Customers expect easy access to help and information, in any channel. And employees increasingly need a wider range of tools to make sure they get it, especially now that COVID-19 has accelerated customer expectations. A lot of service leaders already know this – the bigger challenge can be making sure that other stakeholders in the business understand this new imperative and are on board with projects that can transform customer experience.
That’s why we’ve been sitting down with great minds in service. In those discussions, Trailblazers like ASX and Pepperstone have explained how they’re improving customer experiences and the benefits they’re seeing.
Along with Trailblazer experiences, we’ve also heard helpful research from a Forrester 2021 Total Economic Impact™ study commissioned by Salesforce. Their analysis is based on research and interviews conducted with a variety of organisations using Service Cloud, consolidated into a single ‘composite organisation’ – a kind of hypothetical organisation based on real-world results. This composite organisation is a global conglomerate company with 2,500 employees, 625 service agents and 25,000 customers, fielding about 6.5 million interactions annually and seeing about a $15,000 average revenue per customer.
In other words, we’ve heard broader research combined with first-hand stories from Trailblazers. These are the numbers and examples that stuck out – and the advice that can help you form a strong business case for service transformation in your own organisation.
In our first webinar, Managing Call Centre Resources in a Changing World, Salesforce’s Regional Sales Director Jon Gamble pointed out that the State of Service report found 78% of service leaders saying their technology needs had changed radically and forever due to COVID-19. Jon noted that, with many contact centres still using spreadsheets, multiple systems or disjointed manual processes, service leaders need workforce management solutions that can help them forecast accurately and equip agents to handle cases faster and more efficiently.
Jon then pointed to additional research indicating that service is increasingly critical to customer retention, as well as the business costs of high agent turnover. Put simply? Now more than ever, organisations can’t afford to ignore the financial implications of service that lags new customer expectations.
So let’s look at some of the specific ways that organisations can keep up with these rapid changes.
In our second webinar, Creating Your Business Case for Change in Service, Veronica Iles, Senior Consultant at Forrester, explained that one of the major benefits their composite organisation saw was around consolidating their tech stack and decommissioning legacy systems. These benefits fit into three different categories, namely in licensing fees, employee resources and training costs.
“When you have several different systems, you're paying licencing costs for all of those,” said Veronica. “And our composite pays $30,000 a year for each of these systems. If it's able to retire two in the first year, three in the second year, and four by year three, that's driving significant licencing savings.”
Along with freeing employees from managing lots of different vendors or maintaining a legacy system, Veronica said that maintaining multiple systems requires agents to learn multiple tools. Consolidating those tools can impact the overall customer experience, but there’s a more direct cost savings, too.
“For our composite organisation, we've talked about three resources per tool retired as well as about $350 per agent trained,” said Veronica.
Keeping their tech stack and vendor management at bay was a major deciding factor for financial services company Pepperstone. Its Chief Information Officer Tim Bennett-Williams told us that, with high growth ambitions and a model that depends heavily on customer support, Salesforce Workforce Engagement is a “key enabler.”
When researching how to scale the growing business’s small support team, Tim said he opted for this solution at least partially because it keeps their tech slack lean. The business was already using Salesforce for most of its customer support, so Workforce Engagement was a “natural choice” that could help Tim keep the number of vendors he has to wrangle small and manageable.
Currently in a proof of concept phase, Tim says the solution is already freeing up time from manual forecasting and helping team leaders focus on higher-value work rather than the manual admin that can demand several days of work each week. And Tim has been able to drive these sorts of changes without a ballooning list of vendors.
As for addressing vendor management and technical debt in your business case, the second webinar included some advice for building ownership – and therefore a plan for moving forward – into your argument. Based on her experiences with transformation in a variety of other organisations, ASX’s Sophie Thou, Senior Manager of Customer Data and Performance, explained:
“Sometimes a new technology gets rolled out but the old legacy system lingers on for quite a number of years. I think in this case, a bit of a structure around the business case to take accountability to minimise and remove that legacy system is quite important.”
Veronica also explained that the Forrester analysis found organisations using Service Cloud were able to deflect between 10% and 40% of total case numbers across channels. This is because those organisations were able to add new chat and self service channels, often relying on knowledge articles as a first port of call. And agents that started leveraging chat service were able to handle three to four times more volume than they could previously.
Not only does this mean that customers are more likely to get faster information in their preferred channel, but there’s a very real cost benefit.
“Those cases that are deflected to self-service, they have a savings of $3.44 per case deflected and those that are deflected to chat save $2.58 cents.”
However, Veronica cautioned that these numbers are conservative estimates and only factor in agent burden. They don’t include other potential savings around training, onboarding or overhead.
In the same webinar, Sophie explained how ASX had recently implemented voice capabilities through Service cloud, and that case deflection could be a beneficial addition to a business case.
“I think if we look to couple [case deflection] with the right digital experience, you can argue that eventually what you're giving or providing customers is an opportunity to self-serve by other means. Naturally, you would expect that the amount of cases that we create manually before the voice implementation would also be reduced.”
Sophie also called back to the importance of consolidating tools, not just during the handling of a case but also the post-interaction reporting. In addition to a “richer” experience for the customer, ASX’s service changes now mean that agents can access a broader picture of the customer.
“That customer is not just a number, but is actually a real human being that's called through. I think that's very important for a business like ours that's looking to also do some transformation around customer experience as well.”
Veronica explained one of the other big benefits Forrester heard from organisations that had invested in Service Cloud was a more holistic, integrated view of their customers. Many of these organisations had started building out a Salesforce platform that cut across functions beyond service, removing informational silos and replacing tedious manual work with more strategic or commercial value.
“What I heard is that customers who used [Salesforce products for both service and sales] saw a really distinct uplift in customer retention,” Veronica told us, explaining that both service agents and sales representatives were empowered to provide more seamless experiences for customers – and to step in when customers encounter an issue during that life cycle.
“All of these factors contribute to a better customer experience, and therefore better customer retention. The way we’re calculating this for our composite [organisation] is we’re taking the number of customers and looking at the attrition rate before the Salesforce investment.
“And I heard from the customers that they were able to improve that retention anywhere between 10% and 30% over the course of those three years.”
This is a big part of Pepperstone’s strategy for enabling growth, as Tim explained in our first webinar.
“Part of that means starting to pivot our support teams and our service teams into a more commercial function that can look for opportunities to cross-sell and upsell more successfully. And we're only going to be able to do that if our team leaders have the capacity and capability to deliver coaching to the team members so that they can deliver on those outcomes.”
Overall, Forrester’s analysis concluded that an organisation that invests in Service Cloud can receive a 248% return on investment over three years, with benefits of $20 million and a net present value of $14.6 million.
Numbers like that can make a pretty compelling business case, but how can service leaders make similar calculations based on their own organisations and circumstances?
Veronica’s ultimate advice was to download the report (accessible through the on-demand webinar) and use their analysis as a framework for understanding your own business’s numbers.
“Think about replacing the composite characteristics with your own. And in that financial framework, you can recreate and fine tune for your organisation to really come out with a well-justified and conservative ROI estimate.”
So hard we’ve heard some persuasive analysis and inspiring advice, but we’re not done just yet. Join us for the next webinar, An Insider’s Guide to the Field Service Playbook, where we’ll hear from Transport NSW and explore the practical realities of transforming field service.