Since the early 1990’s businesses in the service industry spent millions of dollars to improve customer service. Their first act was to take the technology du jour, and replicate their current processes within these new technologies. After years of implementing the “best of breed” solutions, customer service, in general remained the same.
Fast forward to today’s service companies and the current technology transition from 1990’s client server environment, to Java based applications, to cloud delivered applications, and you quickly note that in large part, service companies continue to struggle with providing quality customer service that is appropriate and personalized for each customer. How service is delivered comes in many forms and through many channels. But today, the big struggle remains. How does a company deliver excellent customer service to each of its clients, in an appropriate and timely manner without breaking the bank?
Best of breed solutions are great, however the IT spend to integrate them into the overall IT infrastructure and backend systems eventually makes the investment to large. Suite providers, while offering a tightly integrated solution, may be left behind on the functionality scale. The fact that there are no fewer customer service agents today as there was in 1970, debunks many of the cost saving business cases that have been presented in front of the CFO.
The approach, in my humble view, is to leverage your current back end operational systems that are tightly integrated to their service departments in order to provide content appropriate for the customer. The service department must insure that it has enable its multi-channel functionality to accommodate the changing lifestyles of its customer base. Interactions or customer engagements must be enabled for telephony, email, chat, web, and SMS. With all of the smart phone technology in use today and growing at an astounding rate, mobility applications are a requirement, not a nice to have.
A single platform that supports multi-channel functionality, and self-service components will enhance the customer experience. The customer’s desire to interact with a company on their terms, must be heeded. The options for the customer must include things like order status, complaint status, order request, payment methods, service requests, and service updates, to name just a few. All of these interactions must also become part of the customer’s interaction history and available to the company and the customer whenever and wherever it is necessary.
The customer service company of the past and future, is one that has a definable roadmap to accomplish these imperatives.
In the SAP world, products one should be looking into are: SAP Contact Center, SAP CRM, SAP Cloud for Service, SAP Success Factors, and SAP Mobility Solutions.
ECENTA America, Inc.
Director, Contact Center Solutions