Imagine you’ve just bought life insurance online. The buying experience was seamless and immediate. Everything was online, without the need for a single physical piece of paper. Weeks later, you’re looking at your household budgets on one of your mobile apps. Late one Sunday evening, it occurs to you that it would be more convenient if you had a different debit order date, for your life insurance premium. You remember that during your insurance purchase process, the company had sent you a message on iMessage, empowering you with a channel for customer service. You ask the bot for help in changing your debit order date which it does immediately. It also takes the opportunity to remind you that you can save a thousand rand a month on your premiums by opting into their loyalty program. How could you say no?!
As we’ve all experienced, the global pandemic has changed everything. As consumers, we now spend so much more of our time online. The new normal customer is demanding always-on customer service from their preferred digital channel. And as employers, our workforce has shifted to mostly working from home, including even our customer service agents.
I’ve spent the last year helping one of the biggest local insurance companies to implement our customer service technology to digitally transform their customer experience. The customer has decided to fully embrace our Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement platform at an enterprise scale. In this article I share what I’ve learned and my top 5 ingredients for great customer service technology in 2021:
1 – Make Use of Omni Channels
Modern customer engagement uses messaging that interests, educates, entertains, and solves problems for the customer. It caters to the ‘always-on generation, making it easy for organizations to reach and access the customer at any time of the day. The most important thing is providing your customer with relevant content, that will be of value to them, and reaching them on their preferred digital channels. Consider if they are frequent on voice calls, video, or email. You can also use social media, taking into account what formats of content and multimedia they like to consume. All of this will be provided for you in the Dynamics 365 insights, giving you a 360-degree view of your customer.
Alternatively, customer service agents are making use of WhatsApp to connect with customers and use personalized templates for common and quick responses. You can easily search and share a full knowledge base, with contextual recommendations, and pull in a subject matter expert or team leader, via chat if they need. Your customer will then be enabled to share documents and images which are automatically stored in your document management system, linked to their profile. The conversation is then logged and categorized and later transformed into analytics, which can be used to further optimize customer service in the future.
Fortunately, in a post COVID world, businesses across the globe are empowering service agents to provide an always-on service to customers online, from wherever they are. You too can make use of the omnichannel service capability, allowing you to reach larger and more diverse audiences.
2 – Take Advantage of Artificial Intelligence
The development of AI has widely been adopted for accelerating smart business. It saves you time, automates processes, provides insights, and improves your overall business efficiencies. To help operate more effectively, your organization should take advantage of your service case history, created, for example, on the Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. Using rich analytics will allow you to group customers semantically, using similar topics, and provide you with necessary information and direction into what you should improve. You may need to increase your agent capacity in a particular area or add service options to your virtual bot.
AI is also used when it comes to routing service requests to your team of agents, optimizing across skills, language, and channel availability. You can pick up certain keywords from customer emails, chats, and voice engagements, to suggest solutions and pre-populate information to speed up your service process. Another benefit that AI enables, is a sentiment analysis, which indicates hotspot topics, and inquiries that you can respond to in real-time. Using these AI-powered insights, you can map out and implement your next best actions for customer engagements.
3 – Prioritize the Customer Data Platform (CDP)
The key to enabling digitally transformed customer service is mining data, customer data to be specific. A great number of organizations suffer from siloed customer data, that is placed in multiple systems. The Microsoft Customer Insights solution provides a comprehensive Customer Data Platform (CDP) that allows you to easily map all your customer data across each of your systems. Match it to each unique customer, and merge it into a unified customer dataset, which is surfaced in the servicing system, to provide your agents with a 360-degree view of all your customer’s data.
You can enrich your marketing, sales, and service offerings, with unified data extracted from all behavioral, transactional, and demographical data. This will guarantee that your business enjoys and embraces the benefits of greater visibility, enriched partnerships, an agile business, and improved customer experiences.
4 – Consider Line of Business System Integration
Have you considered whether your point-of-sale system is integrated and aligned with your inventory and accounting systems? Many organizations don’t have a business system integrator and will, for example, struggle with their sales data being used by the accounting division. For a lot of organizations, the solution is to work together and to drop any use of cut and paste manual data entries. It’s inefficient and will cost your business success. To properly service clients, you will need to leverage business applications across the business, using an ERP system for example. Essentially, what any effective integration platform will do, is serve as a data translator between your existing legacy systems. You will be enabled to simply translate data from one file format’s “language” to another – so that your accounting, sales, marketing, and operations, can all be on the same page, and often in real-time.
5 – Utilize Self Service Platforms
Just like you, customers prefer getting help directly online at their own convenience, rather than having to speak to an agent. The Power Apps portal makes it easy for you to provide customers with a self-service website, where they can search your knowledge base, chat with your bot or agents online, log and view the status of service requests, upload supporting documentation, and receive real-time mobile notifications.
Self-service is no longer a “nice to have”. It’s a necessity to provide a positive customer experience. Customers are now preferring a self-service as a convenient way to address customer issues and prefer this over speaking to a customer representative. It also enables support and empowers users to find solutions themselves, often using an automated management platform.
We all instinctively recognize that great customer service is a minimum requirement rather than a business differentiator. As a business, you should explore a suite of complementary customer service technologies that make it easy for you to digitally transform your customer service efforts. At Mint Group, we specialize in helping our clients to realize the benefits of this technology. We have helped our insurance customer prioritize their customer service strategy, and we welcome the opportunity to explore how we could help your business.