I had the honour of interviewing Rajeev Tankha, Sr. Director of solutions and marketing at Oracle. I had many burning questions, and got to have a good chat with him and picked his brain a little.
Check out the interview here:
1. Can you give me an example of how customer care systems enhance self-service channels, as well as key insights to successful use of these systems?
Yes. Self-care is a great way for operators to help empower customers and lower costs, and when combined with customer care systems, operators are able to capture information about their customers’ buying and usage behavior, which further enhances their ability to improve the overall customer experience. One critical component to enhance customer interactions either via a mobile or online self-service is a common channel coordination layer. This enables all customer interactions to transition seamlessly between self-service, online channels, and customer contact agents. Essentially, businesses must focus on, and address, the customer request regardless of channel. If a customer initiates contact with their provider on a self-service channel and moves to the call center, the agent can, and should, have all that information available so the customer’s interaction is seamless, and a channel coordination layer is critical to support this. Coordination between channels can help companies respond to customers in real time.
2. What are communication service providers looking for when choosing between different solutions that reduce customer support costs and enhance the customer experience?
While cutting costs is important, service provider experience has shown that retaining customers is more cost effective than trying to win new customers. Therefore, service providers are placing more emphasis on enhancing the customer’s experience over just cutting costs. Solutions that can help enhance the customer experience are therefore at the forefront of many service provider investments.
There is a strong focus on deploying solutions that help businesses lower costs. Since 80 percent of customer interactions are now conducted via online channels, including a high volume via social media, customer service tools that support customer service interaction are becoming an essential element of a cost-reduction strategy.
Reducing costs and enhancing the customer experience are not conflicting objectives, and most companies are looking for solutions that help them address both priorities. By pushing as many customer interactions as possible to unassisted channels while also unifying systems across all customer channels – including billing, order capture and delivery, self-service, and assisted channels – service providers can lower costs while also creating an optimal customer experience.
3. How do customer support systems help service providers gain competitive advantage? I am looking for case and point from your own experience.
A big challenge for service providers, particularly in the pre-paid market, is low average revenue per user (ARPU) and high customer churn. By implementing comprehensive customer interaction, care, and support systems that are accessible around-the-clock, customers gain the ability to have all their requests addressed via their channel of choice. This makes the service provider easier to interact with, and therefore more appealing to the customer. A satisfied customer is less likely to switch to a competitor. The service provider has an even bigger advantage if it can offer this comprehensive customer service via self-service channels, as they are lower cost.
As an example, there is a service provider in the South Asian market that has tens of millions of customers, with a very large proportion set up as pre-paid accounts. Traditionally, pre-paid customers are not considered candidates for advanced customer care and support , but this particular provider has worked to proactively provide comprehensive cross channel ordering, billing, and customer care to augment existing capabilities like automated top-ups for basic voice service. This will not only make it easier for these customers to have advanced self-care, but, more importantly, it will allow them to select and use a host of emerging data services. This adds value because customers can access self-help tools for items like online ringtones and other subscription purchases. It creates a better customer experience and encourages the customers to stay with this provider, versus switching to another provider that might not be as easy to use.
4. Bhaskar Gorti, your senior vice president and general manager, comments in a recent news release that “In today’s market, an integrated and sophisticated cross-channel customer experience is integral to attracting and retaining customers.” I am interested to read/hear a breakdown of this comment using a best case example, from Oracle’s experience.
There are two key elements of creating an integrated and sophisticated cross channel customer experience – the experience of the customer during the time they want to research and buy the service they need, and the experience of the customer when they are using the service. Both are critical to implementing a complete customer experience strategy. From the customer’s point of view, interaction with their service provider is an ongoing activity. It does not end once the service is purchased. Further, from a service provider’s perspective, the customer service experience is not about just creating live- and self-service channels, but spans across other areas – such as empowering the product marketing team to instantly create and launch on demand personalized offers that can be sold across any channel, enabling the contact center agents to have a real-time view of all customer interactions (whether customers are in the research, buying, or usage phase). To sum up, the buying experience and user experience must be in sync to help attract and retain customers.
Well I have to say thank you to Rajeev Tankha for taking the time to talk to me. It was a pleasure and gained a lot of insight into how we should all perceive the customer and learn to adapt to their needs and the environment they are in. I found out that self service plays a vital role in customer service and how it can potentially help gain competitive advantage for smaller markets.