Composability in Customer Service: What is it and why it’s important
What is composability?
While there are several ways to describe composability, I refer to Gartner who describe a composable enterprise as ‘an organisation that can innovate and adapt to changing business needs through the assembly and combination of packaged business capabilities’. The key focus here being on business capabilities rather than technology. And when applying this to systems design this can be thought of simply as the ability to reuse existing assets and reassemble them in different ways in order to satisfy specific business requirements. The move to composability within enterprise architecture reflects the need for organisations to be more adaptable, innovative, and reactive to changing business needs and customer expectations.
Within a composable architecture, organisations can combine modular business capabilities together to deliver experiences to their customers and employees based on their own specific needs and imaginations. This can provide the flexibility to deliver experiences that can truly differentiate themselves against their competitors and to decouple these from some of the core processes and data that might be locked away in the ERP backbone of an organisation.
And these days there are many application providers out there offering specific capabilities that can provide new opportunities to organisations, which has resulted in the number of implemented applications within organisations increasing dramatically. Often these applications are not even being procured or implemented with the help of the IT department. While this in itself can present headaches and challenges with integration caused by different data models, it at least highlights the demand from the business that they need access to new and varied capabilities to provide the end-to-end processes that their customers demand.
This, therefore, is where a composable approach can be advantageous.
So how does this relate to Customer Service?
Customer Service departments are seen by organisations as having the most significant responsibility for delivering on their customer experience objectives (Source: Gartner – Customer Service & Support Leadership Vision 2023). And while there is definitely a preference and focus to move many service interactions to a self-service model, there is still very much a desire for human interaction. According to PWC, 75% of consumers want to interact with a real person, which still puts a lot of onus onto human agents to deliver a great experience.
At the same time, many customer service teams are tasked with handling customer queries and requests that need access to information, data, systems, and workflows from across the organisation. Whether this be checking store information, returning items, updating sales orders, booking service appointments, checking stock, updating customer preferences or raising complaints. It turns out agents can need anything from 3 to 7 different systems in order to get the job done.
How many systems/tools must you be proficient with in order to do your job well?
Reps report needing, on average:
- 7 systems to do their job well
- 3-4 systems to handle a typical issue from end-to-end
- 5 systems to handle a difficult issue from end-to-end
Source: Gartner – Customer Service & Support Leadership Vision 2023
Great customer service agents are often highly skilled chair-swivellers, alt-tabbers and cut-n-pasters, but call centres are also often dealing with high turnover of staff and increased pressures to improve efficiency and call-times, so making the data, workflows, and customer information available to the agents from these systems in an easy to consume way becomes an important strategy for Customer Service leaders. Not only to improve customer experience, but also to improve employee experience and thus make a positive impact on staff retention as well.
And this is where composability of solutions and customer service meet for a perfect alliance.
Enabling service agents through a fully connected agent desktop is the key to a high-quality, efficient, and value-added customer service experience. if an organisation can compose a solution that combines all of the 3 – 7 systems that the agent needs into a simplified, easy to access view, this will not only increase the agent satisfaction, but can really start to help drive improvements in key service KPIs such as customer satisfaction and average call handling times.
And this is exactly the idea behind the composable strategy within SAP Service Cloud. The new microservices based composable architecture is enabling us to develop our solutions much more quickly to deliver new innovation as standard, whilst providing the scalability, availability and performance that a busy call centre needs.
But crucially, it also allows our customers to quickly deliver new requirements and processes by easily extending the solution and plugging in other components, whether from their own or their partners landscapes.
And after all, an organisation’s ability to adapt quickly and be proactive to their customers’ demands as well as keep their own employees happy, is key to delivering and maintaining differentiating customer experiences (CMS).
Exciting times ahead.