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Five Steps to Creating Rock-Star Customer Service (Part two of a two-part series)


The best customer service can’t be improvised. Great service performance requires data-driven personalization strategies enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI) and digital capabilities at their core.

Organizations compete today on their ability to deliver intelligent, personalized services that anticipate and meet consumer needs. A customer-focused culture and an “our customers are always right” attitude are still important, but a company can’t rely on them alone to meet high digital-era customer demands. Delivering exceptional experiences requires companies to combine customer-centric ways with new strategies and techniques empowered by data, analytics and AI. Those tools enable companies to take the following five steps toward building rock-star customer service.

Apply customer intelligence to personalize experience design.

Organizations must design and deliver personalized experiences that meet and exceed customer expectations. That personalization is driven by customer segments and “moments that matter.” These include revenue, brand and service-resolution moments. Businesses can ensure that customers are guided to the most effective experience using insights from real-time and past engagement, such as speech, text and journey analytics, coupled with cognitive intelligence, including customer personas, linguistic analysis and emotional quotient. Experiences that incorporate these insights demonstrate that the organization knows, respects and cares about its customers as individuals. So a customer repeatedly buying a premium product receives free express shipping plus a suggested schedule for automatic product shipments. Further, she’s immediately routed to a human service rep when she calls because her past interactions show she bypasses all self-service options.

Ensure seamless data exchange across multiple channels.

Every channel must be equipped to recognize individual customers and deliver personalized experiences. Biometric authentication, including voice, fingerprint and facial recognition, can now swiftly identify individuals. Platform-based solutions with data orchestration layers deliver an intelligent, single view of a customer across all channels by connecting data from underlying disparate systems. Combining these tools provides for a seamless experience. Customers, after authenticating in one channel, can continue their journey in another channel that retains their log-in credentials, service needs and any other information pertinent to the experience.

Put the power of connection into customer hands.

Customers should be able to decide whether to connect via voice, mobile, web, social, chat or video. While self-service tools reduce costs and deliver fast answers, agent-guided service should always be available from any channel. Human and digital agents can offer quick, intelligence assistance by receiving up-to-the-minute information and insights from solutions such as data-exchange automation and unified knowledge management. When customers are ready to take the reins again, these agents can then fade into the background, always ready to respond if necessary.

Figure 1

Equip agents with superpowers.

Some moments in the customer journey, such as a complex query or customer preference for voice interaction, demand a human—or virtually human—touch. Digital agents may use personalization tools, customer analytics and insights to anticipate when help is needed, to rapidly respond with context-appropriate aid, and to hand off problems that require assistance only a human can provide. AI solutions augment the power of those human agents with super capabilities, such as recommendations for next-best actions, to satisfy customers.

Put data to work outside the customer service center.

Implement new-age metrics, such as customer-effort scores and smart analytics, to turn customer service data into intelligence. Businesses can apply these insights to continuously improve customer experiences, operations and business strategy. This intel also can drive more positive outcomes, such as increased revenue from upselling or decreased cost of service via more self-service use.

Companies also should implement full-cycle feedback loops by gathering relevant data from all groups that manage customer touchpoints outside of customer service. Signals from these data points might indicate a service issue — similar to how an uptick in service calls might indicate a product issue. Consistent collection and integration of touchpoint data all managed by one accountable team is critical to accurately interpreting those signals. Further, by conducting process mapping and redesign, organizations can more effectively deliver that intelligence when and where it’s needed for rapid response.

These five steps will help a company become more competitive while it delivers a great customer experience. A large beverage manufacturer we supported moved from a single-channel customer service approach to a fully omnichannel strategy, delivering always-available omnichannel support and e-commerce capabilities. Advanced analytics now provide relevant, personalized information based on customer segment, history and actions across voice, chat, video chat and web self-service tools. Since deploying the solutions, the company has increased customer retention and acquisition by 15% and seen sales rise by $150 million.

Find out whether your customer service is meeting the needs of your customers in part one of this series, “Five Customer Experience Mistakes that Companies Can’t Afford to Make,” and learn more about digital customer service by visiting the Digital Operations section of our website.

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