technologies that support back-office operations and optimize performance provide a high return on investment (ROI). And the value of predictive analytics is widely recognized, although many organizations are just beginning to venture into this area.
A recent ZDNet article covers the top 8 trends shaping digital transformation in 2021, and they all revolve around digitizing services to meet rising customer demands, developing self-service solutions, using application programming interfaces (APIs) to become more agile and drive automation, and introducing microservices to quickly build new customer experiences.
Understanding the Customer Journey
To understand how to deliver better CX through modernizing and simplifying offerings and processes, you must understand the entire customer journey. It starts from the time a customer first discovers, evaluates, and purchases your company’s products—and goes all the way through their deployment, use, support, renewals, and refreshes.
To offer a highly differentiated CX, you should constantly measure and take proactive actions to improve your customers’ experience in every possible way. At a high level, the customer journey conversation is as simple as this:
- “Are you considering our product? Let me show you how it can quickly and easily help you succeed.”
- “You’ve decided to buy or subscribe to our product? Fantastic! Here’s how you can get the best results and value.”
- “You’re using our product and want to avoid issues? We’re behind the scenes—using predictive machine learning (ML)/artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to solve issues before you even realize there could have been a problem.”
- “You’re experiencing an issue? Let me help you solve it—now!”
- “How’s our product working for you? How can I enhance it to make it work even better?”
- “You ready to renew or upgrade? Let me show you how to achieve the best outcome with the least disruption.”
Your team needs to be in the trenches with your customers—day in and day out—providing strategic guidance to ensure their success. And to free up more time for this deep engagement, it’s increasingly important that you stay focused on bringing digitation, automation, and simplification to as many internal- and customer-facing processes as possible.
The best strategy is to offer digital support for high-volume, low-complexity (L0 and L1) work and interactions—which will give knowledge workers more time to deliver personal, proactive experiences to customers. The diagram below shows an example of a shift from yesterday’s model to tomorrow’s model:
The Goal: Modernize and Simplify
Digital transformation is hard work, but most organizations understand that we must change to meet evolving customer expectations. Here are some examples of organizational challenges that require digital intervention:
- No standardized customer relationship management (CRM) platform or 360-degree customer view that enables support, renewals, and overall CX
- A lack of effective workflows or efficient tools and systems for key processes
- Low visibility into customer project status
- An inability for partners to access the information they need to serve customers
- A traditional “build-versus-buy” mentality that’s misaligned with the customer perspective
One important step your organization can take is to rearchitect your CRM tools around the subscriber, with seamless integration and the flexibility to implement new services and better manage the entire CX. You will be able to better integrate sales with pipeline and forecasting.
Another great exercise is to review every single customer touchpoint—whether digital or human, reactive or proactive—to ensure a 360-degree CX view and seamless handoffs. Try to rid your organization of silos and think from the outside-in, not the inside-out.
Rethink all your organization’s tools, systems, and workflows—with a customer-centric, single-pane-of-glass view into predictive analytics, real-time quotes, automatic renewals, and digitized services and support wherever possible.
Evolve digital support with an emphasis on self-service, ease-of-use, and cloud support. Consider transforming your organization’s digital support experience by using support APIs. Instead of having to call a support line, customers often appreciate in-product support experiences where they can open cases, troubleshoot, and run analytics that predicts and avoid disruptions. Think in terms of intelligent agents, chatbots, and mobility intelligent/enterprise search functionality.
In summary, here are a few ways to modernize your services and support organization offerings—by using analytics, automation, and simplification for a better CX:
- Use data and analytics to identify CX improvements that amplify the value of our industry-leading products and solutions and provide automated prescriptive actions.
- Automate high-volume, low-complexity manual back-office tasks.
- Enable process and knowledge sharing improvements and digital self-service.
- Design and deliver cloud-friendly, modernized digital support.
- Deploy a virtual professional services delivery mechanism.
- Progress toward integrated 360-degree CRM.
Listening to the Voice of the Customer
If you are not sure how to provide great CX, why not go straight to the source? This is what having a great voice-of-the-customer program is all about. To succeed, organizations need to listen to their customers.
One way to do this is by developing a comprehensive voice-of-the-customer program to ensure that your priorities are aligned with customer expectations. This way your product, support, and services teams can make data-driven decisions based on true customer experiences.
A good program must focus on internal and external intelligence—from online communities, discussions and polls, interviews and surveys—to industry and analyst insights and benchmarks. It should include customer and partner advisory boards to keep the communication flowing and ensure that proper action is taken to guarantee the highest levels of customer success and satisfaction.
Industry standard measurements, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer satisfaction (CSAT), are very helpful. These tools can improve CX and satisfaction—which translates into revenue and other business gains. Surveys can help your organization measure CX across the entire customer journey.
Time to Make the Sauce
In today’s world, your organization needs to find innovative ways to digitize and simplify. When you focus on providing outstanding solutions, services and support at every stage of the customer’s engagement, that’s where true CX magic happens.
It is all about exceeding your customers’ expectations and helping them through their digital transformation and cloud journeys. That, my friends, is how the secret sauce gets made.