Self- Service is the New Trend in Customer Service Space
Could you talk about the challenges and trends that have been impacting customer service space lately?
Customers have always been in focus and are nothing new in IT or businesses. Now we are dealing with the Alexa and Siri generationsfor the last few years. Customers have less patience and need answers to their questions instantly. Nobody likes to wait on hold for a long time listening to music. Therefore we are trying to implement a couple of new things like chatbots and voice bots so that customers can get service as soon as possible. My peers and I have observed that now a constant amount of calls are handled through chatbots rather than going to a live agent, which is a good trend. From the IT perspective, I have observed that we are not spending so much time in our tactical activities. Spending time with our business partners and getting involved in the discussions helps us to understand the exact need and implement the changes or develop the system accordingly. Becoming part of the business decisions to understand the roadmap aligned brings together the IT objectives with the business objectives.
What keeps you up at night when it comes to customer service space?
Business demands change rapidly. Everybody wants to be a disruptor and innovator. No one likes to keep doing the same things repeatedly and everyone wants to do things differently or a new thing. From the IT perspective, we need to ensure that our system is capable, flexible, resourceful, and up to date with the technology that businesses want us to implement. As for IT, it takes time to come up with the systems necessary to support the ideas that business coins within no time. Also, the availability of resources and talent is equally important to implement those ideas. So one thing that keeps us awake at night is,“how do I ensure my IT space is current and ahead of the curve?” Because if you are not ready for the changes then you will remain behind in the race and no one wants that. And second, how to keep the existing cost structure as we cannot spend extravagantly on everything new because it impacts ROI.
Customers want everything at their fingertips with fast, accurate, and quick services without wanting to wait
Could you elaborate on the projects that you have been working on? Please shed light on the technological and process elements that you have leveraged to make these projects successful.
We have already implemented chatbots for the customers for fast response. We are now experimenting with RPA. The implementation of automation is driven by two factors: one is the costs of optimization, and the second, isadding value to the task of operational workers. We are trying to add more value by automating the process and making the tasks interesting for the employees.
Being a CIO, I would say that we do not have to reinvent the wheel. Opting for the more popular and established technology or pre-build solutions help in providing solutions to businesses quickly. We should try to adopt industry-standard systems and technology rather than creating unique ones every time, because by doing so, we are putting ourselves at risk of creating huge projects each time when we upgrade. If we keep it generic, those upgrades and projects become much leaner. Another thing is, that in an M&As, the easy and quick integration of ecosystems of the companies and partners is only possible if they keep processes and systems generic using similar technologies and platforms. A lot of time companies feel they are unique, doing something that nobody else is doing. These firms may be right from a business perspective, but from a process perspective, it does not work. Choosing the proven and robust technology and platforms is a better choice than experimenting with new and different ones. For e.g.: We chose Salesforce platform as our CRM platform because it is more robust, and adapted, and we can get more partners that work on the platform than any other platform now.
What kind of future do you envision in customer service space
From the customers perspective, the future is that they want fast, accurate, and quick services. Everything at their fingertips without any waiting time. Since it has been customer-centric, we have to come up with tools and technology for them. From a business’s perspective, with self-serve customers cost will be reduced, and service will be 24/7. Hence we worked a lot on the IVR system, chatbot system and portal tools as customers like torather go online and do things themselves than call somebody. So we have to create better processes so that customers can help themselves.
Would you like to give a piece of advice to your peers out there?
I am personally a big proponent of buying when it comes to building vs. buy because if somebody has made a system which is more generic and industry-standard why should we build from scratch? We should adopt and enroll in the processes that the system is offering us, because if we change it, then it might become the elephant. We need to change our processes to industry standards processes that the tool has been offering. We need to put our energy and effort into change management in our partnership. Pick small certain change management for technological development that doesn't change the system and would run much longer.