There are a number of firms that we watch closely at Forrester because they stand out for sustained innovation. Behind the technology giants like Google and Apple, there are a number of established firms that are using technology to adapt rapidly and successfully to changing customer behaviour and needs. One of them is Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Over the past four to five years CommBank has introduced a series of digital innovations to serve its customers better including:
Finest Online. In the course of its "Finest Online" project from 2007 to 2009, CommonwealthBank of Australia redesigned its NetBank Internet banking service with the objectives of building an excellent customer experience and driving online sales. The bank implemented new content and functionality to support the customer journey and integrated new secure site sales processes with in-person channels and the bank's multichannel customer relationship management (CRM) system. The two-year, cross-organizational project boosted online sales, increased customer satisfaction, and improved the bank's image. (Forrester clients can read our case study.)
Only a short couple of years ago, social media was squarely the domain of marketing and public relations. But consumers changed the rules. They didn’t want to use social media purely for engagement; they wanted to talk to someone behind the brand to get support and share their experiences.
eBusinesses have responded. According to a recent study from Booz & Company, 75% of marketers using social media identify customer service as a primary use of their social media platform.
Unfortunately, there is a gap between objective and performance. A large reason for this gap is the role of customer support in social media leadership. According to the same Booz & Company survey, only 26% of respondents describe customer service as a department responsible for contributing leadership to social media strategies. This doesn’t surprise me. I speak frequently with organizations that describe customer support’s role as more involved than a year or two ago – typically support provides manpower to assist in support-related social content – but they are not deeply involved in driving strategy.
I believe consumer behavior will continue to push eBusinesses to re-evaluate their approach to social media and move to more strategic integration between marketing, branding, and customer service. Why? Consumer adoption of both direct social support and peer-to-peer support has exploded in the last two years. See “Understanding Customer Service Satisfaction To Inform Your 2012 eBusiness Strategy.” Further, the majority of consumers expect a reply to their positive and negative comments on Facebook and Twitter.
“ITIL, ITIL, ITIL” is all that many of us hear these days when it comes to improving IT service management (ITSM) maturity or the availability of ITSM good/best practice and guidance (for the "Little Britain" fans out there imagine Tom Baker reading this intro). Many talk (and write) about the alternative or complementary frameworks, methodologies, and standards; but neither COBIT nor ISO 20000 (amongst others) have yet gained the market traction and collective consciousness of ITIL, the “ITSM best practice framework.”
ITIL is and will continue to be the de facto choice for most IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals. Having said this, however, many I&O organizations continue to look at the possibilities of using multiple frameworks, methodologies, and standards in tandem to help better deliver against business and IT issues – what is commonly called an “ITIL plus” or “plus” strategy, e.g., ITIL plus COBIT.
Another body of service management good/best practice, the Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (USMBOK), has long been lauded by ITSM thought leaders; but it has, to date, lacked the profile of ITIL in particular. Importantly, it works with, and is differentiated from, ITIL – it is not an ITIL competitor, more of a “companion piece” that supplements ITIL on both strategic and operational levels. Hopefully you noticed the deliberate naming of USMBOK – that there is no “IT” in it. It is about service management not IT service management – a solution to the issue that we often place too much emphasis on the “IT,” and not enough on the “SM,” element of “ITSM.”
One of the essential differentiators of great customer service experiences is the human interaction.
Some folks want a chatty interaction with a full narrative on the weather. Others just want quick and friendly contact. But the bottom line is this we all want to have an experience that leads us to feel appreciated. This human interaction is key element to one of the three tenets of our Customer Experience Index: "How enjoyable were they to do business with?"
I considered this recently while at my neighborhood pharmacy. The company offers best-in-class customer service technology. They proactively remind me of prescription refills, they have a sophisticated mobile app, and their store layout is easy to navigate.
But I am invariably invited from the queue to the cash register by a shout of "Next!" and the only words offered to me are the sum I owe. For all their best-in-class retail and mobile strategies, I never walk away feeling that the company is enjoyable to do business with. Instead, I walk away wondering when was "you're welcome" replaced with "uh-huh"?
A great customer service experience is the result of the right technology, processes, and the human factor. To ensure the human factor isn’t marginalized, eBusiness leaders must:
Embed the ideal customer experience in your culture. Make it clear what customer service exchange will reflect your brand. Be explicit. Train and reward employees to personify your ideal brand experience.