Customer service is a cornerstone of an organization’s customer experience strategy. Organizations must pay attention to their customer service strategy because:

  • Good customer service experiences boost repurchase probability and long-term loyalty. Customer loyalty has economic benefits as measured by willingness to repurchase, brand loyalty, and likelihood of recommendations. The revenue impact from a 10-percentage-point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion.
  • Poor customer service experiences lead to increased service costs. 75% of consumers move to another channel when online customer service fails, and Forrester estimates that unnecessary service costs to online retailers due to channel escalation are $22 million on average.
  • Poor customer service experiences risk customer defection and revenue losses. Forrester survey data shows that approximately 30% of a company’s customers (or more) have poor experiences. And even if a fraction of these defect, this represents a loss in annual revenue.

But customer service is hard to deliver. The underlying technology ecosystem has grown more complex over time due to new communication channels, deployment methods such as cloud-based solutions, and vendor mergers and acquisitions. As a result, customer service leaders struggle to enforce a consistent process and experience across their workforce. Specific challenges include the need to:

  • Use a consolidated customer service tool set. Transactional data and customer history are often neither consistent nor consistently available across communication channels. Eighty percent of companies have nonintegrated communication channels — phone, email, chat, and web self-service — leading to inconsistent service and poor customer satisfaction scores.
  • Follow consistent processes. Customer service agents use many disconnected apps when resolving a single customer issue. Agents don’t follow consistent discovery processes, which negatively affects their consistency and productivity, increases agent training times, and leads to a higher level of agent turnover due to frustration with the tool set.
  • Comply with policy. Few real-time processes in customer service organizations audit agent actions against ever-changing regulatory compliance requirements, which leads to higher service costs due to incurred penalties.
  • Provide cross-channel customer service in the way that customers want to receive it. In the past 12 months, 68% of customers used the phone, 60% used help or frequently asked questions (FAQs), 54% used email, 37% used chat, 20% used SMS, and 19% used Twitter. Customer service agents supporting these media types need access to the same information in order to ensure consistent service.

Forrester’s playbook for customer service excellence, geared towards Application Development and Delivery pros,  gives tools to customer service organizations to transform their operations via four critical steps: 1) discover: articulate the value of customer service in business terms; 2) plan: set the strategy for customer service operations; 3) act: execute the strategy; and 4) optimize: measure and optimize customer service operations. Download the executive overview for the customer service playbook for AD&D pros here.