We regular get asked what customer service operations will be focusing on in the next five years. New technology and changes in the way we work mean the industry is continually evolving but from our experience best in breed customer service operations will need to consider the following four areas:

1. Create self-correcting operations.

Customer satisfaction scores keep dropping despite significant efforts to turn the tide. Working against all of us is the traditionally high attrition level in these departments, hindering the uptake of competent and ambitious plans. Best in class performers use tools like Voice of Customer to create self-improving organisations throughout staff behaviour, broken processes (internally and in other departments, creating avoidable contacts) and effectiveness. New technology such as verbatim transcriptions, sentiment analysis and automatic alerts, all help to automate self-improvement.

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2. Increase focus and widen approach to self-service.

In addition to improving online and IVR self-service, organisations need to create and embrace communities and forums where customers help each other. Companies with well-functioning self service solutions score much higher in satisfaction. The increased usage of self-service will also present a challenge in solving outstanding complex queries which require improved competency and training.

3. Understand that we are only as strong as our weakest link.

Discussing how to cover all parts of the customer journey is nothing new. However, top performers are only just starting to get it right, both in terms of centralising management of all channels (e.g. phone, web and branches) and gathering customer feedback from pre to post sales in the same place. By analysing this in conjunction with real-time productivity and employee metrics, organisations can get an unprecedented view of where the ball is being dropped, but also – crucially – why

4. Change the way we think about customer experience

A simple first step for us is to start talking about customer experience operations as opposed to customer service. A small adjustment of words yet resulting in a very important change in attitude, reminding us to cover everything that affects how the customer perceives us.