The Operationalization of Customer Service

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Continuing on the delivery of the early insights into the third version of the customer service adoption and usage study we are conducting with our friends at KANA, A Verint Company (the summary of early findings is here, and the findings on social can be found here, and mobile here) I’d like to explore a little bit more the operationalization of customer service.

From the beginning of this study we have been asking respondents to tell us who controls the customer service budget and where in the organizational chart they report. The original intent of the questions was for cross tabbing and demographics (which we continue to do to understand all issues better), but along the way we found a very intriguing reality. Starting last year we saw a rise in how many customer service organizations are reporting into operations (19% in 2013 and 24% in 2014).

Intrigued by this shift, and during follow-up interviews, we established a line of question to understand the change. After all, traditionally customer service had either been an independent organization within the company or usually reporting into marketing or sales (depending on the organization’s processes and budgets). Seldom did we see customer service report into more “internal” roles like operations or even IT.

We found three common topics among the many answers:

1.     Time for Operations. One of the most recurring answers was that during the past few years, with reduced or eliminated budgets due to the global recession, it was a great time to talk and think about strategies on how to support customers better and how to optimize customer service. Now that budgets are returning (and my inquiry load definitely supports that) we are going back to operations and implementing a lot of those strategies.

2.     End-to-End-Experiences. The trends dictating the transformation of the business (social networks, big data, customers in charge of conversations among others) are calling for organizations to deliver better infrastructure to let their customers build better end-to-end experiences – which customers are demanding and expecting. To do this, operations in customer service must match operations in the rest of the enterprise.

3.     Optimized Processes. Continuing on the trend of business transformation highlighted by the two previous insights, this is the element that was the most often cited (albeit, I may be biased due to my research in this area). As transformation takes over the business and processes are changed, operationalization of customer service to deliver on those new promises is essential. More and more businesses moving to transform and optimize their processes are taking this operationalization of customer service as the start of the solution.

Indeed, the evolution of business matched by the availability of budget is making customer service focus on operations once more. This is a good trend and will be explored in further detail in the detailed report to be published 2015.

Are you finding your customer service organization moving in the same direction? Are you operationalizing and optimizing customer service?

Let me know in the comments, would love to chat about it.

Disclaimer: KANA, A Verint Company, is a client and the sole sponsor of this research report. While they get input into the topics to survey, and provide feedback on the thesis before we start, the final decisions on content, questions, and analysis remain mine. There is no input from anyone else other than thinkJar and its employees (which, as you know, it’s just me) in making content and editorial decisions on the study, findings, and reports. All data is propriety of thinkJar and not shared or distributed.

Image via flickr

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