On Tuesday 27th November 2018, IDC and Salesforce hosted a dinner discussion for senior executives from some of the world's largest organisations. Their mission? To discuss the hottest topic in customer service management today: 'How is intelligent service shifting customer interactions from transactions to conversations?'

This is a pivotal question for organisations to reflect on. Customers today interact with their providers across many different channels, on different devices. Often different agents do not share case progress, and customers have to take responsibility themselves for piecing together their own customer journey. This is far from a great experience.

With customer expectations rising, this traditional service model is no longer good enough. Customers are demanding a cohesive and personalised experience, leaving transactional service obsolete. In conversational service, the provider takes full responsibility and accountability for customer success in a highly interactive engagement using a complete set of real-time customer data that drives the conversation and creates a seamless and effortless customer journey.



The ROI of adopting conversational service

Our executives were challenged to justify the ROI of adopting conversational service.  All agreed that "conversational service conceptually makes sense" and was a key business objective, however, none to date had a fully operational conversational service solution.

Some felt the concept of conversational service was big and complex and needed to be justified in bite-size pieces with proof points. Clearly, conversational service is not a packaged 'silver bullet' solution and needs customisation by industry, company operating model, and by customer segment. And while conversational service can be an intimidating initiative to approach, it’s essential that organisations engage with the concept.


The cloud imperative

In the view of our executives, conversational service needs deployment on a cloud (SaaS) platform for flexibility, mobile deployment, and security; and agents need to be empowered with the necessary digital conversational tools for success.

Adoption needs to be driven through Line of Business (LoB) Heads who need to visibly support digital initiatives. As one attendee commented, "sometimes we need to be a bit more Darth Vader and a bit less Princess Leah" in our approach to 'buying in' Departmental Heads. Cloud governance is key, and centralised control and standards are necessary. High integrity consolidated customer data is a key enabler for conversational service to be operationalised. 'Cloud for Cloud's sake' is not an option.

Conversational service requires not only the buy-in of senior management but also front-line service staff. Mobile is a critical component, and buy-in and empowerment of your customers into using new self-service technologies, providing real-time customer data and analytic tools is a modern imperative. Large enterprises can learn much from digital disruptors such as Just Eat and Monzo in this regard.

By focusing on intelligent, conversational service, organisations can not just meet but exceed customer expectations. As discussed at this dinner, this is a big transformation and not an easy undertaking. But when department leads get together to have these conversations, it opens the opportunity to create a seamless experience for your customers.

Just like this dinner, Salesforce brings executives together for insightful conversations across the UK. Interested in joining the next one? Contact Kerry Warner kwarner@salesforce.com or Gerry Brown at gbrown@idc.com or LinkedIn: /gerrybrown.


To learn more about the trends driving customer service and helping them smarter, faster connected experiences, check out the State of Service report. Or find out more in our Intelligent Customer Service hub.


IDC EMEA is the provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. For 50 years IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC’s Insights businesses provide industry-focused advice for IT buyers in the Financial, Government, Health, Retail, Manufacturing and Energy verticals. https://uk.idc.com/