Trying to figure out how to guide your business through an uncertain economy? Start by investing in customer support.
Macroeconomic conditions like inflation, supply chain challenges, labour shortages, and rapid changes across industries have all disrupted business as we know it. How can you keep up as the global landscape constantly changes? The answer is to invest in customer support.
When your team has an efficient platform — not just a mashup of different tools acquired over the years — they can focus on delivering empathetic, effective customer service.
By going with one comprehensive and connected platform, you can eliminate spending on mix-and-match products. The experience can be streamlined for both your employees and customers. When it comes to investing in customer service, you have to provide your team with the right tools.
As the CMO of Service Cloud, I was excited to sit down with Amy Weaver, Salesforce’s president and CFO, at Dreamforce 2022 for the CFO Talk: The Value Customer Service Brings to Your Business, where she gave sound advice to leaders navigating their teams during these uncertain times.
Right from the start, Weaver said, “There is this idea that CFOs are looking to cut costs and that’s not always true. I am really looking for just three things right now: growth, cost-savings, and efficiency.”
Since Dreamforce, I’ve had time to reflect upon my discussion with her. Here are three ways that investing in the right tools and the right actions can help you weather economic uncertainty.
1. Focus on efficiency in your contact centre
As you invest in customer support, one of the first things to consider — especially during an unpredictable economy — is how to create efficiency. The challenge is to become more efficient while continuing to deliver seamless and connected experiences.
When everyone is talking about saving on costs, you can drive efficiency and productivity with things like automation and AI.
“Efficiency has never been more important,” Weaver said. “Literally, every conversation I’ve had with a CFO in the last 6 months has been about driving efficiencies, especially when you’re in uncertain times.”
Companies are facing two situations: they’re either trying to moderate headcount or they’re trying to hire in an unpredictable job market. Both lead to the need for maximum efficiency.
To work efficiently service professionals need visibility into the entire customer journey — all in one place. With this clarity, you can automate repetitive tasks and remove inefficient workflows. You can also create the right workflows once, and deploy them across every need your agents and others across your organisation have.
For example, support engineers who don’t have the right technology to do their job aren’t productive or efficient in their roles. As a leader, if you’re leaving contact centre agents to hunt for information like order numbers and return policies, this can lead to a poor employee experience. These problems are solved by deploying technology that has all their tasks, communication, and collaboration in one place. Automation helped us save 75,000 employee hours on repetitive tasks last year, which enabled our teams to focus on what matters most – our customers.
It’s never been more relevant to enable digital transformation for service teams and the support experience. With the right platform, you can increase the productivity of contact centre agents, managers, support engineers, and frontline workers by giving them all the information they need when they need it, to deliver a personalised customer experience.
And we all know that when your technology investments make your customer service team’s lives easier, your customers’ lives are easier too. This is the magic of efficiency.
2. Empathy and kindness are wise economical investments, too
Being empathetic can help you retain your employees, fostering an attitude that leads to repeat customers through heartfelt customer service. You can invest in customer support by leading with empathy.
During these times, it’s more important than ever to include compassion in your management toolkit. Empathy for your team bridges the gap in trust and transparency between service teams and the customer.
Contact centre agents are on the front lines all day with customers, both the good and the bad. So, as a leader, providing ongoing training and support to your agents improves and builds a comfortable and trusted working environment, and creates an open culture of communication.
“Going back to service and looking at the uncertainty we have right now in the economy,” Weaver said, “we have to shift to look at how we are serving our customers, our employees, and how we are leading as a company. We have to lead with kindness.”
Her view is that this allows teams to further their careers for success because they know that their managers truly want to see them succeed.
In Salesforce’s Fifth Edition State of Service report, we talked to more than 8,000 decision-makers, contact centre agents, and customer service professionals. We found that connection and empathy are still at the heart of great service.
To manage what comes next, you need to invest in customer support by focusing on the employee experience. This means not only equipping them with comprehensive technology, but also focusing on your team’s well-being and balance, and the right tools needed to do the job efficiently. It’s a package deal.
3. Invest in customer support with the proper tech
When times change, we often re-evaluate our technology, finding ways to cut costs. But what we’ve found is that investing in technology that will carry you through uncertain times can help you future-proof your business.
One thing that Amy said really stood out to me. By taking the time to understand each team member’s skill set, the support channels, and the tools they use to perform their duties, you can truly understand what would make their life easier.
By understanding what your team needs, you can focus on how they can increase productivity and efficiency. It’s not about cutting costs, it’s about finding the right tool for the job.
When it comes to customer support, this means communication, collaboration, relevant and real-time data, which leads to faster resolution and a better customer experience.
You can do this through a connected service platform that can quickly and efficiently handle any customer interaction, from the contact centre to the field. We found that 80% of service pros say consolidating platforms and vendors drives efficiency and reduces risk. Making the right customer service investment means growth for your team and your customers.
The key takeaway is that you can invest in customer support by investing in your team — and a comprehensive platform that will put your customers first.
Doing this will equip your team with real-time data, automated intelligent workflows, and personalised interactions with customers. And you’ll build a future with cost savings in mind, while you deliver quality of service at scale.
We encourage you to listen to your team’s needs and ask them what they need to succeed. If the goal is to do more with less, find the right tool to do just that. Efficiency means scaling customer support by investing in your team, and the tools that they use, while setting your sights on the future by leaning into change.
This strategy will help you set your team up for success — no matter what comes your way. Automation takes care of the easy stuff for your agents. Intelligence lets you stay one (or many) steps ahead while being proactive about solving customers’ needs. Timely data ensures you have the right information, at the right time — all making for very happy customers.
And, as Amy would say, throughout it all, lead with kindness.