During times of crisis, such as COVID-19, there are 10 digital and self-service tactics customer service and support leaders can implement to quickly lower operating costs, improve effectiveness and reduce contact volume and expenses, according to Gartner, Inc.
“In a normal operating environment, organizations develop strategies that are executed over time and consistent with organizational goals,” said Philip Jenkins, senior director analyst in the Gartner Customer Service and Support Practice. “However, in times of crisis, the guiding principle of achieving a balance between expense reduction and customer experience may need to be shifted temporarily.”
To do this, Gartner recommends that service and support leaders consider the following actions:
1. Proactive outbound messaging: Identify top contact reasons and implement proactive outbound messages using all existing organizational messaging channels such as text, email and app notifications.
2. Provide consistent messaging: Ensure all channels for internal and external communications are consistent in tone and content.
3. Prioritize voice of customer (VoC) analytics: Use speech and text analytics to adjust actions near real-time to improve outcomes such as calls and churn reduction.
4. Showcase support content: Prominently display support content such as alerts from global home page, quick links to FAQs and troubleshooters.
5. Deploy chatbots: Prioritize use cases based on top contact reasons where self-service is available to increase digital containment. Example use cases are concierge bots (contact us) and status bots (order – where is my package?).
6. Update interactive voice response (IVR) experience: Require self-service before routing to a representative. This helps improve IVR to reduce customer effort and increase self-service effectiveness.
7. Promote digital self-service: Promote digital and self-service capabilities on all inbound experiences and select outbound messages across all channels including website (global home page and within “contact us” experience), contact center representatives (calls and chats), face-to-face (field services/physical locations), outbound emails, text and paid media.
8. Simplify authentication: Deploy biometrics, one-time pins or honor mobile device methods to reduce friction on self-service while maintaining account security.
9. Deploy robotic process automation (RPA): Use RPA to automate high volume low effort human tasks such as email management (intent, auto-response, routing, etc.). Deploying automation will help reduce cost and improve employee and customer experience.
10. Audit search: Audit organic search to reduce customers calling exposed toll-free numbers and bypassing self-service opportunities.
“Not all recommended actions will be appropriate for every service organization,” said John Quaglietta, senior director analyst in the Gartner Customer Service and Support Practice. “Customer service and support leaders should review these actions with subject matter experts and a cross-functional team to identify which recommended actions are already implemented and determine any additional changes required to increase effectiveness.”
Additional information is available to Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders clients in the report "Top 10 Quick Wins to Improve Digital and Self-Service Effectiveness." Learn more about how to lead organizations through the disruption of coronavirus in the Gartner coronavirus resource center, a collection of complementary Gartner research and webinars to help organizations respond, manage, and prepare for the rapid spread and global impact of COVID-19.
About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders
The customer service and support function is vital to maintaining customer loyalty and influencing brand perceptions. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve service and support leaders’ mission-critical priorities, specifically improving the customer experience while managing costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to design an optimal service channel strategy; measure and reduce customer effort; and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent.