Digital Transformation of Customer Service

Digital Transformation, it would appear, has become the new mantra for all businesses. From the near ubiquity of references in keynote speeches, panel discussions, business optimization studies, it would seem that small businesses and large enterprises have all accepted that Digital Transformation (DX) is central to all their efforts to be competitive in the increasingly digital world.

Studies like the 2022 report generated by MarketsAndMarkets estimated the global Digital Transformation market to grow from an estimated $594 billion in 2022 to $1549 billion by the end of 2027, with a CAGR of 21.1%. []

But what is Digital Transformation (DX)? Simplistically, it is the integration of digital technology into all aspects of a business. Chief Digital Officers, a new cadre of C-Suite executives are spearheading this effort. Often starting with a motivation to shed outdated processes and legacies, they are quickly adopting new technologies to improve internal collaboration, communicate better with customers and peers, helping organizations become more responsive through CRM tools and process management tools.

Collaboration tools such as Office365 and GSuite help employees access data and share key resources to help plan and take faster decisions. Communication tools such as Zoom, Skype, WebEx and Slack have streamlined internal as well as external communications into actionable exchanges. CRM tools like Salesforce, Hubspot and ZOHO, have always been a cornerstone of Digital Transformation providing extensive customer data and history, identifying sales opportunities and managing marketing campaigns. Business process practices have, in a similar manner, yielded organizational / manufacturing efficiencies, market responsiveness and drive down overall costs. And at the same time we witnessed an investment boom in new technologies like Cloud, Chatbots, AI, Machine Learning, and Blockchain.

Digital Transformation has been around for many years. But the COVID pandemic helped accelerate its impact. Overnight, it seemed, DX capabilities were not just “nice to have” and part of a “growth plan” but had become “must have” capabilities reflecting “table stakes” for any organization. Industry segments like Technology, Energy, Healthcare, Retail & Commerce, Finance, as well as Manufacturing were quick to embrace Digital Transformation, realizing that it could mean surviving the pandemic.

DX in customer support

Some digital transformation technologies deployed by companies to solve customer support issues include AI-powered chatbots, automated customer service systems, virtual assistants, and self-service portals. Additionally, businesses are using data analytics to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences, and then use this information to provide more personalized customer service. Additionally, businesses are using digital transformation to provide customers with more personalized experiences, such as tailored product recommendations and personalized customer service.

Organizations faced with improving profitability goals are keen to reduce headcount. They are also challenged with an acute skilled worker shortage, one that was further exacerbated by the pandemic. As a result they have begun to rely increasingly on DX capabilities like Knowledge Bases, Community Support, FAQs, ChatBots and escalating to people based exchanges only as a last step. It seems that companies are loath to share a help line phone number for immediate agent-based support.

Communication technologies are thus core to first establishing a live agent session to resolve the issue. They are also central to bringing rich problem-solving capabilities into an already established session. During the session, CRM connections can bring up a history of the previous engagements with the customer, records and contract details. And it is not limited to one-way sharing by the support agent, the customer can also share details of an issue by adding pictures and annotations to the exchange.

But the rich engagement requires the customer to initiate a session by navigating to the company’s web site as a first step. Akin to a “first mile” problem for the customer. The onus is on the customer to first identify the correct web site and then face a series of hurdles and frustrating missteps in identifying the correct page that could help.

An easier approach that can bypass this aggravation is to print a QR code directly on the product, or document. QR codes can contain a wealth of information that are pertinent to the issue – like the make/model of a defective appliance, a customer account number—all without requiring the customer to do anything! Smartphones are equipped with a camera that can automatically scan the QR code and, among other possibilities, invoke the mobile browser. A simple scan of the QR code can take the customer to a web page where they can add additional details if they choose to and bingo – they are in a session where the agent already has much of the required information to quickly resolve the issue. Mobile browsers are very powerful, and solutions are available that support audio/video calls, snapshots, images, documents, and very importantly – annotations. Approaching a very direct connection close to sitting across a table to discuss and resolve issues. A big step in raising customer satisfaction!

About the author : Rao Gobburu

About the author : Rao Gobburu