Think Beyond Software When Considering a Customer Service Solution

We all know that great customer service sets companies apart. It supports customers on the channels that they like to use, and it helps agents deliver personal service in line with service-level agreements (SLAs) and service policies. Great service makes customers happy, and as a result, customer retention and value impact top-line revenue.

Modern customer service solutions have expanded their capabilities to support customers over self-service and asynchronous digital channels. They arm agents with insights and allow them to collaborate with subject-matter experts to solve cases. They let supervisors manage the quality of service, gather customer feedback, and identify coaching opportunities. They let service operations optimize service processes and next-best actions. And for IT leaders, they help reduce tech sprawl by limiting the number of point solutions that organizations need to use.

When evaluating customer service solutions, look for vendors that do the following:

  • Provide a complete suite of customer service applications. Customer service agents often use dozens of technologies to support their day-to-day work. Modern customer service solutions deliver broad swaths of functionality with consistent user experiences that simplify agent onboarding and speed up time to proficiency.
  • Assist agents in meeting SLA and quality targets. Today, customer service vendors put extraordinary effort into offering simple yet productive experiences. They offer tools embedded in the UI that assist agents as they create, work on, and resolve cases. Solutions can nudge and guide agents through processes and surface knowledge, similar cases, and next-best actions in the flow of work. They offload repetitive tasks like wrapping up cases and drafting resolution notes. Collectively, these tools help agents diagnose issues and find the right resources to resolve them.
  • Deliver better customer experiences with AI and automation. There has been explosive growth in process automation and embedded AI within customer service solutions that drive enterprise-scale automation. They help standardize and automate service processes, cut time spent on data entry, capture conversations, extract sentiment and intent, and surface next-best steps.
  • Leverage an extended ecosystem for customer service success. Customer service vendors offer a partner ecosystem for point solutions that their own solution. Vendors also offer training and certification programs for administrators and support large developer networks making it easy for you to find the talent you need.
  • Accelerate the transition to value. Don't overlook the range of consulting services and partners that support a vendor solution and help you get value out of your solution beyond just a technology project. Many have best practice frameworks and benchmarks that will help make you successful.

Kate Leggett is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.