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Customer Service Software

Regardless of whether a company  is a B2B or B2C organisation, it’s customer base (along with its staff) is it’s most important business asset. Retaining existing customers and gaining new ones can only be achieved by delivering exemplary customer service through to use of, professional customer service software. Phone and email systems alone can no longer maintain a standard of service which customers expect today. Following, we introduce some approaches taken by different dedicated customer service software solutions and what companies should consider when selecting a particular vendor.

1. Summary

2. Definition: What is customer service software?

Customer service software refers to a system used for processing and responding to customer service enquiries over various communication channels. Customer communication behaviour has changed dramatically in recent years. People have 24×7 access to their smartphones and also to voice, email, messaging services and social networks. This has led to them using whatever channel is most convenient for them and to a distinct rise in enquiries directed toward companies’ main contact addresses. Customers’ expectations for response speeds have at the same time, also risen. Whilst historically, it was quite acceptable to wait a week for an email reply, today’s expectations are completely different and good customer service– especially for chat and social media channels – needs to be provided in virtual real time. With these high demands, being able to provide quick, relevant responses to enquiries will ensure a good customer experience and foster great customer loyalty.
 
The multitude of enquiries received at the companys’ central addresses cannot be answered by any single team member, and as a result most of them are handled by a service team. Customer service software usually handles the routing of enquiries to various employees, and logs all contacts made by the customer. This is often also referred to as “contact center software” since processing primarily occurs in a “customer service center” (or  “contact center”). Companies deploy this type of customer service software to work through numerous customer enquiries quickly and systematically, as a team. More and more frequently, companies are now also using “self-service” software solutions or automated solutions such as voice dialog systems, chatbots or AI-based response management systems, etc.
 
According to a study conducted by Fortune Business Insights, the market for customer service center software will grow an average of 14.62% to USD 48 billion by the year 2026. The market for self-service software (including virtual digital assistants) is notching up particularly dynamic growth. According to a report by Research and Markets, the market will grow an average of 16.7% annually by 2021 and reach a level of USD 9.4 billion.   

3. What types of customer service software are there?

There are numerous different customer service software solutions. e.g. Customer Relationship Management Systems, virtual assistants and chatbots, as well as response management software. Also Automatic Call Distribution Systems (ACDs) to distribute phone calls are widely-available,. Descriptions of these are numerous, for exampleTrade magazine CRM Manager provides a good overview of CRM systems. The role of virtual assistants and chatbots in contact center digitization is clearly illustrated by corporate advisors Bearing Point. Generally, market leaders such as e.g. specialist magazine teletalk are a good starting point for a market overview. At the same time, new solutions are frequently briefly presented in trade magazines, such as Callcenter Profi.

There are special solutions for individual contact channels such as chat or social media, as well as multi-channel and omni-channel. Various operating and licensing models are offered, from classic on-premise installation to cloud-based SaaS solutions (Software as a Service). Whether corporate licenses, volume or user-based, there is virtually no limit to the potential configurations possible.

4. Goals when using customer service software

By deploying the “right” customer service software organisations can benefit from:

  • Improved customer satisfaction and customer loyalty
  • Increased transparency of service processes
  • Improvements in individual KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), e.g.
    • Average response time: the time it takes for a customer to receive an answer to a written enquiry
    • Average processing time: the time needed by an agent to generate a response to an enquiry
    • Average ticket costs: processing costs for one enquiry (including personnel costs, etc.)
    • First Fixed Rate: the rate of responses that were able to fully resolve a customer’s enquiry (written/verbal) upon initial contact
    • Customer satisfaction: How customers rate the company (e.g., NPS = Net Promoter Score)
  • Obtain operational cost reductions through automation
  • Route customer enquiries to specific (cost-effective) contact channels (AKA call deflection)
 
However, delivering the shortest possible response time in the face of high enquiry rates is often the most important goal when investing in a customer service software solution.

5. What should companies consider when making their choice?

Given the multitude of solutions, there is a danger of investing in stand-alone solutions which are not adequately integrated with other enterprise systems (making it impossible to obtain a 360-degree view of the customer). Also, a complete customer contact history is a strong basis for delivering good customer service. No customer today wants to explain “for the fifth time” why they’re calling, or to repeat details of what product they have. Customers expect companies to store this information centrally and be able to access it in the event that a customer contacts them – regardless of whether they call a service employee by phone, send an email, or use chat.

10 tips for selecting the right customer service software

  • Make sure the customer service software has interfaces to support your key enterprise systems.
  • If you operate internationally, the customer service solution should be truly multilingual,offering a single user interface in different languages, as well as being able to process and respond to written customer enquiries in different languages.
  • Be sure that the software can keep pace with your company’s growth. A scalable software solution gives you investment security.
  • Opt for a solution which supports both multi-channel and omni-channel communications. This ensures a consistent workflow and efficient staffing. In addition, customers or service staff can easily switch communication channels where necessary whilst maintaining the complete customer contact history.
  • Critically evaluate and test whether the software can really help you provide customers with the right answer, faster and thus contribute to the customer experience.
  • Avoid virtual digital assistants and chatbots when these offer no real added value.
  • Check if the software is already successfully in use at other similar companies and what their experiences are. Look for a user-friendly interface. This slashes your employee training time and avoids operating errors.
  • Make sure the customer service solution allows you to gradually automate your customer service, whilst balancing this with a good customer experience.
  • If you’re looking to implement an AI-based solution, consider how quickly the customer service software can be trained. The best systems in this respect are those which rely on vector-based algorithms, requiring only a small amount of training data (roughly 30 documents per topic of enquiry).
  • A good, comprehensive customer service software should also offer a transparent reporting system. This provides executives with a quick overview of all relevant facts and figures in real time and enables them to react quickly, if needed.

Conclusion

Recent years have seen customer service become considerably strained by the demand for faster and more complex communications. This is primarily thanks to the abundance of  new digital channels and the accompanying increased enquiry volumes. At the same time, contact centers are facing significantly-increased service expectations from customers.

The use of customer service software is imperative, in order to offer high quality, consistent customer service in this sensitive area and to meet all relevant KPIs. It is critical that all channels relevant to your customers are covered. Phone, email, social media, messaging services and live chats, as well as letters and faxes – yes, these are still used today in isolated instances! – should ideally be handled via a centralized omni-channel customer service software. The software should be able to “grow”, integrate with other key enterprise systems and offer opportunity for transitioning the level of automated replies, all of this with the customer experience at the front of mind. Artificial intelligence-based systems can offer great potential in this respect, provided that they have precise text and topic recognition.

Delivering the best customer service is increasingly becoming the core success factor in the modern commercial marketplace. Today’s customers are no longer “Brand loyal” because of marketing alone and are migrating ever faster (churn) due to the increasing ease of moving to an alternative. To avoid this companies are using modern, intelligent and intuitive customer service software to promote customer service as a true differentiator and unique selling point, enabling businesses to develop a competitive advantage having long-term positive effects on a company’s economic success.

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