How to Develop a Digital Service Strategy

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Our panel of experts share their tips for creating the ideal strategy for improving digital customer service.

Start by Assessing the Following Considerations

To create the ideal digital strategy, there are a number of things that you need to first consider, which can be categorised under five key headings:

i. Business Strategy – The digital service strategy should be aligned with the overall business strategy and brand promise. So think about: How is the business competing? Is it product-centric, service-centric, or both?

ii. The Customer – Who is the business serving? What are their demographic, psychographic, and technographic profiles, including their channel preferences? Do they prefer texting or calling?

Anand Subramaniam

Anand Subramaniam

iii. Customer Journeys – What kinds of customer queries come to the contact centre? What is the value and volume of these journeys? That will help prioritise journey optimisation. Is there an opportunity to digitise those journeys?

iv. Competitors – What are direct competitors doing in the arena of digital service? How are they differentiating themselves? Does the business want to lead or follow in service capabilities?

v. Trailblazers – How are digital service leaders in other industries differentiating themselves and leading in digital service?

Thanks to Anand Subramaniam at eGain

Get Buy-In From Stakeholders Across the Organisation

First of all, it is vital to understand that your digital service strategy needs to have buy-in from stakeholders across the organisation.  Even more important, your organisation needs to be willing to make changes to existing business processes.

The key to success is to understand your customers’ needs and then to design your digital service strategy around them.

Too often companies expect customers and the agents that deliver services to them to work around their internal structures, systems and processes.  Service design is addressing this critical issue by providing more and more companies with a useful framework to develop and execute a digital service strategy.

Martin Wyatt

Martin Wyatt

By taking an outside-in view, you can create digital experiences that truly meet customer needs.

Remember, brands with the strongest customer experiences don’t just let it happen – they are proactive and innovative and focus their intent on delivering solutions that meet customer needs rather than business priorities.

Thanks to Martin Wyatt at West Unified Communications

Work Backwards From Technology

Rather than deploy new technology for technology’s sake, understand what is really stopping you from delighting customers.

Do they complain about constant channel switching or having to repeat themselves? Find ways to make it easy for customers to do business with you, then think about your customer conversations – how do they like to communicate?

Find ways to make it easy for customers to do business with you, then think about your customer conversations – how do they like to communicate?

Colin Hay

Then, think about finding a contact centre solution that facilitates that channels that matter to your customers and integrates fully with CRM and other business applications.

With a fully integrated CRM, you can provide advisors with a single view of the customer with the flexibility to create the right level of service for different customer segments and at every touchpoint of the customer journey.

Put the Customer at the Heart of Your Design Process

Whatever technology you decide to use, keep the customer experience at the centre of the digital design process and assess how your customers are reacting to any changes in the digital journey.

Colin Hay

Colin Hay

To do this, develop open feedback systems, or you could instead choose to improve quality management and call monitoring with voice analytics tools to capture the Voice of the Customer (VoC).

Then, share, analyse and use this information to correct processes, address service issues and gain distinct competitive advantage in your new digital contact centre.

Thanks to Colin Hay at Puzzel

Assess Digital Effectiveness at Different Points in the Customer Journey

When mapping out a digital service strategy, contact centres need to look at their customer interactions. This can be done by reviewing the effectiveness of digital channels across the whole customer journey.

Kenneth Briscoe

Kenneth Briscoe

NICE research found that 82% of customers still call to speak to an advisor after using a digital service, highlighting that there is room for improvement when it comes to the offering a seamless multichannel experience.

Understanding the paths customers follow and identifying what may lead to dissatisfaction is a valuable insight which can be fed into a digital service strategy. This allows for a more targeted and coordinated approach which keeps customers top of mind.

Thanks to Kenneth Briscoe at NICE

Gather Data and Gain a Better Understanding of Your Customers

Having a realistic understanding of what you already know about your customers is very important, so you can design a digital service strategy that best suits them.

But how can you manage the data within your contact centre to attain such an understanding? Ask yourself the following questions to find out.

  • Do you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system?
  • If so, do you trust the data contained within the CRM system?
  • Can you access customer information in real time?
  • How many data points do you have about your customers? Name only?  Purchase history?  Preferences?

Having a complete understanding of what you already know will power your digital strategy and inform your upcoming continuous improvement projects.

Map Your Digital Customer Journey

Once you have appropriately assessed the market and inventoried what you already know about your customers, only then should you complete a journey map.

These maps help you see things from the outside. They create a projection for a number of different customer experience scenarios.

In order to create a journey map, you need to think about:

  • How do my customers want to reach me?
  • What is their preference?
  • What do they expect of my organisation?
  • How does that match with my business model?

Honest answers throughout this process will highlight the weaknesses in your current strategy and present areas in which service can be improved to improve the customer experience.

Measure Your Strategy Against Customer Expectations

Once you understand what customers expect, how they want to interact, and their preferences, then you must truthfully measure against your current performance.

To do this, you should be thinking about:

Paul Herdman

Paul Herdman

  • What should I know about my customers that I do not?
  • How far away from current customer expectations am I performing?
  • Can I meet or exceed customer expectations with this current business model?

This step can be the hardest part – there is no hiding from reality if this process has been well completed.  But measurement is key to help you understand the scope of your digital transformation.

Thanks to Paul Herdman at NICE inContact

Segment Your Customers and Design Different Digital Journeys

Organisations need to think about the customer journey and what combination of approaches works best for their business. That means developing a digital by design approach.

To do this, organisations need to segment their customers and then focus on establishing what channels are best suited for this type of customer on these kinds of devices doing these kinds of interactions.

Jeremy Payne

Rather than simply layering in new digital channels for the sake of it, the priority should be to get the backbone customer interaction channels working to a high standard. Those channels should always include voice and email, but may also encompass live chat, self-service and capability within their own applications, for example.

It’s also important that as new channels are brought on stream, they are fully integrated to ensure that the customer gets a seamless experience whatever channel they are interacting over. Otherwise, the business runs the risk of building customer frustration rather than customer satisfaction.

Thanks to Jeremy Payne at Enghouse Interactive

Define Focused KPIs

Businesses must define focused KPIs for their contact centre operations and make sure these are communicated clearly to all advisors.

It’s important to look beyond traditional metrics, such as Average Handling Time, and focus on measuring customer KPIs across all channels. These include Customer Satisfaction (CSat), First Contact Resolution (FCR) and quality scores.

Training advisors on the hard technical skills to use the communications platforms, as well as the soft skills required, will also help. Video calls, for example, require a different set of skills compared to voice calls or messaging.

Help Customers Realise All the Channel Options Available

Beyond knowing which channels are preferred, it’s also vital to know when to use the right channels – live chat requires instant answers, whereas messaging is asynchronous, but needs to happen quickly.

Businesses need to ensure that customers are aware of the communications options available to them, as this will empower customers to communicate using a channel of their choice.

Stephanie Liais

Stephanie Liais

It’s also important not to implement a new digital channel just because others are – digital channels should only be implemented because customers are making the demand, or because they are sure customers will be want the option in the future.

Business should take an iterative approach and avoid implementing all digital channels at the same time. This removes complexity from contact centre operations.

Thanks to Stephanie Liais at RingCentral

Consider How Conversations Switch From One Channel to Another

There will be contacts which start on one channel and then escalate to another, so you want to ensure that this transition is as “pain-free” as possible for the customer.

Michael McKinlay

For example, imagine that an advisor is having a live text chat with a prospect, who is getting frustrated and needs more information. The advisor might transfer the chat session to another live advisor, or offer to turn the chat into a voice call.

Using the right technology, a voice call can be easily set up from a browser, with no need for either the advisor or the customer to dial a number.  And the switching should be instant.

Thanks to Michael McKinlay at Sytel

Use Analytics to Find Ways of Improving Digital Service

Contact centre leaders can facilitate the building of a digital service strategy by analysing the touchpoints in the customer journey where digital effectiveness can improve. Workforce optimisation (WFM) analytics can help with this.

Leaders need to look carefully at their data to gain a better understanding of the contact centre throughput.

Brent Bischoff

Brent Bischoff

For example, look at the different customer contact points such as email, chat, SMS and social media, understand the types of customers who are engaging with these interactions.

To analyse more of the customer journey, businesses need to take a ‘blended’ front- and back-office approach, and modern technology can really help with this.

Thanks to Brent Bischoff at Business Systems

Just Remember – Don’t Forget About Voice!

When a company is implementing a digital service strategy, it shouldn’t overlook voice as a key option for inbound and outbound enquiries. Voice is becoming digital due to the growth in cloud or on-premise based softphone applications.

Therefore, as part of the digital voice strategy, contact centres need to ensure their headsets are future-proof to keep pace with this digital revolution.


Nigel Dunn

In a digital contact centre, headsets are capable of providing key agent data, which can then be analysed to make overall efficiency improvements and increase productivity.

While contact centres invest in a multitude of digital services, having a voice channel is still crucial to align with customer preference, as we should never forget that voice and human interactions are favoured when it comes to complex or sensitive enquires.

Thanks to Nigel Dunn at Jabra

For more from our panel of experts, read the following articles:

Author: Robyn Coppell

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