In your company, is the customer service function considered more of a cost center or profit center?
Of course, in most businesses the customer service operation is not counted on to bring in revenues that add directly to the bottom line. But in the best-run companies around the world, the contribution of good customer service to the profitability of the business is undeniable.
If you're a customer service or sales professional, you already know how important great customer service is to your company's competitive position. According to Microsoft, 90% of U.S. consumers rate the level of customer service they receive as a key decision factor in choosing the companies with which they will do business. And their demands are becoming increasingly high. As another Microsoft report puts it,
The expectations of "digitally empowered customers" for outstanding customer service are "soaring."
Yet, if your company is like most, its customer service operation could be better than it is. Many businesses have been reluctant to commit themselves to implementing the highest level of customer service because they assume that doing so will require a greater financial investment than they are able to make.
In particular, a top-notch customer service function in today's business and technological environment requires a high degree of digital automation. And creating the sophisticated and complex applications necessary for achieving that level of automation, using traditional software development methods, can be a time-consuming and expensive undertaking.
But with modern digital technology, that need no longer be the case. The low-code approach to developing software is bringing about a revolution in the ability of companies to create the kind of customer service operation that will be a distinct asset to the business.
Why automation in customer service is key
In a recent Gatepoint Research Customer Service Trends survey, respondents were asked what they felt were the top challenges facing their customer service operations. The #1 response, at 38%, was "Too many manual processes."
In a typical customer service function, customer service reps (CSRs) spend far too much time, energy, and focus doing manual tasks like copying and pasting data from one system to another. Because traditional customer service processes are often put together using a jumble of legacy systems, newer web portals, and desktop applications such as Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, workers may be required to log into and out of multiple internal and external systems or websites, repeatedly reading data from one screen and typing it into another.
Such reliance on manual processes is a substantial obstacle to building an effective and efficient customer service operation. Such processes are complicated, slow, and error-prone, and impose severe limits on how responsive CSRs can be to the customers with whom they interact.
And customers notice!
What customers expect—and too often don't get!
Today's customers have high expectations for their interactions with your customer service function.
For example, when they call in, they expect the CSR to be able to immediately supply complete and accurate information about the company's products, services, and procedures. But with manual processes, that's hard to do. According to a report by IBM,
"In a 6 minute customer service call, 75% of that time is devoted to agents doing manual research, with valued customer interaction at a dismal 25%."
And making customers wait for answers to their questions can be disastrous: HubSpot reports that 90% consider getting an "immediate" response to their customer service questions as important or very important. If you put them on hold while the CSR searches for information, 60% will hang up after one minute.
In fact, at whatever time their issue arises, customers want immediate, 24/7 access to the answers they need. But adequately staffing a customer service operation around the clock can be prohibitively expensive.
Customers also hate having to repeat themselves. If they've had previous encounters with your system, they expect CSRs to have immediate access to all the information they've already provided.
And most importantly, customers want to get their issue resolved the first time they call, without having to call back multiple times. This is so key to customer satisfaction that FCR—the First Call (or Contact) Resolution rate—has been called "the KING of all call center metrics."
But how can companies that have limited customer service budgets meet such high customer expectations?
Low-code to the rescue!
Just adding more staff to your current operation is, for the vast majority of companies, not a viable option for creating a top-notch customer service function. But low-code automation allows you to provide a high level of customer service without exploding costs.
What is low-code? It's an approach to software development that allows both IT professionals and non-technical workers to create sophisticated applications visually, by dragging and dropping pre-built modules and templates into the appropriate logical arrangement on a Graphical User Interface (GUI), rather than by writing procedural code statements. Because as much as 90% of the app's logic is embodied in the pre-built modules, low-code development is far quicker, easier, and cost-effective than traditional software development methods.
With low-code, you can quickly create apps that seamlessly connect various parts of the business with one another. Low-code development platforms facilitate integration of the apps you create with external APIs, libraries, web services, databases, and legacy systems. Data can be delivered from wherever it resides in the system to where it's needed (thus eliminating information silos), properly formatted for the particular use case.
All information regarding a customer, their issues, and their previous contacts can be consolidated and made available to CSRs in real time, minimizing wait times.
Low-code is also being used to implement customer service chatbots, which provide 24/7/365 access to information without requiring the participation of a human CSR. A study by Juniper Research anticipates that by 2022, chatbots will be able to handle as many as 90% of customer queries without human intervention.
And customers seem to like this kind of automation. According to one survey, 67% of respondents had used a customer service chatbot in the previous year. As Norma Dove-Edwin, Chief Data and Information Officer at Places for People Group commented in an article published by eSystems partner OutSystems:
"Customers want to consume services digitally and no longer want to wait, make a call or even send an email."
Low-code can help your company deliver great customer service!
Today's customers will continue to expect more and more from the companies they choose to do business with, and only by constant optimization and improvements to their experience can you remain competitive. Low-code enables you to efficiently develop and deploy the automations that will allow you to provide an excellent customer service experience at a cost point your business can afford.
eSystems is the preeminent low-code house in the Nordics. Working closely with our expert platform and integration partners, we can help you automate your customer service operation quickly and cost-effectively, and make it a valued asset to your business.
If you'd like to know more about what eSystems low-code can do for your company, please contact us today!
WRITTEN BY: Reggie Rusan | Chief Technology Officer