Unifying Customer Service for a Single System with Many Benefits

Epicor provides flexible, industry-specific software for tens of thousands of customers in 150 countries, and we have grown tremendously since our inception. In our 45-year history, we have developed dozens of products and acquired new technology from a number of companies along the way. These are hallmarks of success, but this progress does present its own challenges when it comes to providing the best customer service possible. Here is how we transformed our customer support from a disjointed and inefficient process to a streamlined revenue generator.

The Challenge of Siloed Services

As we made acquisitions, we typically adopted the customer support infrastructure that went along with the new products that we integrated into our portfolio of offerings. In the end, we had 15 CRM support systems and more than 50 customer portals that had to be maintained to support customers in different countries who used different products. This meant customers had long lead times for solving their problems and an overall inconsistent experience. In addition, we were unable to get a clear overall view of our support metrics, making it difficult to target areas for improvement. The result was insufficient service levels and high operational costs.

We needed to rethink our customer service and undertake our own digital transformation by deploying a centralized support system that worked across all our products and company divisions, while also supporting our customers and partners wherever they are based. Not only would this help keep ongoing costs in line, but we anticipated that improving the customer experience would lead to an increase in product maintenance renewals, which currently accounts for 50 percent of our total revenue.

We called this reimagining of customer service EpicCare and searched for the right technology partner to make the unified support platform a reality. We wanted to build a single system that could support customers and partners across the world while improving our visibility into support levels and ongoing customer needs that could influence our business decisions. In the end we decided to partner with ServiceNow to create EpicCare. With their assistance, we rolled out the new customer service experience worldwide in several waves over 12 months.

The Benefits of Using a Single Customer Service Platform

To assess the impact of the new EpicCare support system, we can refer to the Total Economic Impact (TEI) report, which was researched and prepared by Forrester Research. The TEI report breaks down how Epicor benefits from this major business and service transformation.

According to Forrester, the single most impactful benefit of the transition to a single customer support platform is the improved customer retention. Epicor's Net Promoter Score, measuring customer willingness to recommend a company, increased by 10 percentage points within 10 months of implementing the new system. We can better predict customer service concerns and take steps to resolve issues before they affect a significant portion of our customer base. And with a single system, our agents are better equipped to resolve concerns or put customers directly in touch with the right person to help them. We can track performance to maintain our service level targets. Together these benefits are expected to account for $6.6 million in savings. In addition, the creation of a new knowledge base in conjunction with self-service enables customers to solve many of the most commonly encountered issues for 24/7 help.

An improved customer experience also presents us with more opportunities to find new revenue. With one centralized database containing customer information, such as purchase history and service history, our agents have insight to help them make customer interactions more meaningful. They can make relevant cross-selling and upselling suggestions and keep customers abreast of product developments that might benefit them and their operations.

Other enhancements come from behind-the scenes improvements that improve Epicor's efficiency. The automated support processes reduce operational costs and help us identify new drivers in customer service that we can apply within the company. Simple reporting capabilities further drive improvement, as we track metrics that change the way we work with customers and partners; in fact, our reporting efficiencies should increase threefold. Executive management now has access to reports to improve business agility by making decisions based on quantifiable data.

EpicCare represented more to Epicor than simply a new customer service portal, but a fundamental shift in the focus of our business. We had historically operated with a product-centric mindset that required a significant change to transform to a customer-centric model and to operate as a more efficient company. Because such a large part of our business comes from repeat customers and annual renewals, simply making customers happier was an important opportunity to make a significant impact on the bottom line. At Epicor we now pride ourselves on the way we help customers solve their challenges, which in turn increases the likelihood that they will stick with us for their ERP needs.

Ian Ashby is senior vice president of global support at Epicor.