If I gave you all the ingredients that go into a great falafel, would you succeed in putting together the best falafel there is, or even an edible version of it? You and I know that those who haven’t cooked in the past, are very likely to end up with an inedible dish, despite having access to all the ingredients, self-explanatory instruction, and all other implements of cooking. Professionals from other fields, creating products for service is a bit like that, despite having all the constituents of a great service product, their creation, in most cases, leaves a lot to be desired.

‘CX Automation’ is in vogue!

When demand soars supply picks up to create what is called a demand-supply equilibrium. Simply put, the market today, is rife with products that claim to automate ‘service operation’. In my reviews, I have found that a vast majority of these solutions fall horribly short. The primary reason for the inadequacy, in my humble assessment, is that these technology products were conceived and created by good people who have not served/faced one real customer in their entire career. Their approach to the solution, therefore, lacks relatability and practical application. Don’t get me wrong, there is great feature parity among these solutions but they get the organisation of these features wrong, so much so, that deploying these solutions might further complicate the workings of the service operation team. The falafel scene.

What most CX Automation solution providers miss is that the sum total of service operation is not just ‘responding to customers’. CX Automation is not about simply digitising the operations. It is not only about automating the conversations, with solutions like BOTs (both voice and chat). Service operations are about creating a bridge between the customers and the inner workings of the organisation. Service professionals are supposed to be effective interlocutors between the consumer and the corporation. Their primary goal is to create harmony between the user and the product, bring clarity and take the purpose of the product to the consumers. What that issue could be you might think. In the interest, of being succinct let me just say that one can broadly categorise the need for service and its enablers in five categories. 

  1. Education problem: Where the intent of the product/feature/process remains insufficiently explained or is inadequately interpreted, leaving the customer with the false belief that something is broken.
    1. Here the responsibilities of the service operations team do not end at, clearing the air by educating the customer but they are also responsible for making sure that they unearth ways to reach out to all those customers who might have misunderstood the communication and educate them, proactively. They are also needed to identify the elements of the communication that might have caused the confusion and then work with the respective stakeholders to correct those and also adopt a process that will ensure that the same or similar errors, never leave the workshop of the organisation.
  2. Broken system: These constitute complaints, situations in which things do not work as promised or advertised.
    1. Here, the service operations team need to understand, acknowledge and then gather evidence of the error so that other stakeholders in the organisation responsible for fixing the problem recognise the flaw and correct them. Here also, they are required to find out the possible set of users who might have got impacted by the error, get the issue resolved for all. And then decide if there is merit in communicating it to the impacted base of users. Judgement is important, you do not want to create unwarranted panic. Root cause analysis is required to be performed. The practice of ‘Corrective and preventive action‘ is needed to be institutionalised.
  3. Close Looping and surveys: Essential part of the brand communication in which the organisation gives an update to the user about the issue in question.
    1.  It is required to be contextual, representative of the organisational values and at the same time carrying the content of the matter at hand, as clearly and as simply as possible. It is always important to find out how customers are feeling about doing business with the brand. A structured survey mechanism should be operationalised:  the whole business of deciding on what to ask, whom to pray, how frequently to summon, what to do with the feedback etc.
  4. The business of running the service operation: There are a lot of moving parts that need to be well oiled to make a service operations team function both effectively and efficiently. Some of the building blocks of which are.
    1. WFM Tool: Demand estimation, what could be the volume of support generated and to cater to it what is the kind of manpower that might be required, down to the half-hourly interval.
    2. Training management system: An engaging and experiential way to train the team on product, platform, processes.
      1. Gauging their knowledge, TNI, TNA.
    3. Knowledge management systems – A central repository of all the knowledge. Read this article in which I have delved into some details on this topic.
      1. Knowledge Management and Service!
    4. Quality management system: A platform to assess the quality of service being given from the service desk
  5. Reporting and MIS: Need I elaborate?

That is the brief scope of service operation automation!

To separate the wheat from the chaff, you need to ask the below question of the solution that is presented to you. The idea is to give you a perspective to evaluate: which solution to trust, what to look for in a product, how does the economy of the product help you meet your fiscal commitments.

We need a framework for the selection of the tool not just to accurately gauge the quality of the solution on the offer but also to understand to what degree does it help to automate and how much ground does it cover, from the entire scope of service operations.

Look for these:

  1. Plot your day as head of the service operation, in an elaborate map.
  2. Against the map see the area that is being covered.
  3. Check how are they going about the tasks and the processes that you and your team execute, day in and day out.
    1. Are they doing it better?
    2. It is going to be easier for the customers to do business on this new platform.
    3. What are the accuracy levels?
    4. Under what circumstances does the solution break.

Always remember that CX automation is not an event it is a journey and when on it, you will need to carefully choose the path that you need to take.

I hope this has been helpful, good luck!

By lavkush