Connecting To Better Customer Service Wp091048
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Connecting To Better Customer Service Wp091048

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  • 1. Today’s IT and Business Leaders on Market TrendsConnecting toBetter CustomerServiceDoes your company have what it takes to succeed?In an era of constant change, organizations face enormous pressure to Success is aboutoptimize performance and maximize business results. It’s no secret that voice and datanetworks play an increasingly crucial role in determining whether an organization flour- smart and strategicishes or flounders. Today’s organizations must embrace innovation, achieve a high level ofresponsiveness and transform customer information and feedback into actionable results. investments in a In fact, customers exert greater influence over business decisions and, with the Internetat their fingertips, have more choices than ever before. Unfortunately for businesses, converged IP net-there’s often a disconnect between objectives and the information technology required to work infrastucture.achieve the desired results. With growing economic pressures, IT challenges and global-ization, a strategic focus is paramount. Organizations that address these key issues—and eliminate bottlenecks and processbreakdowns—are likely to gain a competitive advantage. Likewise, businesses that build arobust network infrastructure emerge as more agile, innovative and global in their think-ing and actions. They’re able to transform customer service and boost bottom-line profits. About CIO2CEO:Confronting the Customer Challenge This peer-based thoughtOutstanding results and excellent customer service don’t occur by happenstance. Too leadership program analyzesoften organizations develop a tangle of systems that, at some point, becomes a hindrance. quantitative and/or qualitativeA 2009 IDG Research Services/Fortune Custom Publishing research study of 258 orga- research from actual CIOs andnizations found that fewer than one-third of the surveyed IT executives believe that their CEOs. The resulting insightcompanies are “highly effective” at adapting to changing customer needs and priorities. is then disseminated via IDG Enterprise and Fortune Inc.’sOnly 7 percent felt that their organization falls into the “extremely effective” category. various multimedia assets. Moreover, fewer than half of the companies surveyed by IDG reported high levels of To learn more about theeffectiveness in leveraging technology to handle and respond to customer requests. About CIO2CEO program, please16 percent of the IT executives reported that their voice and data network infrastructures contact Charles Lee atrank somewhere between “not very effective” and “not at all effective.” In many instances, clee@idgenterprise.com.1 C I O 2 C E O TODAy’s IT AnD BusInEss LEADErs On MArkET TrEnDs
  • 2. they’re simply not able to run services and solutions Best practice organizations, on the other hand, focusthat might benefit the enterprise. In other cases, existing on achieving a high level of responsiveness, transformingtechnologies don’t operate effectively—meaning gaps, data into actionable results and developing better productsbreakdowns and outright failures. and services based on immediate customer needs. These Today the challenges are immense. The existence of organizations understand that customer service isn’t anmultiple customer service channels raises the bar on cus- endpoint; it’s an ongoing process that’s built into thetomer expectations as well as corporate resources. Many fabric of the organization.organizations find that they’re forced to maintain oldsystems while incorporating a spate of new technologies, Deconstructing the Disconnectsincluding voice, e-mail, paper forms, e-forms, Web-based Not only is the influence of customer information on theself-help, online chat, instant messaging, social network- business increasing but the amount of actionable dataing and faxes. Unless an enterprise integrates all these vari- floating around the enterprise is also growing. Organiza-ous systems—preferably running on a converged network tions must adapt to changing customer needs and priori-infrastructure—the sheer weight of all these transactions ties on a lightning-fast basis. IT systems must mesh withcan buckle an organization. business processes to serve customers effectively. The IDG Making matters worse, business and IT leaders often survey found that organizations suffer from four majorhave mismatched views and expectations. It’s not uncom- disconnects in the customer service arena.Today the challenges are immense. The existence of multiple customerservice channels raises the bar on customer expectations as wellas corporate resources.mon for IT executives to view technology as the means DIsCOnnECT 1: Customer feedback will driveto an end and fail to understand the underlying business good decision-making.case. They wind up fighting fires rather than thinking There’s no question that listening to customers goes a longand acting strategically. Business leaders, on the other way toward tailoring products and services appropriately.hand, don’t always understand how limitations in network In fact, complaints can provide remarkable insights intocapacity and infrastructure cripple the business. problems, bottlenecks and breakdowns. According to the This is a problem that frequently leads to serious IDG study, 68 percent of the responding organizationsbreakdowns and problems. Even the most sophisticated rely on customer complaints to understand priorities andcontact center; the world’s most advanced analytics; and guide their business.the newest tools and technologies, including social net- Identifying problems is a key to success, but com-working and Web 2.0, cannot guarantee positive results. plaints reflect only a narrow portion of the customerUltimately, an enterprise must link technology with base and provide information about only a small spectrumbusiness processes and create systems and workflow that of the overall customer experience. They do not help aput the organization in touch with customer needs and company understand the sales process, service and supportdesires. The network must support the smooth and unin- issues or overall sales trends. Unfortunately, organizationsterrupted flow of data, regardless of where it originates. that put too much stock in complaints risk altering their Among other things, IDG survey respondents com- business model in ways that don’t always benefitplained about how decades-old mainframes and anti- the company.quated code make it difficult to provide advanced features Similarly, 61 percent of the IT respondents use cus-and put data to maximum use. In some cases, IT changes tomer surveys and research to guide their decision-makingare long and labor-intensive. As a result, these companies process. But again, surveys are only part of the picture.are unable to fully integrate voice, data, chat, messaging Meanwhile, just over half of the organizations rely onfunctions and other tools such as customer relationship input from direct or indirect sales staff, 39 percent frommanagement (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA). inbound sales calls, 38 percent from postsale supportThey lack flexibility and agility. requests, 36 percent from customer purchase data and2 C I O 2 C E O TODAy’s IT AnD BusInEss LEADErs On MArkET TrEnDs
  • 3. 36 percent from Web site traffic patterns and analytics. hardware and outdated software. In a business environ-Just over one-third use data from promotional offers and ment that increasingly demands wireless systems, Webproduct sales trends. 2.0 technology and unified communications, the lack of a The fact that fewer than 40 percent of the companies converged network can prove debilitating.surveyed use quantitative metrics to understand customer In fact, call center voice and data integration, callbehavior and patterns doesn’t bode well. In fact, this switching and transferring capabilities, CRM effectivenessincomplete picture fuels poor decisions and customer and technical support can make or break an enterprise.alienation. Best practice organizations understand that Although the current economic downturn is pressuringthere’s an ongoing need to tap into multiple data collec- IT executives to do more with less (more than half oftion sources and provide a three-dimensional view of the the survey respondents said that the current economiccustomer relationship. recession will play a significant role in shaping customer needs and priorities over the next two years), an efficientDIsCOnnECT 2: “Tried and true” methods of network infrastructure actually lowers overall costs andobtaining customer data are adequate. improves performance.All customers are not created equal. Treating high-volume, IDG found that IT executives are likely to rate theirhigh-profit customers the same as those who buy sporadi- companies “not very effective” or “not at all effective” incally has costly implications—particularly for service understanding, responding to and anticipating the needsand support. It’s now possible to segment and profile of customers. Even though 68 percent of the IT executivescustomers in order to understand buying patterns, service and 64 percent of the business leaders view data, voicerequirements and profitability. This data—attainable and network services as a “critical” or “very important” inthrough business intelligence, data mining and analytics— understanding customer priorities, more than two-thirdschanges the playing field. Elevated churn rates and higher admitted that they are only “somewhat effective” or worsecustomer acquisition costs are less likely. at adapting to current needs and demands. Nearly 60 percent of the IDG survey respondents Installing systems on an ad hoc basis rather thanindicated that they are looking to monitor customer building a solid network foundation is an ongoingexperience to improve processes, whereas more than half problem. The advantage of a converged IP network is thatindicated that they are changing the way they communi- it integrates disparate systems—including old and newcate and collaborate. Today, social networking tools such technology—so that an enterprise maintains multipleas Facebook and Twitter provide an entirely different systems. The result? A new level of collaboration and con-interaction with customers—plus they offer the ability nectedness with partners and customers.to monitor discussions in real time, conduct polls andsurveys and react to shifting attitudes and events with DIsCOnnECT 4: Innovation and rapidzero latency. response are more related to business But successful customer service depends on more than processes than network infrastructure.the adoption of tools; it’s also vital to choose the right In the new world order, businesses can deploy wirelesscombination of solutions and integrate them properly. point-of-sale systems anywhere, anytime. They can pullWith the right interconnected systems, an organization data from the point of customer contact and use it tocan boost revenues, lower business expenses, speed new guide everything from staffing to inventory on a near-real-products and services to market and communicate features time basis. They’re also able to use sophisticated algo-and benefits to customers in ways that wouldn’t have been rithms to better understand customer behavior—and evenimaginable only a few years ago. predict future actions, including a customer who is eyeing a big purchase or thinking about closing a bank account.DIsCOnnECT 3: It’s cost-effective to leverage But it doesn’t stop there. Integrated interactive voiceolder data, voice and network services to response (IVR) systems, CRM and telecommunicationsrespond to customer demands. tools route and transfer calls—and the accompanying dataFewer than half of the organizations surveyed by IDG to the right agents—offshore or onshore. With a robustreport a high level of effectiveness in using technology network and the right solutions in place, a business canto handle and respond to customer requests. In fact, connect a preferred customer to an agent who has moreseveral companies indicated that they rely on antiquated knowledge and greater latitude to make decisions. It can C I O 2 C E O TODAy’s IT AnD BusInEss LEADErs On MArkET TrEnDs 3
  • 4. In reality, business processes and technology play equal roles in achievingsuccess. This translates into ongoing communication between IT andbusiness functions—and an understanding of the business case forvarious solutions.also shift resources quickly to match demand and address adjustments more quickly. Gwinnett is now working tocustomer needs without delay. upgrade its IVR and Web access to provide broader and In reality, business processes and technology play equal richer functionality, and it is deploying wireless VoIP soroles in achieving success. This translates into ongoing that healthcare professionals can address patient needs oncommunication between IT and business functions—and the spot.an understanding of the business case for various solu- Others are turning to predictive systems to aggregatetions. In the end, the enterprise is able to build bridges customer data from Web sites, call centers and point-of-between islands of information and connect to customers sale systems. Using analytics software, they’re able to trackin a more meaningful way. customers by demographics, lifestyle, geography and other factors. Still others are switching on Web-connect VoIPMoving Beyond Business as usual systems, instant messaging (IM) tools and a slew of otherNot surprisingly, organizations that design a voice and advanced features.data network infrastructure to support customer needs Successful companies excel through wise investmentsare more likely to slice through knowledge gaps, prob- and a holistic customer-centric focus. With a forward-lems and miscommunication. Together, tightly defined thinking perspective and a converged IP network inwork processes, improved workflow, new insights and an place, it’s possible to build IT and business systems thatability to automate tasks build a foundation for excellent minimize TCO and maximize ROI.customer service. “To gain buy-in from the business side for these new Conclusioncapabilities that improve customer service, CIOs know To excel in today’s business environment, executives mustthey must show quick wins soon after implementation,” understand the opportunities and challenges of customersays Cindy Humphrey, vice president of business market- service. With this knowledge, they’re able to build a robusting, Qwest Communications. “That rapid ROI paves the IT infrastructure that supports innovation and excellence.way for sustained ROI as a project matures.” Ultimately, it’s not about spending huge sums to build the At catalog and online retailer Spiegel Brands, a rich most-sophisticated IT systems; rather, it’s about makingcustomer database already incorporates information smart and strategic investments in a converged IP networkgleaned from marketing initiatives and customer orders. infrastructure. With the right pieces in place, an enterpriseThe company is now developing a data warehouse that keeps pace with the ongoing march of technology . . . anddraws on data from a variety of sources, including a re- customer demands.cently installed speech-guided IVR system. This will allowSpiegel to gain greater insights into customer behavior and For more information on Qwest products and solutions, visitact more quickly and effectively to resolve issues. The com- www.qwest.com/business.pany has also added a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)system that’s integrated with its Web site, and it will soonadd real-time chat features. A state-of-the-art network hasreduced telecommunications costs and other expenses. Healthcare provider Gwinnett Medical is now buildingout an infrastructure that will enable it to monitor phonevolume and detect calling patterns, which will help it re-duce bottlenecks and improve staffing levels. It already hasa customer feedback and survey system that’s tied into itsvoice and data networks—something that helps it make4 C I O 2 C E O TODAy’s IT AnD BusInEss LEADErs On MArkET TrEnDs