Are your support services as SMART as they could be?


Everything is getting smarter these days. Our phones, watches, cars, and even refrigerators and toasters are tracking what we’re doing to better anticipate and meet our needs, so why not our support services? 

As we look to 2020, the time is right to consider whether we are doing everything we can to deliver smart, personalized, proactive service that can create transformative, highly satisfying experiences.  The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) has some ideas in its “The State of Support Services 2019” report of how organizations can start to evolve their support to make it SMART for:

 

 

  • The business, which means it is strategic, mobile and digital, leveraging Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to generate revenue and transformation 

  • The customer, which means it delivers simple, meaningful, anticipative, relevant, and timely service

  • The employee, which means it provides stability, maximum engagement, and access to tools and training to reduce effort and develop trust

How would this work for your organization? We have a few ideas to consider, based on the insights revealed in the TSIA report. 

 

1.  Make sure support is strategic  

TSIA found “a combined 58% of companies still operate support services as cost centers or breakeven/cost recovery organizations,” as opposed to profit centers. These organizations often view support teams and activities as adjuncts to their business, missing the important contributions that services can have to their company’s overall success. 

However, when organizations see their services business as a way to help them generate revenue growth, they tend to give it the importance it is due and appropriately incorporate it into their strategic planning and investments. The TSIA Support Services Benchmark confirmed this leads to “much better performance across a significant number of performance metrics.” 

Key practices that TSIA has seen in organizations that have made the shift include: 

  • Putting a strategy in place to drive greater service revenue 
  • Ensuring the support organization has input into the company’s product lifecycle and planning processes
  • Proactively updating the support organization on sales and marketing activities that could impact demand planning

ServiceNow has seen the benefits firsthand when companies make service a strategic priority. For example, Telia Company worked to break down the silos that separated their service and support teams from the rest of the organization, completely rethinking their processes and linking their systems on the backend, so they could deliver a simple, unified customer experience. 

Using ServiceNow, they were able to transform the way their customer service and support service agents work.  It helped them collaborate and find and share information. With ServiceNow(r) Knowledge Management, they were able to support better decision-making and resolve issues faster. 

 

2. Use AI and machine learning to improve experiences–for both customers and employees

For TSIA recommends organizations “approach AI as a way to improve roles and automate mundane repetitive tasks within those roles.” If organizations can start to use AI and machine learning to streamline processes and automate workflows, they can transform both their employee and customer experiences. 

ServiceNow has seen many customers use machine learning to enable their agents to do more with less, while delivering better service in the same amount of time. For example, it can be used to: 

  • Improve agent productivity with recommendations, knowledge, and community content

  • Resolve issues faster by applying workflows that are orchestrated from notification to resolution 

  • Reduce future case volume by identifying opportunities for automation

  • Drive continuous improvement by monitoring service costs, KPIs, or usage 

  • Enable proactive issue identification, via correlations and pattern recognition, to mitigate large scale impacts

By using machine learning to eliminate routine, mind-numbing tasks, organizations can enable agents to focus on more meaningful work, which leads to greater employee satisfaction that, in turn, generates more gratifying customer experiences.  

Swiss Re recognized this correlation, noting “employee satisfaction is key to building strong, lasting customer relationships.” It is one reason they made “trailblazing changes to provide a next-generation employee experience...to make sure [their employees] can focus on their work and are not distracted by operational and administrative processes.”

 

3.  Engage people the way they want to engage

TSIA found: “Today, customers are driving channels of engagement that support organizations [that] are not ready or even willing to offer.” Preferences for self-service, community, chat, and SMS/text options are only going to continue to grow, so including these channels in the service mix is critical to being able to offer customers the opportunity to engage, when, where, and how they want.   

When customers have choice and control over their interactions with companies, many benefits follow, including more personal support, improved communications between customers and the business, and loyalty and trust. 

Have you implemented any or all of these practices for your organization? If not, 2020 is a great time to start. We would love to help you make your customer service SMARTer to set you up for success in the new year. For more information on how ServiceNow can help, please check out ServiceNow Customer Service Management

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