Striking Treasure When Customer Service Journey Mapping

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My company has been working with a customer on a case study and an accompanying webinar. While this probably sounds very uninteresting, this customer has a particularly interesting story because it exposes the power of customer service journey mapping.

The primary theme of their story has to do with their return on investment as well as some of the immediate benefits they have realized since going live. While this is great information to share, the role customer service journey mapping played in their success is the real star.

Mapping exercises are typically used to understand where bottlenecks exist in process flows and how to streamline things. This particular customer had also chosen to map to understand exactly what services were being provided and how. You see, there was some confusion and misinformation about exactly how everything was working, so this was also a journey of discovery. But what started as a seemingly simple exercise of determining how to get from a service request to a solution quickly began producing additional treasure for them.

Dead ends

A significant service channel for this customer is the telephone. The majority of their mapping activities involved following telephone numbers through IVRs and menuing systems, so this was a natural starting point. It ended up opening their eyes to issues they didn’t realize they had.

They were already aware telephone hold times were an issue. One of the reasons for choosing a new customer management solution was to improve overall productivity, as well as to offer more self-service options to promote new channels for customers. But mapping the customer service experience exposed flaws in their call routing.

For one, some queues were not adequately taffed to handle the volume of calls they were receiving. In other cases, certain types of calls were routed directly to voicemail–and to voicemail boxes that were only being checked by a single staff member. The result was hours–yes, hours–of hold time and in some cases days to respond to voicemail messages.

A money pit

Their telephone channel is a mix of toll and toll-free options, and the contract with their telecom provider requires they pay for hold time on the toll-free lines. It was considered a low and competitive rate at the time it was negotiated, and the contract had not been given much thought since signing. They decided to look more closely at what those long hold times were costing them.

What they found was stunning. Hold time costs across various departments amounted to nearly $85,000 per year. $85,000 in costs that had zero value in assisting customers. $85,000 that did nothing to help address customer issues, let alone improve customer satisfaction. This finding and their plans on how to address it became an addition to the ROI of the project.

New automation and self-service opportunities

Adding automation and self-service had been one of the more significant reasons for selecting a new customer service management system. Their expected ROI from such additions incorporated expected productivity gains and cost savings from such improvements. Once again, what they found was they hadn’t uncovered all the opportunities.

As they worked through the customer journey mapping, they made a point of looking for new scenarios to automate and to provide customer self-service options. Not surprisingly, their customer service journey mapping struck several new veins of automation opportunities.

Remember those calls condemned to sit on hold and the others sent to voicemail purgatory? They determined the majority of those calls consist of common questions that can be addressed with knowledge base articles. Another typical call type is requests for information specific to their customers, which could be automated through online form data collection followed by emailing the customized forms or sending them via postal mail. With a more robust knowledge management system and automation in a catalog of services integrated with their service website, customers could now more easily self-serve.

A rewarding adventure

When they undertook their customer service journey mapping process, their goals were simple: to fully understand their customer service processes and ease moving to a new customer service management system. They would also improve some processes along the way. As such, they kept their eyes open for improvement opportunities. They are overjoyed they did.

Customer service journey mapping is commonly performed to improve a service process, making the path to a solution more effortless for customers. In this case, it exposed several broken paths as well brought new opportunities to save on costs and offer self-service. As you conduct mapping exercises of your own, keep your eyes open for all the ways improvements can not only improve the customer experience but drive cost savings and better business performance as well.

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