Food for thought: Transforming customer service and support

In our latest series on leading issues in CX, we ask marketing experts from a range of industries to tell us the ways in which technology and data are transforming customer service and support

Technology and data are transforming customer service support in unprecedented ways, making the pursuit of it a strategic priority for CX excellence. In our latest Food for Thought series we asked leading marketers and CX professionals: In what ways are technology and data transforming customer service and support?

Sebastian Poole

Head of operations, Grana

As an e-commerce retailer, we treat the entire customer journey as an opportunity to communicate our brand values, personality and offering to ensure the customer has a consistently exceptional shopping experience at grana.com.

We have and continue to place significant importance on the value of technology to automate and streamline cumbersome processes, improve the consistency and accuracy of customer enquiry responses, and overcome traditional e-commerce barriers to enhance the end-to-end shopping experience.

Sebastian Poole
Sebastian Poole

Although fearmongers liken current artificial intelligence (AI) to that portrayed in dystopian sci-fi films, we prefer to see the advancing technology as complementary to our existing processes and an opportunity to improve the customer's journey online through advanced personalisation, predictive analysis, and as an effective means of issue resolution.

We fervently explore the use of AI with voice and text chatbots, for example, having the potential to provide business efficiency gains, while further adding value to the customer journey in providing screened, personalised and data-driven responses. As a pure e-commerce retailer, we strive to implement technical solutions that can remove the traditional barriers to purchasing online – think sizing issues, returns, and the personalised display of meaningful and timely content – to ensure Grana's unique customer journey surpasses that of competing omni-channel retailers.

However, activating the above would not be possible without acutely maintaining the integrity of our key business and customer data. With a multitude of systems, applications and services exposed to customer data throughout the journey, we have invested heavily into application integration to develop a robust customer data warehouse enabling the business to effectively action data-based initiatives.

Although the aggregation of customer data in a central repository has historically been presented as a major challenge, integration platforms-as-a-service (iPaaS) like Dell Boomi have enabled us to easily overcome these issues through simplifying the complete integration process. In the near future, the potent combination of rich customer data and artificial intelligence will dramatically enhance the omni-channel shopping experience while simplifying and removing existing hurdles.

Hayden Ruawei

Marketing director, amaysim

After growing to be Australia’s fourth-largest mobile service provider, amaysim is now bringing its exceptional value and leading customer experience to energy, home internet and devices.

Customers are sick of the hassles that come with household services. By simplifying those experiences, we empower our customers to get on with living so they can focus more on the things they enjoy most.

Hayden Ruawei
Hayden Ruawei

For amaysim, technology is a key enabler. While it’s important to stay on top of current and emerging technologies, it’s critical to define their role and how best to use their capability to improve the CX. Our plug-and-play architecture enables us to deliver richer experiences to our 1.1 million plus customers and scales easily to support future growth.

Our single-sign-on platform allows customers to manage all of their accounts and services in one place using one login. Once logged in, they can switch plans, add data, additional services and seamlessly manage their account. Customers value their time; it’s important we respect that and use technology accordingly.

We also focus on developing solutions based on real customer insights. A recent example is a handy skill we built for Amazon Alexa. It allows customers to manage their service more naturally, adding another level of convenience and simplicity to the mix.

Data is part of our DNA. The launch of our new $10 unlimited mobile plan was born out of research that showed there was a huge gap in the market. The massive uptake of our $10 plan validates our belief that data-driven decision marketing can drive fast, and sustainable growth.

At amaysim, we build for today, with an eye to the future so that we are always on the front foot when it comes to ways in which we can delight our customers.

Nick Burkett

General manager operations and services, MYOB

As a SaaS business, technology will always underpin our ability to better support customers and deliver services. MYOB’s largest transition has been from purely desktop to cloud-based software, and we’re moving more heavily into in-product and online support from our Australia and New Zealand-based support teams. This is delivered via static help and dynamic interactions such as live chat.

We use data from customers to inform our product roadmap, particularly around prioritising defects or feature gaps. This data is obtained from call data, net promoter score (NPS) and customer service survey (CSAT) responses, community forums and a range of other data points. We also use telemetry data to significantly enhance our self-service tools. This means 90 per cent of our customers are able to self-serve, saving them valuable time.

Nick Burkett
Nick Burkett

Recent research has shown the market is ready for chatbots. The critical change here is that we need to deploy AI in a way that enhances the customer experience. Service and support functions that need a human won’t be eradicated through automation and we pride ourselves on having local teams dedicated to supporting our customers. These functions will become far more relational and advisory than the traditional model of transactional support, which alters the way we look to recruit.

As well as the challenge around changing recruiting profiles and upskilling customer service teams to manage more complex interactions, there’s also the challenge of finding the right balance with acceleration.

At times, technology is progressing faster than we can keep up, at other times we’re waiting for it to catch up (or separating the pitch from the reality). To limit any negative impacts to customer experience or employee buy-in, finding the right balance between leading edge and bleeding edge is crucial.

James Oakley

Head of product management, APAC, Tribal Group

Just as rapidly evolving technologies are altering the way businesses serve their customers,
they’re having a similar impact on how universities interact with students. Processes and workflows that have been in use for decades are poised for replacement as tertiary institutions work to meet the shifting expectations of a new generation hungry to learn.

Dubbed Gen Z-ers, the latest student cohort has grown up in the digital era and is looking to transact and communicate in ways that are different from their older peers. They’re comfortable with digital conversational platforms and expect immediate answers to questions and access to data whenever it’s needed.

In response, growing numbers of universities are evaluating how virtual assistants powered by artificial intelligence can streamline and improve interactions with students. Rather than expecting students to raise queries via email or queue at an information desk, universities are turning to natural language tools that can automate communication channels and deliver faster and more targeted responses.

James Oakley
James Oakley

Platforms based on such technologies can draw information held in a variety of locations across a campus and use it to provide a personalised response. For example, this could be in answer to a student question about academic performance or issues around the payment of outstanding fees. If resolution is not possible, the query can be handed on to a human for further assistance.

Another exciting technology on university radar screens is blockchain. This can be used to deliver digital credentials that are verifiable and irrefutable. Rather than needing to dig out paper certificates to prove academic achievements, students will be able to point to a blockchain-based digital record that shows details of their entire academic career.

The application of emerging technologies like these will enable universities to strengthen their relationship with students through greatly improved communication processes. Just as everything from banking and retail is being transformed through technology and data, so too is education.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu    

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