Warm to the Touch

I read a tweet recently from @nathan_ford in which he points out the interesting dichotomy between the customer experiences of a physical retail store and the Web store of the same retailer. In the former, the customer receives personal attention and the staff is likely to offer and apply whatever discounts that might be applicable, just because they are being friendly. In the latter, the same customer may have been sent a discount code and if they misplace it or forget to apply it, well c’est la vie.

This dichotomy is played out in the enterprise world by CSPs too. CSPs want to reduce the costs of delivering customer service by increasing efficiency and using low cost channels for service such as IVR and web self-service. At the same time, account teams at those same CSPs provide personalised customer service to their enterprise customers when they ask for it.

The resulting contrast in customer experience does not go unnoticed. In recent market research into B2B customer preferences for ICT services, enterprise customers were emphatic in stating their preference (80%) for face-to-face account management. They want that service provided directly by the CSP rather than through a reseller (almost three quarters of respondents said so). Furthermore, a quarter of customers expressed at least some type of dissatisfaction with web self-service.

Evolving attitudes towards the digital world aside, it need not be this way – for either CSPs or their enterprise customers. For many CSPs the difficulties and much of the cost to deliver superior customer service stems from complex systems and organizations which have aligned to products, rather than customers. Customers receive better service from human beings because those human beings’ ability to apply knowledge, experience and empathy to cover the execution gaps that exist in all large organisations.

At Pega, we are helping global CSPs provide superior customer service, irrespective of channel, by focusing on customer processes rather than systems, data and interfaces. We help them build customer process management platforms that abstract the complexity of legacy systems and provide guided and consistent customer service interactions through any channel. Business and IT collaborate to design and build customer processes once. Those processes are then customised at the point of use according to the customer, the user, the service offering or even the geographical region, etc.

Taking this customer-centric approach to superior customer service means that CSPs can deliver exactly what their enterprise customers demand; tailor made service. They can deliver it with increased efficiency, both for higher cost channels such as the call centre and in low cost channels such as the web or even social media.

Those customers receive exactly the same level of service through which ever channel they choose. Their experience no longer depends upon training and heroic efforts on the part of account managers or CSRs. The customer process management platform takes care of the hard stuff, leaving the CSP to provide a friendly face and a warm handshake... even if the face is in the form of an avatar. Feel free to let me know your thoughts by tweeting to me: @russell_palmer

You can download the Enterprise ICT Spending Preferences & Needs Report to discover how you should be managing your enterprise customer relationships and monetizing services in this increasingly competitive environment.