Nitin Badjatia, Head of Product Strategy for ServiceNow’s Customer Service Management product line, discussed the importance of integrating proactivity into customer service.
At the outset of his thought leadership presentation at the 2018 Customer Experience Leadership Forum held on April 17 in Chicago, Badjatia noted that it’s a very interesting time in customer service. “As somebody who runs product strategy, it’s great to have the tools to think about what the future’s going to look like and actually build it,” he said.
“In 2011, Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled ‘Software is Eating the World.’ He discussed what was about to transpire across the globe regarding industry transformation. Analysts started picking up on the message beginning with Gartner in 2013 and followed by Forrester in 2014, IDC in 2015, HBR in 2016, and Forbes in 2017. To summarize what Andreessen wrote about, we’re heading into a data-driven future. This means there are two buckets of activity going on—reinventing the core and innovating the future. Reinventing the core refers to reinventing who you are, what you’re doing, optimizing processes, and defining efforts from that perspective. Innovating the future involves understanding your data and coming up with new business models, products, and channels,” said Badjatia.
“We’re heading into a data-driven future. This means there are two buckets of activity going on—reinventing the core and innovating the future.”
“Along the way, we’ve seen the rise of digitally native businesses. Few of these companies have physical assets. What they have is data. This is a fundamental shift in the way the business model functions. Today, every company has a digital initiative of one sort or another.”
He then related a recent experience he had while watching a movie on Amazon with his four-year-old daughter in which the transmission was interrupted in spots. Thirty minutes later, he was notified that he’d received a five-dollar credit from Amazon because of the service issue, even though he felt the problem was probably with the Internet provider. “In a digital economy, when things are always on and always connected, companies have the power to know what’s going on. And we, as customers, know they know, and we expect a higher level of service. This is a fundamental shift in the way customer service is delivered,” he noted.
“In a digital economy, when things are always on and always connected, companies have the power to know what’s going on. And we, as customers, know they know, and we expect a higher level of service.”
“As a result, customer service itself must transform. Traditional customer service is reactive: there has to be an issue for customer service to engage. A big problem is that no permanent solution to the issue is developed as part of this process. There’s a lack of visibility into those broader trends,” said Batjatia.
“Customer service for the future we’re building should be effortless. We shouldn’t have to think about where or how to connect. The company should be connecting directly with the customer. The contact center is rarely where the problem started and rarely where the solution resides,” he said.
“We also need new measures. In call centers in the mid-‘80s and ‘90s, the standard measure was AHT—average handle time—which meant getting the customer off the phone as quickly as possible. It was a terrible measure. In the last decade, we’ve moved to FCR—first contact resolution. We work with the customer until we solve the problem. It’s good, but it’s not enough. We need to be looking at ‘time to cure.’ The bar is being set at how quickly we eliminate that exception from the entire ecosystem.”
“We need to be looking at ‘time to cure.’ The bar is being set at how quickly we eliminate that exception from the entire ecosystem.”
To wrap up, Badjatia noted, “The brand’s promise is delivered through customer service. One of our clients doesn’t use the words ‘call center’ or ‘contact center.’ They call it an ‘exception center.’ Only exceptions come in. Everything else is solved for and removed from the ecosystem as quickly as possible. They’ve set a (perhaps impossible) bar: By 2020, they want to initiate 80% of contact with their customers. This is a mindset shift,” he noted.
“Within my product team, our tagline is we’re building customer service applications to maximize the customer’s realized value of the product or service that we deliver. This isn’t about average handle time. We want to deliver value and be in the position to be the brand defender.”