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Develop an IT Strategy to Support Customer Service

IT can help pave the way for a Customer Service transformation.

  • Customer expectations regarding service are rapidly evolving. As your current IT systems may be viewed as ineffective at delivering upon these expectations, a transformation is called for.
  • It is unclear whether IT has the system architecture/infrastructure to support modern Customer Service channels and technologies.
  • The relationship between Customer Service and IT is strained. Strategic system-related decisions are being made without the inclusions of IT, and IT is only engaged post-purchase to address integration or issues as they arise.
  • Scope: An ABPM-centric approach is taken to model the desired future state, and retrospectively look into the current state to derive gaps and sequential requirements. The requirements are bundled into logical IT initiatives to be plotted on a roadmap and strategy document.
  • Challenge: The extent to which business processes can be mapped down to task-based Level 5 can be challenging depending on the maturity of the organization.
  • Pain/Risk: The health of the relationship between IT and Customer Service may determine project viability. Poor collaboration and execution may strain the relationship further.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • When transformation is called for, start with future state visioning. Current state analysis can impede your ability to see future needs and possibilities.
  • Solve your own problems by enhancing core or “traditional” Customer Service functionality first, and then move on to more ambitious business enabling functionality.
  • The more rapidly businesses can launch applications in today’s market, the better positioned they are to improve customer experience and reap the associated benefits. Ensure that technology is implemented with a solid strategy to support the initiative.

Impact and Result

  • The right technology is established to support current and future Customer Service needs.
  • Streamlined and optimized Customer Service processes that drive efficiency and improve Customer Service quality are established.
  • The IT and Customer Service functions are both transformed from a cost center into a competitive advantage.

Develop an IT Strategy to Support Customer Service Research & Tools

1. Structure the project

Identify project stakeholders, define roles, and create the project charter.

2. Define vision for future state

Identify and model the future state of key business processes.

3. Document current state and assess gaps

Model the current state of key business processes and assess gaps.

4. Evaluate solution options

Review the outputs of the current state architecture health assessment and adopt a preliminary posture on architecture.

5. Evaluate application options

Evaluate the marketplace applications to understand the “art of the possible.”

6. Frame desired state and develop roadmap

Compile and score a list of initiatives to bridge the gaps, and plot the initiatives on a strategic roadmap.


Member Testimonials

After each Info-Tech experience, we ask our members to quantify the real-time savings, monetary impact, and project improvements our research helped them achieve. See our top member experiences for this blueprint and what our clients have to say.

Client

Experience

Impact

$ Saved

Days Saved

Qantas Airways

Guided Implementation

10/10

$12,733

2


Workshop: Develop an IT Strategy to Support Customer Service

Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Define Vision for Future State

The Purpose

  • Discuss Customer Service-related organizational goals and align goals with potential strategies for implementation.
  • Score level 5 Customer Service business processes against organizational goals to come up with a shortlist for modeling.
  • Create a future state model for one of the shortlisted business processes.
  • Draft the requirements as they relate to the business process.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Preliminary list of Customer Service-related business goals
  • List of Customer Service business processes (Task Level 5)
  • Pre-selected Customer Service business process for modeling

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Outline and prioritize your customer goals and link their relevance and value to your Customer Service processes with the Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool.

  • Initial position on viable Customer Service strategies
  • Shortlist of key business processes
1.2

Score customer service business processes against organizational goals with the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.

  • Documented future state business process model
  • Business/functional/non-functional requirements

Module 2: Document Current State and Assess Gaps

The Purpose

  • Create a current state model for the shortlisted business processes.
  • Score the functionality and integration of current supporting applications.
  • Revise future state model and business requirements.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Inventory of Customer Service supporting applications
  • Inventory of related system interfaces

Activities

Outputs

2.1

Holistically assess multiple aspects of Customer Service-related IT assets with the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.

  • Documented current state business process model
  • Customer Service systems health assessment

Module 3: Adopt an Architectural Posture

The Purpose

  • Review the Customer Service systems health assessment results.
  • Discuss options.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Completed Customer Service systems health assessment
  • Application options

Activities

Outputs

3.1

Analyze CS Systems Strategy and review results with the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool

  • Posture on system architecture

Module 4: Frame Desired State and Develop Roadmap

The Purpose

  • Draft a list of initiatives based on requirements.
  • Score and prioritize the initiatives.
  • Plot the initiatives on a roadmap.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Business/functional/non-functional requirements

Activities

Outputs

4.1

Help project and management stakeholders visualize the implementation of Customer Service IT initiatives with the Customer Service Initiative Scoring and Roadmap Tool.

  • Scored and prioritized list of initiatives
  • Customer Service implementation roadmap

Develop an IT Strategy to Support Customer Service

E-commerce is accelerating, and with it, customer expectations for exceptional digital service.

Analyst Perspective

The future of Customer Service is digital. Your organization needs an IT strategy to meet this demand.

The image contains a picture of Thomas E. Randall.

As the pandemic closed brick-and-mortar stores, the acceleration of ecommerce has cemented Customer Service’s digital future. However, the pandemic also revealed severe cracks in the IT strategy of organizations’ Customer Service – no matter the industry. These cracks may include low resolution and high wait times through the contact center, or a lack of analytics that fuel a reactive environment. Unfortunately, organizations have no time to waste in resolving these issues. Customer patience for poor digital service has only decreased since March 2020, leaving organizations with little to no runway for ramping up their IT strategy.

Organizations that quickly mature their digital Customer Service will come out the other side of COVID-19 more competitive and with a stronger reputation. This move necessitates a concrete IT strategy for coordinating what the organization’s future state should look like and agreeing on the technologies and software required to meet this state across the entire organization.

Thomas E. Randall, Ph.D.

Senior Research Analyst, Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

Common Obstacles

Info-Tech’s Solution

  • COVID-19 has accelerated ecommerce, rapidly evolving customer expectations about the service they should receive. Without a robust IT strategy for enabling remote, contactless points of service, your organization will quickly fall behind.
  • The organization would like to use modern channels and technologies to enhance customer service, but it is unclear whether IT has the infrastructure to support them.
  • The relationship between Customer Service and IT is strained. Strategic system-related decisions are being made without the inclusion of IT.
  • IT is in a permanent reactive state, only engaged post-purchase to fix issues as they arise and to offer workarounds.
  • Use Info-Tech’s methodology to produce an IT strategy for Customer Service:
    • Phase 1: Define Project and Future State
    • Phase 2: Evaluate Current State
    • Phase 3: Build a Roadmap to Future State
  • Each phase contributes toward this blueprint’s key deliverable: the Strategic Roadmap.

Info-Tech Insight

IT must proactively engage with the organization to define what good customer service should look like. This ensures IT has a fair say in what kinds of architectural solutions are feasible for any projected future state. In this proactive scenario, IT can help build the roadmap for implementing and maintaining customer service infrastructure and operations, reducing the time and resources spent on putting out preventable fires or trying to achieve an unworkable goal set by the organization.

Key insights

Develop an IT Strategy to Support Customer Service

Ecommerce growth has increased customer expectations

Despite the huge obstacles that organizations are having to overcome to meet accelerating ecommerce from the pandemic, customers have not increased their tolerance for organizations with poor service. Indeed, customer expectations for excellent digital service have only increased since March 2020. If organizations cannot meet these demands, they will become uncompetitive.

The future of customer service is tied up in analytics

Without a coordinated IT strategy for leveraging technology and data to improve Customer Service, the organization will quickly be left behind. Analytics and reporting are crucial for proactively engaging with customers, planning marketing campaigns, and building customer profiles. Failing to do so leaves the organization blind to customer needs and will constantly be in firefighting mode.

Meet the customer wherever they are – no matter the channel

Providing an omnichannel experience is fast becoming a table stakes offering for customers. To maximize customer engagement and service, the organization must connect with the customer on whatever channel the customer prefers – be it social media, SMS, or by phone. While voice will continue to dominate how Customer Service connects with customers, demographics are shifting toward a digital-first generation. Organizations must be ready to capture this rapidly expanding audience.

This blueprint will achieve:

Increased customer satisfaction

  • An IT strategy for Customer Service that proactively meets customer demand, improving overall customer satisfaction with the organization’s services.
  • A process for identifying the organization’s future state of Customer Service and developing a concrete gap analysis.

Time saved

  • Ready-to-use deliverables that analyze and provide a roadmap toward the organization’s desired future state.
  • Market analyses and rapid application selection through SoftwareReviews to streamline project time-to-completion.

Increased ROI

  • A modernization process that aids Customer Service digital transformation, with a view to achieve high ROI.
  • Save costs through an effective requirements gathering method.
  • Building and expanding the organization’s customer base to increase revenues by meeting the customers where they are – no matter what channel.

An IT strategy for customer service is imperative for a post-COVID world

COVID-19 has accelerated ecommerce, rapidly evolving customer expectations for remote, contactless service.

59% Of customers agree that the pandemic has raised their standards for service (Salesforce, 2020).

  • With COVID-19, most customer demand and employment moved online and turned remote.
  • Retailers had to rapidly respond, meeting customer demand through ecommerce. This not only entailed a complete shift in how customers could buy their goods but how retailers could provide a remote customer journey from discovery to post-purchase support.

Info-Tech Insight

The pandemic did not improve customer tolerance for bad service – instead, the demand for good service increased dramatically. Organizations need an IT strategy to meet customer support demands wherever the customer is located.

The technology to provide remote customer support is surging

IT needs to be at the forefront of learning about and suggesting new technologies, working with Customer Service to deliver a consistent, business-driven approach.

78%

Of decision makers say they’ve invested in new technology as a result of the pandemic (Salesforce, 2020).

OMNICHANNEL SUPPORT

Rapidly changing demographics and modes of communications require an evolution toward omnichannel engagement. Agents need customer information synced across each channel they use, meeting the customer’s needs where they are.

78%

Of customers have increased their use of self-service during the pandemic (Salesforce, 2020).

INTELLIGENT SELF-SERVICE PORTALS

Customers want their issues resolved as quickly as possible. Machine-learning self-service options deliver personalized customer experiences, which also reduce both agent call volume and support costs for the organization.

90%

Of global executives who use data analytics report that they improved their ability to deliver a great customer experience (Gottlieb, 2019).

LEVERAGING ANALYTICS

The future of customer service is tied up with analytics: from AI-driven capabilities that include agent assist and using biometric data (e.g., speech) for security, to feeding real insights about how customers and agents are doing and performing.

Executive Brief – Case Study

Self-service options improve quality of service and boost organization’s competitiveness in a digital marketspace.

INDUSTRY: Financial Services

SOURCE: TSB

Situation

Solution

Results

  • The pandemic increased pressure on TSB’s Customer Service, with higher call loads from their five million customers who were anxious about their financial situation.
  • TSB needed to speed up its processing times to ensure loan programs and other assistances were provided as quickly as possible.
  • As meeting in-person became impossible due to the lockdown, TSB had to step up its digital abilities to serve their customers.
  • TSB sought to boost its competitiveness by shifting as far as possible to digital services.
  • TSB launched government loan programs in 36 hours, ahead of its competitors.
  • TSB created and released 21 digital self-service forms for customers to complete without needing to interact with bank staff.
  • TSB processed 140,000 forms in three months, replacing 15,000 branch visits.
  • TSB increased digital self-service rate by nine percent.

IT can demonstrate its value to business by enhancing remote customer service

IT must engage with Customer Service – otherwise, IT risks being perennially reactive and dictated to as remote customer service needs increase.

IT benefits

Customer Service benefits

  • The right technology is established to support Customer Service.
  • IT is viewed as a strategic partner and innovator, not just a cost center and support function.
  • Streamlined and optimized Customer Service processes that drive efficiency and improve Customer Service quality.
  • Transformation of the Customer Service function into a competitive advantage.

Info-Tech Insight

Change to how Customer Service will operate is inevitable. This is an opportunity for IT to establish their value to the business and improve their autonomy in how new technologies should be onboarded and utilized.

Customer Service and IT need to work together to mitigate their pain points

IT and Customer Service have an opportunity to reinforce and build their organization’s customer base by working together to streamline operations.

IT pain points

Customer Service pain points

  • IT lacks understanding of Customer Service challenges and pain points.
  • IT has technical debt or constrained technology funding.
  • The IT department is viewed as a cost center and support organization, not an engine of innovation, growth, and service delivery performance.
  • Processes supporting Customer Service delivery may be sub-optimal.
  • The existing technology cannot support the increasingly advanced needs of Customer Service functions.
  • Customer Service isn’t fully aware of what your customers think of your service quality. There is little to no monitoring of customer sentiment.
  • There is a lack of value-based segmentation of customers and information on their channel usage and preferences.
  • Competitor actions are not actively monitored.

IT often cannot spark a debate with Customer Service on whether a decision made without IT is misaligned with corporate direction. It’s almost always an uphill battle for IT.

Sahri Lava, Research Director, IDC

Develop an IT Strategy to Support Customer Service

DON’T FALL BEHIND

70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one (Tech Pro Research, 2018). Unless IT can enable technology that meets the customer where they are, the organization will quickly fall behind in an age of accelerating ecommerce.

DEVELOP FUTURE STATES

Many customer journeys are now exclusively digital – 63% of customers expect to receive service over social media (Ringshall, 2020). Organization’s need an IT strategy to develop the future of their customer service – from leveraging analytics to self-service AI portals.

BUILD GAP ANALYSIS

73% of customers prefer to shop across multiple channels (Sopadjieva et al., 2017). Assess your current state’s application integrations and functionality to ensure your future state can accurately sync customer information across each channel.

SHORTLIST SOLUTIONS

Customer relationship management software is one of the world's fastest growing industries (Kuligowski, 2022). Choosing a best-fit solution requires an intricate analysis of the market, future trends, and your organization’s requirements.

ADVANCE CHANGE

95% of customers cite service as key to their brand loyalty (Microsoft, 2019). Build out your roadmap for the future state to retain and build your customer base moving forward.

Use Info-Tech’s method to produce an IT strategy for Customer Service:

PHASE 1: Define Project and Future State

Output: Project Charter and Future State Business Processes

1.1 Structure the Project

1.2 Define a Vision for Future State

1.3 Document Preliminary Requirements

KEY DELIVERABLE:

Strategic Roadmap

The image contains a screenshot of the strategic roadmap.

PHASE 2: Evaluate Current State

Output: Requirements Identified to Bridge Current to Future State

2.1 Document Current State Business Processes

2.2 Assess Current State Architecture

2.3 Review and Finalize Requirements for Future State

PHASE 3: Build a Roadmap to Future State

Output: Initiatives and Strategic Roadmap

3.1 Evaluate Architectural and Application Options

3.2 Understand the Marketplace

3.3 Score and Plot Initiatives Along Your Strategic Roadmap

Key deliverable and tools outline

Each step of this blueprint is accompanied by supporting materials to help you accomplish your goals.

Project RACI Chart

Activity 1.1a Organize roles and responsibilities for carrying out project steps.

The image contains a screenshot of the Project RACI Chart.

Key Deliverable:

Strategic Roadmap

Develop, prioritize, and implement key initiatives for your customer service IT strategy, plotting and tracking them on an easy-to-read timeline.

The image contains a screenshot of the Strategic Roadmap.

Business Process Shortlisting Tool

Activities 1.2a, 1.2b, and 2.1aOutline and prioritize customer service goals.

The image contains a screenshot of the Business Process Shortlisting Tool.

Project Charter Template

Activity 1.1b Define the project, its key deliverables, and metrics for success.

The image contains a screenshot of the Project Charter Template.

Systems Strategy Tool

Activities 1.3a, Phase 2, 3.1a Prioritize requirements, assess current state customer service functions, and decide what to do with your current systems going forward.

.The image contains a screenshot of the Systems Strategy Tool.

Looking ahead: defining metrics for success

Phase 1 of this blueprint will help solidify how to measure this project’s success. Start looking ahead now.

For example, the metrics below show the potential business benefits for several stakeholders through building an IT strategy for Customer Service. These stakeholders include agents, customers, senior leadership, and IT. The benefits of this project are listed to the right.

Metric Description

Current Metric

Future Goal

Number of channels for customer contact

1

6

Customer self-service resolution

0%

50%

% ROI

- 4%

11%

Agent satisfaction

42%

75%

As this project nears completion:

  1. Customers will have more opportunities for self-service resolution.
  2. Agents will experience higher satisfaction, improving attrition rates.
  3. The organization will experience higher ROI from its digital Customer Service investments.
  4. Customers can engage the contact center via a communication channel that suits them.

Info-Tech offers various levels of support to best suit your needs

DIY Toolkit

Guided Implementation

Workshop

Consulting

“Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful.”“Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track.”“We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place.”“Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project.”

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks used throughout all four options

Guided Implementation

What does a typical Guided Implementation on this topic look like?

Define Project and Future StateDocument and Assess Current StateEvaluate Architectural and Application OptionsBuild Roadmap to Future State

Call #1: Introduce project, defining its vision and metrics of success.

Call #2: Review environmental scan to define future state vision.

Call #3: Examine future state business processes to compile initial requirements.

Call #4: Document current state business processes.

Call #5: Assess current customer service IT architecture.

Call #6: Refine and prioritize list of requirements for future state.

Call #7: Evaluate architectural options.

Call #8: Evaluate application options.

Call #9:Develop and score initiatives to future state.

Call #10: Develop timeline and roadmap.

Call #11: Review progress and wrap-up project.

A Guided Implementation is a series of calls with an Info-Tech analyst to help implement our best practices in your organization.

A typical Guided Implementation is two to 12 calls over the course of four to six months.

Workshop Overview

Contact your account representative for more information.
workshops@infotech.com1-888-670-8889

Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5

Define Your Vision for Future State

Document Current State and Assess Gaps

Adopt an Architectural Posture

Frame Desired State and Develop Roadmap

Communicate and Implement

Activities

1.1 Outline and prioritize your customer goals.

1.2 Link customer service goals’ relevance and value to your Customer Service processes.

1.3 Score Customer Service business processes against organizational goals.

2.1 Holistically assess multiple aspects of Customer Service-related IT assets with Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.

3.1 Analyze Customer Service Systems Strategy and review results with the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.

4.1 Help project management stakeholders visualize implementation of Customer Service IT initiatives.

4.2 Build strategic roadmap and plot initiatives.

5.1 Finalize deliverables.

5.2 Support communication efforts.

5.3 Identify resources in support of priority initiatives.

Deliverables

  1. Initial position on viable Customer Service strategies.
  2. Shortlist of key business processes.
  3. Documented future-state business process model.
  4. Business/functional/non-functional requirements.
  1. Documented current state business process model.
  2. Customer Service systems health assessment.
  3. Inventory of Customer Service supporting applications.
  4. Inventory of related system interfaces.
  1. Posture on system architecture.
  2. Completed Customer Service systems health assessment.
  3. List of application options.
  1. Scored and prioritized list of initiatives.
  2. Customer Service implementation roadmap.
  1. Customer Service IT Strategy Roadmap.
  2. Mapping of Info-Tech resources against individual initiatives.

Phase 1

Define Project and Future State

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

1.1 Structure the Project

1.2 Define Vision for Future State

1.3 Document Preliminary Requirements

2.1 Document Current State Business Processes

2.2 Assess Current State Architecture

2.3 Review and Finalize Requirements for Future State

3.1 Evaluate Architectural and Application Options

3.2 Understand the Marketplace

3.3 Score and Plot Initiatives Along Strategic Roadmap

This phase will guide you through the following activities:

1.1a Create your project’s RACI chart to establish key roles throughout the timeline of the project.

1.1b Finalize your project charter that captures the key goals of the project, ready to communicate to stakeholders for approval.

1.2a Begin documenting business processes to establish potential future states.

1.2b Model future state business processes for looking beyond current constraints and building the ideal scenario.

1.3a Document your preliminary requirements for concretizing a future state and performing a gap analysis.

Participants required for Phase 1:

  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director
  • IT and Customer Service Representatives

1.1 Identify process owners early for successful project execution

IT and Customer Service must work in tandem throughout the project. Both teams’ involvement ensures all stakeholders are heard and support the final decision.

Customer Service Perspective

IT Perspective

  • Customer Service is the victim of pain points resulting from suboptimal systems and it stands to gain the most benefits from a well-planned systems strategy.
  • Looking to reduce pain points, Customer Service will likely initiate, own, and participate heavily in the project.
  • Customer Service must avoid the tendency to make IT-independent decisions. This could lead to disparate systems that contribute little to the overall organizational goals.
  • IT owns the application and back-end support of all Customer Service business processes. Any technological aspect of processes will need IT involvement.
  • IT may or may not have the mandate to run the Customer Service strategy project. Responsibility for systems decisions remains with IT.
  • IT should own the task of filtering out unnecessary or infeasible application and technology decisions. IT capabilities to support such acquisitions and post-purchase maintenance must be considered.

Info-Tech Insight

While involving management is important for high-level strategic decisions, input from those who interact day-to-day with the systems is a crucial component to a well-planned strategy.

1.1 Define project roles and responsibilities to improve progress tracking

Assign responsibilities, accountabilities, and other project involvement roles using a RACI chart.

  • IT should involve Customer Service from the beginning of project planning to implementation and execution. The project requires input and knowledge from both functions to succeed.
  • Do not let the tasks be forgotten within inter-functional communication. Define roles and responsibilities for the project as early as possible.
  • Each member of the project team should be given a RACI designation, which will vary for each task to ensure clear ownership, execution, and progress tracking.
  • Assigning RACI early can:
    • Improve project quality by assigning the right people to the right tasks.
    • Improve chances of project task completion by assigning clear accountabilities.
    • Improve project buy-in by ensuring that stakeholders are kept informed of project progress, risks, and successes.

R – Responsibility

A – Accountability

C – Consulted

I – Informed

1.1 Use Info-Tech’s recommended process owners and roles for this blueprint

Customer Service Head

Customer Service Director

CIO

Applications Director*

CEO/COO

Marketing Head

Sales Head

Determine Project Suitability

ARCCCII

Phase 1.1

CCARIII

Phases 1.2 – 1.3

ARCCICC

Phase 2

ARICIII

Phase 3.1

(Architectural options)

CCARIII

Phase 3.1

(Application options)

ACIRICC

Phases 3.2 – 3.3

CCARCII

* The Applications Director is to compile a list of Customer Service systems; the Customer Service Director is responsible for vetting a list and mapping it to Customer Service functions.

** The Applications Director is responsible for technology-related decisions (e.g. SaaS or on-premise, integration issues); the Customer Service Director is responsible for functionality-related decisions.

1.1a Create your project’s RACI chart

1 hour

  1. The Applications Director and Customer Service Head should identify key participants and stakeholders of the project.
  2. Use Info-Tech’s Project RACI Chart to identify ownership of tasks.
  3. Record roles in the Project RACI Chart.
The image contains a screenshot of the project RACI chart.
InputOutput
  • Identification of key project participants and stakeholders.
  • Identification of key project participants and stakeholders.

Materials

Participants

  • Project RACI Chart
  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director

Download the Project RACI Chart

1.1 Start developing the project charter

A project charter should address the following:

  • Executive Summary and Project Overview
    • Goals
    • Benefits
    • Critical Success Factors
  • Scope
  • Key Deliverables
  • Stakeholders and RACI
  • Risk Assessment
    • What are some risks you may encounter during project execution?
  • Projected Timeline and Key Milestones
  • Review and Approval Process

What is a project charter?

  • The project charter defines the project and lays the foundation for all subsequent project planning.
  • Once approved by the business, the charter gives the project lead formal authority to initiate the project.

Why create a project charter?

  • The project charter allows all parties involved to reach an agreement and document major aspects of the project.
  • It also supports the decision-making process and can be used as a communication tool.

Stakeholders must:

  • Understand and agree on the objectives and important characteristics of the project charter before the project is initiated.
  • Be given the opportunity to adjust the project charter to better address their needs and concerns.

1.1b Finalize the project charter

1-2 hours

  1. Request relevant individuals and parties to complete sections of Info-Tech’s Project Charter Template.
  2. Input the simplified RACI output from tab 3 in Info-Tech’s Project RACI Chart tool into the RACI section of the charter.
  3. Send the completed template to the CIO and Customer Service Head for approval.
  4. Communicate the document to stakeholders for changes and finalization.
The image contains a screenshot of the Project Charter Template.

Input

Output

  • Customer Service and IT strategies
  • Justification of impetus to begin this project
  • Timeline estimates
  • A completed project charter that captures the key goals of the project, ready to communicate to stakeholders for approval.

Materials

Participants

  • Project RACI Chart
  • Project Charter Template
  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director

Download the Project Charter Template

1.2 IT must play a role shaping Customer Service’s future vision

IT is only one or two degrees of separation from the end customer – their involvement can significantly impact the customer experience.

IT

Customer Service

Customer

Customer Service-Facing Application

Customer-Facing Application

  • IT enables, supports, and maintains the applications used by the Customer Service organization to service customers. IT provides the infrastructural and technical foundation to operate the function.
  • IT supports customer-facing interfaces and channels for Customer Service interaction.
  • Channel examples include web pages, mobile device applications and optimization, and interactive voice response for callers.

1.2 Establish a vision for Customer Service excellence

Info-Tech has identified three prominent Customer Service strategic patterns. Evaluate which fits best with your situation and organization.

Retention

Efficiency

Cross-Sell/Up-Sell

Ensuring customers remain customers by providing proactive customer service and a seamless omnichannel strategy.

Reducing costs by diverting customers to lower cost channels and empowering agents to solve problems quickly.

Maximizing the value of existing customers by capitalizing on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

1.2 Let profitability goals help reveal which strategy to pursue

Profitability goals are tied to the enabling of customer service strategies.

  • If looking to drive cost decreases across the organization, pursue cost efficiency strategies such as customer volume diversion in order to lower cost channels and avoid costly escalations for customer complaints and inquiries.
  • Ongoing Contribution Margin is positive only once customer acquisition costs (CAC) have been paid back. For every customer lost, another customer has to be acquired in order to experience no loss. In this way, customer retention strategies help decrease your overall costs.
  • Once cost reduction and customer retention measures are in place, look to increase overall revenue through cross-selling and up-selling activities with your customers.
The image contains a screenshot of a diagram to demonstrate the relationship between goals and enabling strategies.

Info-Tech Insight

Purely driving efficiency is not the goal. Create a balance that does not compromise customer satisfaction.

Customer Service strategies: Case studies

Efficiency

  • Volume diversion to lower cost channels
  • Agent empowerment

MISS DIG 811 – a utility notification system – sought to make their customer service more efficient by moving to softphones. Using the Cisco Customer Journey Platform, Miss Dig saw a 9% YoY increase in agent productivity and 83% reduction in phone equipment costs. Source: (Cisco, 2018).

Retention

  • Proactive Customer Service
  • Seamless omnichannel strategy

VoiceSage worked with Home Retail Group – a general merchandise retailer – to proactively increase customer outreach, reducing the number of routine customer order and delivery queries received. In four weeks, Home Retail Group increased their 30-40% answer rate from customers to 100%, with 90% of incoming calls answered and 60% of contacts made via SMS. Source: (VoiceSage, 2018)

Cross-Sell/

Up-Sell

  • Cross-Sell and Up-Sell opportunities

A global brand selling language-learning software utilized Callzilla to help improve their call conversion rate of 2%. After six months of agent and supervisor training, this company increased their call conversion rate to 16% and their upsell rate to 40%. Their average order value increased from < $300 to $465. Source: (Callzilla, n.d.)

1.2 Performing an environmental scan can help IT optimize Customer Service support

Though typically executed by Customer Service, IT can gain valuable insights for best supporting infrastructure, applications, and operations from an environmental scan.

An environmental scan seeks to understand your organization’s customers from multiple directions. It considers:

  • Customers’ value-based segmentations.
  • The interaction channels customers prefer to use.
  • Customers’ likes and dislikes.
  • The general sentiment of your customer service quality.
  • What your competitors are doing in this space.
The image contains a screenshot of a diagram to demonstrate how performing an environmental scan can help IT optimize Customer Service support.

Info-Tech Insight

Business processes must directly relate to customer service. Failing to correlate customer experience with business performance outcomes overlooks the enormous cost of negative sentiment.

1.2 The environmental scan results should drive IT’s strategy and resource spend

Insights derived from this scan can help frame IT’s contributions to Customer Service’s future vision.

Why IT should care:

Implications:

Each customer experience, from product/service selection to post-transaction support, can have a significant impact on business performance.

It is not just IT or Customer Service that should care; rather, it should be an organizational responsibility to care about what customers say.

Customers have little tolerance for mediocrity or poor service and simply switch their allegiances to those that can satisfy their expectations.

Do not ignore your competitors; they may be doing something well in Customer Service technology which may serve as your organization’s benchmark.

With maturing mobile and social technologies, customers want to be treated as individuals rather than as a series of disconnected accounts

Do not ignore your customers’ plea for individuality through mobile and social. Assess your customers’ technology channel preferences.

Customer service’s perception of service quality may be drastically different than what is expected by the customers.

Prevent your organization from investing in technology that will have no positive impact on your customer experience.

Some customers may not provide your organization the business value that surpasses your cost to serve them.

Focus on enhancing the technology and customer service experience for your high-value customers.

1.2 Have Customer Service examine feedback across channels for a holistic view

Your method of listening needs to evolve to include active listening on social and mobile channels.

Insights and Implications for Customer Service

Limitations of conventional listening:

  • Solicited customer feedback, such as surveys, do not provide an accurate feedback method since customers only have one channel to express their views.
  • Sentiment, voice, and text analytics within social media channels provide the most accurate and timely intelligence.

How IT Can Help

IT can help facilitate the customer feedback process by:

  • Conducting customer feedback with voice recognition software.
  • Monitoring customer sentiment on mobile and social channels.
  • Utilizing customer data analytic engines on social media management platforms.
  • Referring Customer Service to customer advisory councils and their databases.

1.2 Benchmark IT assets by examining your competitors’ Customer Service capabilities

The availability of the internet means almost complete transparency between your products and services, and those of your competitors.

Insights and implications from Customer Service

How IT can help

Competitor actions are crucial. Watch your competitors to learn how they use Customer Service as a competitive differentiator and a customer acquisition tool.

Do not learn about a competitor’s actions because your customers are already switching to them. Track your competitors before getting a harsh surprise from your customers.

View the customer service experience from the outside in. Assessing from the inside out gives an internal perspective on how good the service is, rather than what customers are experiencing.

Take a data and analytics-driven approach to mine insights on what customers are saying about your competitors. Negative sentiment and specific complaints can be used as reference for IT and Customer Service to:

  • Avoid repeating the competitor’s mistakes.
  • Utilize sentiment as a benchmark for goal setting and improvements.
  • Duplicate successful technology initiatives to realize business value.

Info-Tech Insight

Look to your competitors for comparative models but do not pursue to solely replicate what they currently have. Aim higher and attempt to surpass their capabilities and brand value.

1.2 Collaborate with Customer Service to understand customer value segments

Let segmentation help you gain intelligence on customers’ expectations.

Insights and implications from customer service

  • Segment your customers based on their value relative to the cost to serve. The easiest way to do so is with channel preference categorization.
  • If the cost for retention attempts are higher than the value that those customers provide, there is little business case to pursue retention action.

How IT can help

  • Couple value-based segmentation with channel preference and satisfaction levels of your most-valued customers to effectively target IT investments in channels that maximize service customization and quality.
  • Correlate the customers’ channel and technology usage with their business value to see which IT assets are delivering on their investments.

The image contains a screenshot of a graph to demonstrate the relationship between cost of retention and value.

“If you're developing a Customer Service strategy, it has to start with who your clients are, what [they are] trying to do, and through what channels […] and then your decision around processes have to fall out of that. If IT is trying to lead the conversation, or bring people together to lead the conversation, then marketing and whoever does segmentation has to be at the table as a huge component of this.”

Lisa Woznica, Director of Client Experience, BMO Financial Group

1.2 Be mindful of trends in the consumer and technology landscape

Building a future vision of customer service requires knowing what upcoming technologies can aid the organization.

OMNICHANNEL SUPPORT

Rapidly changing demographics and modes of communication requires an evolution toward omnichannel engagement. 63% of customers now expect to communicate with contact centers over their social media (Ringshall 2020). Agents need customer information synced across each channel they use, meeting the customer’s needs where they are.

INTELLIGENT SELF-SERVICE PORTALS

Customers want their issues resolved as quickly as possible. Machine learning self-service options deliver personalized customer experiences, which also reduce both agent call volume and support costs for the organization. 60% of contact centers are using or plan to use AI in the next 12 months to improve their customer (Canam Research 2020).

LEVERAGING ANALYTICS

The future of customer service is tied up with analytics. This not only entails AI-driven capabilities that fetch the agent relevant information, but it finds skills-based routing and uses biometric data (e.g., speech) for security. It also feeds operations leaders’ need for easy access to real insights about how their customers and agents are doing.

Phase 1 – Case Study

Omnichannel support delivers a financial services firm immediate customer service results.

INDUSTRY: Financial Services

SOURCE: Mattsen Kumar

Situation

Solution

Results

  • A financial services firm’s fast growth began to show cracks in their legacy customer service system.
  • Costs to support the number of customer queries increased.
  • There was a lack of visibility into incoming customer communications and their resolutions.
  • Business opportunities were lost due to a lack of information on customers’ preferences and challenges. Customer satisfaction was decreasing, negatively impacting the firm’s brand.
  • Mattsen Kumar diagnosed that the firm’s major issue was that their customer service processes required a high percentage of manual interventions.
  • Mattsen Kumar developed an omnichannel strategy, including a mix of social channels joined together by a CRM.
  • A key aspect of this omnichannel experience was designing automated processes with minimal manual intervention.
  • 25% reduction in callbacks from customers.
  • $50,000 reduction in operational costs.
  • Two minutes wait time reduction for chat process.
  • 14% decrease in average handle time.
  • Scaled up from 6000 to 50,000 monthly calls that could be handled by the current team.
  • Enabled more than 10,000 customer queries over chats.

1.2 Construct your future state using a business process management approach

Documenting and evaluating your business processes serves as a good starting point for defining the overall Customer Service strategy.

  • Examining key Customer Service business processes can unlock clues around the following:
    • Driving operational effectiveness.
    • Identifying, implementing, and maintaining reusable enterprise systems.
    • Identifying gaps that can be addressed by acquisition of additional systems.
  • Business process modeling facilitates the collaboration between business and IT, recording the sequence of events, tasks performed, by whom they are performed, and the levels of interaction with the various supporting applications.
  • By identifying the events and decision points in the process, and overlaying the people that perform the functions and technologies that support them, organizations are better positioned to identify gaps that need to be bridged.
  • Encourage the analysis by compiling the inventory of Customer Service business processes that are relevant to the organization.

Info-Tech Insight

A process-oriented approach helps organizations see the complete view of the system by linking strategic requirements to business requirements, and business requirements to system requirements.

1.2 Use the APQC Framework to define your Customer Service-related processes

  • APQC’s Process Classification Framework (PCF) is a taxonomy of cross-functional business processes intended to allow the objective comparison of organizational performance within and among organizations.
  • Section 5 of the PCF details various levels of Customer Service business processes, useful for mapping on to your own organization’s current state.
  • The APQC Framework can be accessed through the following link: APQC’s Process Classification Framework.

The APQC Framework serves as a high-level, industry-neutral enterprise model that allows organizations to see activities from a cross-industry process perspective.

The image contains a screenshot example of the APQC Process Classification Framework.
Source: (Ziemba and Eisenbardt 2015)

Info-Tech Caution

The APQC framework does not list all processes within a specific organization, nor are the processes which are listed in the framework present in every organization. It is designed as a framework and global standard to be customized for use in any organization.

1.2 Each APQC process has five levels that represent its logical components

The image contains a screenshot of the APQC five levels. The levels include: category, process group, process, and activity.

The PCF provides L1 through 4 for the Customer Service Framework.

L5 processes are task- and industry-specific and need to be defined by the organization.

Source: (APQC 2020)
This Industry Process Classification Framework was jointly developed by APQC and IBM to facilitate improvement through process management and benchmarking. ©2018 APQC and IBM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

1.2a Begin documenting business processes

4 hours

  1. Using Info-Tech’s Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool, list the Customer Service goals and rank them by importance.
  2. Score the APQC L4 processes by relevance to the defined goals and perceived satisfaction index.
  3. Define the L5 processes for the top scoring L4 process.
  4. Leave Tab 5, Columns G – I for now. These columns will be revisited in activities 1.2b and 2.1a.
The image contains a screenshot of the Customer Service Process Shortlisting Tool.

Input

Output

  • List of Customer Service goals
  • A detailed prioritization of Customer Service business processes to model for future states

Materials

Participants

  • Whiteboard
  • Writing materials
  • Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool
  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director
  • IT and Customer Service Representatives

Download the Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool

1.2 Start designing the future state of key business processes

If Customer Service transformation is called for, start with your future-state vision. Don’t get stuck in current state and the “art of the possible” within its context.

Future-State Analysis

Start by designing your future state business processes (based on the key processes shortlisting exercise). Design these processes as they would exist as your “ideal scenario.” Next, analyze your current state to help better your understanding of:

  • The gaps that exist and must be bridged to achieve the future-state vision.
  • Whether or not any critical functions that support your business were omitted accidentally from the future-state processes.
  • Whether or not any of the supporting applications or architecture can be salvaged and used toward delivery of your future-state vision.

Though it’s a commonly used approach, documenting your current-state business processes first can have several drawbacks:

  • Current-state analysis can impede your ability to see future possibility.
  • Teams will spend a great deal of time and effort on documenting current state and inevitably succumb to “analysis paralysis.”
  • Current state assessment, when done first, limits the development of the future (or target) state, constraining thinking to the limitations of the current environment rather than the requirements of the business strategy.

Current-State Analysis

“If you're fairly immature and looking for a paradigm shift or different approach [because] you recognize you're totally doing it wrong today, then starting with documenting current state doesn't do a lot except make you sad. You don't want to get stuck in [the mindset of] ‘Here's the current state, and here’s the art of the possible.’”

Trevor Timbeck, Executive Coach, Parachute Executive Coaching

1.2 Start modeling future-state processes

Build buy-in and accountability in process owners through workshops and whiteboarding – either in-person or remotely.

Getting consensus on the process definition (who does what, when, where, why, and how) is one of the hardest parts of BPM.

Gathering process owners for a process-defining workshop isn’t easy. Getting them to cooperate can be even harder. To help manage these difficulties during the workshop, make sure to:

  • Keep the scope contained to the processes being defined in order to make best use of everyone’s time, as taking time away from employees is a cost too.
  • Prior to the workshop, gather information about the processes with interviews, questionnaires, and/or system data gathering and analysis.
  • Use the information gathered to have real-life examples of the processes in question so that time isn’t wasted.

Info-Tech Insight

Keep meetings short and on task as tangents are inevitable. Set ground rules at the beginning of any brainstorming or whiteboarding session to ensure that all participants are aligned.

1.2 Use the five W’s to help map out your future-state processes

Define the “who, what, why, where, when, and how” of the process to gain a better understanding of individual activities.

Owner

Who

What

When

Where

Why

How

Record Claim

Customer Service

Customer Service Rep.

Claim

Accident

Claims system

Customer notification

Agent enters claim into the system and notifies claims department

Manage Claim

Claims Department

Claims Clerk

Claim

Agent submitted the claim

Claims system

Agent notification

Clerk enters claim into the claims system

Investigate Claim

Claims Investigation

Adjuster

Claim

Claim notification

Property where claim is being made

Assess damage

Evaluation and expert input

Settle Claim

Claims Department

Claim Approver

Claim and Adjuster’s evaluation

Receipt of Adjuster’s report

Claims system

Evaluation

Approval or denial

Administer Claim

Finance Department

Finance Clerk

Claim amount

Claim approval notification

Finance system

Payment required

Create payment voucher and cut check

Close Claim

Claims Department

Claims Clerk

Claim and all supporting documentation

Payment issued

Claims system

Claim processed

Close the claim in the system

Info-Tech Insight

It’s not just about your internal processes. To achieve higher customer retention and satisfaction, it’s also useful to map the customer service process from the customer perspective to identify customer pain points and disconnects.

1.2 Use existing in-house software as a simplistic entry point to process modeling

A diagramming tool like Visio enables you to plot process participants and actions using dedicated symbols and connectors that indicate causality.

  • Models can use a stick-figure format, a cross-functional workflow format, or BPMN notation.
  • Plot the key activities and decision points in the process using standard flowcharting shapes. Identify the data that belongs to each step in a separate document or as call-outs on the diagram.
  • Document the flow control between steps, i.e., what causes one step to finish and another to start?

The image contains a screenshot of the sample cross-functional diagram using the claims process.

Info-Tech Best Practice

Diagramming tools can force the process designer into a specific layout: linear or cross-functional/swim lane.

  • A linear format is recommended for single function and system processes.
  • A swim lane format is recommended for cross-functional and cross-departmental processes.

1.2 Introduce low investment alternatives for process modeling for modeling disciplines

SaaS and low-cost modeling tools are emerging to help organizations with low to medium BPM maturity visualize their processes.

  • Formal modeling tools allow a designer to model in any view and easily switch to other views to gain new perspectives on the process.
  • Subscription-based, best-of-breed SaaS tools provide scalable and flexible process modeling capabilities.
  • Open source and lower cost tools also exist to help distribute BPM modeling discipline and standards.
  • BPMS suites incorporate advanced modeling tools with process execution engines for end-to-end business process management. Integrate process discovery with modeling, process simulation, and analysis. Deploy, monitor, and measure process models in process automation engines.

The image contains a screenshot of a diagram of the claims process.

Explore SoftwareReviews’ Business Process Management market analysis by clicking here.

1.2b Model future state business processes

4 hours

  1. Model the future state of the most critical business processes.
  2. Use Tab 5, Columns G – H of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool to keep stock of what processes are targeted for modeling, and whether the models have been completed.
The image contains a screenshot of the Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool.

Input

Output

  • Modeled future Customer Service business processes
  • An inventory of modeled future states for critical Customer Service business processes

Materials

Participants

  • Whiteboard
  • Writing materials
  • Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool
  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director

Download the Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool

1.3 Start a preliminary inventory of your requirements

Use the future state business process models as a source for software requirements.

  • Business process modeling deals with business requirements that can be used as the foundation for elicitation of system (functional and non-functional) requirements.
  • Modeling creates an understanding of the various steps and transfers in each business process, as well as the inputs and outputs of the process.
  • The future state models form an understanding of what information is needed and how it flows from one point to another in each process.
  • Understand what technologies are (or can be) leveraged to facilitate the exchange of information and facilitate the process.

For each task or event in the process, ask the following questions:

  • What is the input?
  • What is the output?
  • What are the underlying risks and how can they be mitigated?
  • What conditions should be met to mitigate or eliminate each risk?
  • What are the improvement opportunities?
  • What conditions should be met to enable these opportunities?

Info-Tech Insight

Incorporate future considerations into the requirements. How will the system need to adapt over time to accommodate additional processes, process variations, introduction of additional channels and capabilities, etc. Do not overreach by identifying system capabilities that cannot possibly be met.

1.3 Understand the four different requirements to document

Have a holistic view for capturing the various requirements the organization has for a Customer Service strategy.

Business requirements

High-level requirements that management would typically understand.

User requirements

High-level requirements on how the tool should empower users’ lives.

Non-functional requirements

Criteria that can be used to judge the operation of a contact center. It defines how the system should perform for the organization.

Functional requirements

Outline the technical requirements for the desired contact center.

1.3 Extract requirements from the business process models

To see how, let us examine our earlier example for the Claims Process, extracting requirements from the “Record Claim” task.

The image contains an example of the claims process, and focuses on the record claim task.

1.3a Document your preliminary requirements

4 hours

  1. The Applications Director and Customer Service Head are to identify participants based on the business processes that will be reviewed.
  2. They are to conduct a workshop to gather all requirements that can be taken from the business process models.
  3. Use Tab 4 of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool to document your preliminary requirements.
The image contains a screenshot of the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.
InputOutput
  • Half-day workshop to review the proposed future-state diagrams and distill from them the business, functional, and non-functional requirements
  • Future state business process models from activities 1.2a and 1.2b
  • An inventory of preliminary requirements for modeled future states
MaterialsParticipants
  • Whiteboard
  • Writing materials
  • Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool
  • Results of activities 1.2a and 1.2b
  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director
  • IT and Customer Service Representatives

Download the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool

Phase 2

Evaluate Current State

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

1.1 Structure the Project

1.2 Define Vision for Future State

1.3 Document Preliminary Requirements

2.1 Document Current State Business Processes

2.2 Assess Current State Architecture

2.3 Review and Finalize Requirements for Future State

3.1 Evaluate Architectural and Application Options

3.2 Understand the Marketplace

3.3 Score and Plot Initiatives Along Strategic Roadmap

This phase will guide you through the following activities:

2.1a Model current-state business processes for an inventory to compare against future-state models.

2.1b Compare future and current business states for a preliminary gap analysis.

2.1c Begin compiling an inventory of CS Systems by function for an overview of your current state map.

2.2a Rate your functional and integration quality to assess the performance of your application portfolio.

2.3a Compare states and propose action to bridge current business processes with viable future alternatives.

2.3b Document finalized requirements, ready to enact change.

Participants required for Phase 2:

  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director
  • IT and Customer Service Representatives
  • IT Managers

2.1 Document the current state of your key business processes

Doing so will solidify your understanding of the gaps, help identify any accidental omissions from the future state vision, and provide clues as to what can be salvaged.

  • Analysis of the current state is important in the context of gap analysis. It aids in understanding the discrepancies between your baseline and the future-state vision, and ensuring that these gaps are recorded as part of the overall requirements.
  • By analyzing the current state of key business processes, you may identify critical functions that are in place today that were not taken into consideration during the future-state business process visioning exercise.
  • By overlaying the current state process models with the applications that support them, the current state models will indicate what systems and interfaces can be salvaged.
  • The baseline feeds the business case, allowing the team to establish proposed benefits and improvements from implementing the future-state vision. Seek to understand the following:
    • The volumes of work
    • Major exceptions
    • Number of employees involved
    • Amount of time spent in each area of the process

2.1 Assess the current state to drive the gap analysis

Before you choose any solution, identify what needs to be done to your current state in order to achieve the vision you have defined.

  • By beginning with the future state in mind, you have likely already envisioned some potential solutions.
  • By reviewing your current situation in contrast with your desired future state, you can deliberate what needs to be done to bridge the gap. The differences between the models allow you to define a set of changes that must be enacted in sequence or in parallel. These represent the gaps.
  • The gaps, once identified, translate themselves into additional requirements.

Assessment Example

Future State

Current Situation

Next Actions/ Proposals

Incorporate social channels for responding to customer inquiries.

No social media monitoring or channels for interaction exist at present.

  1. Implement a social media monitoring platform tool and integrate it with the current CSM.
  2. Recruit additional Customer Service representatives to monitor and respond to inquiries via social channels.
  3. Develop report(s) for analyzing volumes of inquiries received through social channels.

Info-Tech Insight

It is important to allot time for the current-state analysis, confine it to the minimum effort required to understand the gaps, and identify any missing pieces from your future-state vision. Make sure the work expended is proportional to the benefit derived from this exercise.

2.1a Model current-state business processes

2 hours

  1. Model the current state of the most critical business processes, using the work done in activities 1.2a and 1.2b to help identify these processes.
  2. Use Tab 5, Column I of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool to keep stock of what models have been completed.
  3. This tool is now complete.
The image contains a screenshot of the Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool.
InputOutput
  • Modeled current-state Customer Service business processes
  • An inventory of modeled current states for critical Customer Service business processes
MaterialsParticipants
  • Whiteboard
  • Writing materials
  • Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool
  • Results of activities 1.2a and 1.2b.
  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director

Download the Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool

2.1b Compare future and current business states

2 hours

  1. Use Tab 9 of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool to record a summary of the future state, current state, and actions proposed in order to bridge the gaps.
    • Fill out the desired future state of the business processes and IT architecture.
    • Fill out the current state of the business processes and IT architecture.
    • Fill out the actions required to mitigate the gaps between the future and current state.
The image contains a screenshot of thr Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.
InputOutput
  • The results of activities 1.2a, 1.2b, and 2.1a.
  • Modeled future- and current-state business processes
  • An overview and analysis of how to reach certain future states from the current state.
  • A preliminary list of next steps through bridging the gap between current and future states.
MaterialsParticipants
  • Whiteboard
  • Writing materials
  • Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool
  • Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director

Download the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool

2.1 Assess whether Customer Service architecture can meet future-state vision

Approach your CS systems holistically to identify opportunities for system architecture optimization.

  • Organizations often do not have a holistic view of their Customer Service systems. These systems are often cobbled together from disparate parts, such as:
    • Point solutions (both SaaS and on-premise).
    • Custom interfaces between applications and databases.
    • Spreadsheets and other manual workarounds.
  • A high degree of interaction between multiple systems can cause distention in the application portfolio and databases, creating room for error and more work for CS and IT staff. Mapping your systems and architectural landscape can help you:
    • Identify the number of manual processes you currently employ.
    • Eliminate redundancies.
    • Allow for consolidation and/or integration.

Consider the following metrics when tracking your CS systems:

Time needed to perform core tasks (i.e., resolving a customer complaint)

Accuracy of basic information (customer history, customer product portfolio)

CSR time spent on manual process/workarounds

Info-Tech Insight

There is a two-step process to document the current state of your Customer Service systems:

  1. Compile an inventory of systems by function
  2. Identify points of integration across systems

2.1c Begin compiling an inventory of CS systems by function

2 hours

  1. Using Tab 2 of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool, request that the CS managers fill in the application inventory template with all the CS systems that they use.
  2. Questions to trigger exercise:
    • Which applications am I using?
    • Which CS function does the application support?
    • How many applications support the same function?
    • What spreadsheets or manual workarounds do I use to fill in system gaps?
  3. Send the filled-in template to IT Managers to validate and fill in missing system information.
InputOutput
  • Applications Directors’ knowledge of the current state
  • IT Managers’ validation of this state
  • A corroborated inventory of the current state for Customer Service systems
MaterialsParticipants
  • Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool
  • Applications Director
  • IT managers

Download the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool

2.1 Use activity 2.1c for an overview of your current state map

The image contains a screenshot of activity 2.1.

Info-Tech Insight

A current-state map of CS systems can offer insight on:

  • Coverage, i.e. whether all functional areas are supported by systems.
  • Redundancies, i.e. functional areas with multiple systems. If a customer’s records are spread across multiple systems, it may be difficult to obtain a single source of truth.

2.2 Assess current state with user interface architecture diagrams

Understand a high-level overview of how your current state integrates together to rate its overall quality.

  • If IT already has an architecture diagram, use this in conjunction with your application inventory for the basis of current state discussions.
  • If your organization does not already have an architecture diagram for review and discussion, consider creating one in its most simplistic form using the following guidelines (see illustrative example on next slide):

Represent each of your systems as a labelled shape with a unique number (this number can be referenced in other artifacts that can provide more detail).

Color coding can also be applied to differentiate these objects, e.g., to indicate an internal system (where development is owned by your organization) vs. an external system (where development is outside of your organization’s control).

2.2 Example: Current state with user interface architecture diagrams

The image contains a screenshot of an example of current state with user interface architecture diagrams.

2.2 Evaluate application functionality and functional coverage

Use this documentation of the current state as an opportunity to spot areas for rationalizing your application portfolio.

If an application is well-received by the organization and is an overall good platform, consider acquiring more modules from the same vendor application.

The image contains a screenshot of a diagram to demonstrate functionality and functional coverage.

If you have more than one application for a function, consider why that is and how you might consolidate into a single application.

Measure the effectiveness of applications under consideration. For example, consider the number of failures when an application attempts a function (by ticket numbers), and overall satisfaction/ease of use.

The above steps will reveal capability overlaps and application pain points and show how the overall portfolio could be made more efficient.

2.2 Determine the degree of integration between systems

Data and system integration are key components of an effective CS system portfolio.

The needed level of integration will depend on three major factors:

Integration between systems helps facilitate reporting. The required reports will vary from organization to organization:

How many other systems benefit from the data of the application?

Large workforces will benefit from more detailed WFM reports for optimizing workforce planning and talent acquisition.

Will automating the integration between systems alleviate a significant amount of manual effort?

Organizations with competitive sales and incentives will want to strategize around talent management and compensation.

What kind of reports will your organization require in order to perform core and business-enabling functions?

Aging workforces or organizations with highly specialized skills can benefit from detailed analysis around succession planning.

Phase 2 – Case Study

Integrating customer relationship information streamlines customer service and increases ROI for the organization.

INDUSTRY: Retail and Wholesale

SOURCE: inContact

Situation

Solution

Results

  • Hall Automotive – a group of 14 multi-franchise auto dealerships located throughout Virginia and North Carolina – had customer information segmented throughout their CRM system at each dealership.
  • Call center agents lacked the technology to synthesize this information, leading customers to receive multiple and unrelated service calls.
  • Hall Automotive wanted to avoid embarrassing information gaps, integrate multiple CRM systems, and help agents focus on customers.
  • Hall Automotive utilized an inContact solution that included Automated Call Distributor, Computer Telephony Integration, and IVR technologies.
  • This created a complete customer-centric system that interfaced with multiple CRM and back-office systems.
  • The inContact solution simplified intelligent call flows, routed contacts to the right agent, and provided comprehensive customer information.
  • Call time decreased from five minutes to one minute and 23 seconds.
  • 350% increase in production.
  • Market response time down from three months to one day.
  • Cost per call cut from 83 cents to 23 cents.
  • Increased agents’ calls-per-hour from 12 to 43.
  • Scalability matched seasonal fluctuations in sales.

2.2a Rate your functional and integration quality

2 hours

  1. Using Tab 5 of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool, evaluate the functionality of your applications.
  2. Then, use Tab 6 of the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool to evaluate the integration of your applications.
The image contains screenshots of the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.
InputOutput
  • Applications Directors’ knowledge of the current state
  • IT Managers’ validation of this state
  • A documented evaluation of the organization’s application portfolio regarding functional and integration quality
MaterialsParticipants
  • Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool
  • Applications Director
  • IT managers

Download the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool

2.3 Revisit and refine the future-state business processes and list of requirements

With a better understanding of the current state, determine whether the future-state models hold up. Ensure that the requirements are updated accordingly to reflect the full set of gaps identified.

  • Future-state versus current-state modeling is an iterative process.
  • By assessing the gaps between target state and current state, you may decide that:
    • The future state model was overly ambitious for what can reasonably be delivered in the near-term.
    • Core functions that exist today were accidentally omitted from the future state models and need to be incorporated.
    • There are systems or processes that your organization would like to salvage, and they must be worked into the future-state model.
  • Once the future state vision is stabilized, ensure that all gaps have been translated into business requirements.
    • If possible, categorize all gaps by functional and non-functional requirements.

2.3a Compare states and propose action

3 hours

  • Revisit Tab 9 of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool to more accurately compare your organization’s current- and future-state business processes.
  • Ensure that gaps in the system architecture have been captured.
The image contains a screenshot of the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.
InputOutput
  • Modeled future- and current-state business processes
  • Refined and prioritized list of requirements
  • An accurate list of action steps for bridging current and future state business processes
MaterialsParticipants
  • Whiteboard
  • Writing materials
  • Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool
  • Applications Director
  • IT managers

Download the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool

2.3 Prioritize and finalize the requirements

Prioritizing requirements will help to itemize initiatives and the timing with which they need to occur.

Requirements are to be prioritized based on relative important and the timing of the respective initiatives.

Prioritize the full set of requirements by assigning a priority to each:

1. High/Critical: A critical requirement; without it, the product is not acceptable to the stakeholders.
2. Medium/Important: A necessary but deferrable requirement that makes the product less usable but still functional.
3. Low/Desirable: A nice feature to have if there are resources, but the product can function well without it.

Requirements prioritization must be completed in collaboration with all key stakeholders (business and IT).

Consider the following criteria when assigning the priority:

  • Business value
  • Business or technical risk
  • Implementation difficulty
  • Likelihood of success
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Relationship to other requirements
  • Urgency
  • Unified stakeholder agreement

Stakeholders must ask themselves:

  • What are the consequences to the business objectives if this requirement is omitted?
  • Is there an existing system or manual process/workaround that could compensate for it?
  • Why can’t this requirement be deferred to the next release?
  • What business risk is being introduced if a particular requirement cannot be implemented right away?

2.3b Document finalized requirements

4 hours

  1. Using Tab 4 of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool, evaluate your applications’ functionality, review, refine, prioritize, and finalize your requirements.
  2. Review the proposed future state diagrams in activity 2.3a and distill from them the business, functional, and non-functional requirements.
  3. The Applications Director and Customer Service Head are to identify participants based on the business processes that will be reviewed. They are to conduct a workshop to gather all the requirements that can be taken from the business process models.
The image contains a screenshot of the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.
InputOutput
  • Modeled future- and current-state business processes
  • Refined and prioritized list of requirements
  • A documented finalized list of requirements to achieve future state business processes
MaterialsParticipants
  • Whiteboard
  • Writing materials
  • Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool
  • IT Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director
  • IT and Customer Service Representatives

Download the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool

Phase 3

Build Roadmap to Future State

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

1.1 Structure the Project

1.2 Define Vision for Future State

1.3 Document Preliminary Requirements

2.1 Document Current State Business Processes

2.2 Assess Current State Architecture

2.3 Review and Finalize Requirements for Future State

3.1 Evaluate Architectural and Application Options

3.2 Understand the Marketplace

3.3 Score and Plot Initiatives Along Strategic Roadmap

This phase will guide you through the following activities:

3.1a Analyze future architectural posture to understand how applications within the organization ought to be arranged.

3.3a Develop a Customer Service IT Systems initiative roadmap to reach your future state.

Participants required for Phase 3:

  • Applications Director
  • CIO
  • Customer Service Director
  • Customer Service Head
  • IT and Customer Service Representatives
  • IT Applications Director

3.1a Analyze future architectural posture

1 hour

Review Tab 8 of the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.

This tab plots each system that supports Customer Service on a 2x2 framework based on its functionality and integration scores. Where these systems plot on each 2x2 provides clues as to whether they should be considered for retention, functional enhancement (upgrade), increased system integration, or replacement.

  • Integrate: The application is functionally rich, so integrate it with other modules by building or enhancing interfaces.
  • Retain: The application satisfies both functionality and integration requirements, so it should be considered for retention.
  • Replace: The application neither offers the functionality sought, nor is it integrated with other modules.
  • Replace/Enhance: The module offers poor functionality but is well integrated with other modules. If enhancing for functionality is easy (e.g., through configuration or custom development), consider enhancement or replace it altogether.
The image contains a screenshot of tab 8 of the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.
InputOutput
  • Review Tab 8 of the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool
  • An overview of how different applications in the organization ought to be assessed
MaterialsParticipants
  • Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool
  • IT Applications Director
  • Customer Service Director
  • IT and Customer Service Representatives

Download the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool

3.1 Interpret 3.1a’s results for next steps

Involving both sales and marketing in these discussions will provide a 360-degree view on what the modifications should accomplish.

If the majority of applications are plotted in the “Integrate” quadrant:

The applications are performing well in terms of functionality but have poor integration. Determine what improvements can be made to enhance integration between the systems where required (e.g. re-working existing interfaces to accommodate additional data elements, automating interfaces, or creating brand new custom interfaces where warranted).

If the applications are spread across “Integrate,” “Retain,” and “Replace/Enhance”:

There is no clear recommended direction in this case. Weigh the effort required to replace/enhance/integrate specific applications critical for supporting processes. If resource usage for piecemeal solutions is too high, consider replacement with suite.

If the majority of applications are plotted in the “Retain” quadrant:

All applications satisfy both functionality and integration requirements. There is no evidence that significant action is required.

If the application placements are split between the “Retain” and “Replace/Enhance” quadrants:

Consider whether or not IT has the capabilities to execute application replacement procedures. If considering replacement, consider the downstream impact on applications that the system in question is currently integrated with. Enhancing an application usually implies upgrading or adding a module to an existing application. Consider the current satisfaction with the application vendor and whether the upgrade or additional module will satisfy your customer service needs.

3.1 Work through architectural considerations to narrow future states

Best-of-breeds vs. suite

Integration and consolidation

Deployment

Does the organization only need a point solution or an entire platform of solutions?

Does the current state enable interoperability between software? Is there room for rationalization?

Should any new software be SaaS-based, on-premises, or a hybrid?

Info-Tech Insight

Decommissioning and replacing entire applications can put well-functioning modules at risk. Make sure to drill down into the granular features to assess if the feature level performance prompts change. The goal is to make the architecture more efficient for Customer Service and easier to manage for IT. If integration has been chosen as a course of action, make sure that the spend on resources and effort is less than that on system replacement. Also make sure that the intended architecture streamlines usability for agents.

3.1 Considerations: Best-of-breeds vs. suite

If requirements extend beyond the capabilities of a best-of-breed solution, a suite of tools may be required.

Best-of-breed

Suite

Benefits

  • Features may be more advanced for specific functional areas and a higher degree of customization may be possible.
  • If a potential delay in real-time customer data transfer is acceptable, best-of-breeds provide a similar level of functionality to suites for a lower price.
  • Best-of-breeds allow value to be realized faster than suites, as they are easier and faster to implement and configure.
  • Rip and replace is easier and vendor updates are relatively quick to market.

Benefits

  • Everyone in the organization works from the same set of customer data.
  • There is a “lowest common denominator” for agent learning as consistent user interfaces lower learning curves and increase efficiency in usage.
  • There is a broader range of functionality using modules.
  • Integration between functional areas will be strong and the organization will be in a better position to enable version upgrades without risking invalidation of an integration point between separate systems.

Challenges

  • Best-of-breeds typically cover less breadth of functionality than suites.
  • There is a lack of uniformity in user experience across best-of-breeds.
  • Data integrity risks are higher.
  • Variable infrastructure may be implemented due to multiple disparate systems, which adds to architecture complexity and increased maintenance.
  • There is potential for redundant functionality across multiple best-of-breeds.

Challenges

  • Suites exhibit significantly higher costs compared to point solutions.
  • Suite module functionality may not have the same depth as point solutions.
  • Due to high configuration availability and larger-scale implementation requirements, the time to deploy is longer than point solutions.

3.1 Considerations: Integration and consolidation

Use Tab 7 of Info-Tech’s Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool to gauge the need for consolidation.

IT benefits

  • Decreased spend on infrastructure, application acquisition, and development.
  • Reduced complexity in vendor management.
  • Less resources and effort spent on internal integration and functional customization.

Customer Service benefits

  • Reduced user confusion and application usage efficiency.
  • Increased operational visibility and ease process mapping.
  • Improved data management and integrity.

Theoretical scenarios and recommendations

The image contains a screenshot of an example of a customer service functional purpose.

Problem:

  • Large Redundancy – multiple applications address the same function, but one application performs better than others.

Recommendation:

  • Consolidate the functions into Application 1 and consider decommissioning Applications 2 to 4.
The image contains a screenshot of an example of a customer service functional purpose.

Problem:

  • Large Redundancy – multiple applications address the same function, but none of them do it well.

Recommendation:

  • None of the applications perform well in functional support. Consider replacing with suite or leveraging the Application 3 vendor for functional module expansion, if feasible.

3.1 Considerations: Deployment

SaaS is typically recommended as it reduces IT support needs. However, customization limitations and higher long-term TCO values continue to be a challenge for SaaS.

On-premises deployment

Hybrid deployment

Public cloud deployment

Benefits

  • Solution and deployment are highly customizable.
  • There are fewer compliance and security risks because customer data is kept on premises.

Challenges

  • There is slower physical deployment.
  • Physical hardware and software are required.
  • There are higher upfront costs.

Benefits

  • Pick-and-mix which aspects to keep on premises and which to outsource.
  • Benefits of scaling and flexibility for outsourced solution.

Challenges

  • Expensive to maintain.
  • Requires in-house skillset for on-premises option.
  • Some control is lost over outsourced customization.

Benefits

  • Physical hardware is not required.
  • There is rapid deployment, vendor managed product updates, and server maintenance.
  • There are lower upfront costs.

Challenges

  • There is higher TCO over time.
  • There are perceived security risks.
  • There are service availability and reliability risks.
  • There is limited customization.

3.1 Considerations: Public cloud deployment

Functionality is only one aspect of a broader range of issues to narrow down the viability of a cloud-based architecture.

Security/Privacy Concerns:

Whether the data is stored on premise or in the cloud, it is never 100% safe. The risk increases with a multi-tenant cloud solution where a single vendor manages the data of multiple clients. If your data is particularly sensitive, heavily scrutinize the security infrastructure of potential vendors or store the data internally if internal security is deemed stronger than that of a vendor.

Location:

If there are individuals that need to access the system database and work in different locations, centralizing the system and its database in the cloud may be an effective approach.

Compatibility:

Assess the compatibility of the cloud solutions with your internal IT systems. Cloud solutions should be well-integrated with internal systems for data flow to ensure efficiency in service operations.

Cost/Budget Constraints:

SaaS allows conversion of up-front CapEx to periodic OpEx. It assists in bolstering a business case as costs in the short-run are much more manageable. On-premise solutions have a much higher upfront TCO than cloud solutions. However, the TCO for the long-term usage of cloud solutions under the licensing model will exceed that of an on-premise solution, especially with a growing business and user base.

Functionality/Customization:

Ensure that the function or feature that you need is available on the cloud solution market and that the feature is robust enough to meet service quality standards. If the available cloud solution does not support the processes that fit your future-state vision and gaps, it has little business value. If high levels of customization are required to meet functionality, the amount of effort and cost in dealing with the cloud vendor may outweigh the benefits.

Maintenance/Downtime:

For most organizations, lapses in cloud-service availability can become disastrous for customer satisfaction and service quality. Organizations should be prepared for potential outages since customers require constant access to customer support.

3.2 Explore the customer service technology marketplace

Your requirements, gap analysis, and assessment of current applications architecture may have prompted the need for a new solutions purchase.

  • Customer service technology has come a long way since PABX in 1960s call centers. Let Info-Tech give you a quick overview of the market and the major systems that revolve around Customer Service.
  • The image contains a screenshot of a timeline of the market and major systems that revolve  around customer service.

Info-Tech Insight

While Customer Relationships Management systems interlock several aspects of the customer journey, best-of-breed software for specific aspects of this journey could provide a better ROI if the organization’s coverage of these aspects are only “good enough” and need boosting.

3.2 The CRM software market will continue to grow at an aggressive rate

  • In recent years, CRM suite solutions have matured significantly in their customer support capabilities. Much of this can be attributed to their acquisitions of smaller best-of-breed Customer Service vendors.
  • Many of the larger CRM solutions (like those offered by Salesforce) have now added social media engagement, knowledge bases, and multi-channel capabilities into their foundational offering.
  • CRM systems are capable of huge sophistication and integration with the core ERP, but they also have heavy license and implementation costs, and therefore may not be for everyone.
  • In some cases, customers are looking to augment upon very specific capabilities that are lacking from their customer service foundation. In these cases, best-of-breed solutions ought to be integrated with a CRM, ERP, or with one another through API integration.
The image contains a screenshot of a graph that demonstrates the CRM global market growth, 2019-2027.

3.2 Utilize SoftwareReviews to focus on which CS area needs enhancing

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Cloud-based customer experience solution that allows organizations to utilize a provider’s software to administer incoming support or inquiries from consumers in a hosted, subscription model.

Customer Service Management (CSM)

Supports an organization's interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data-driven tools designed to help organizations drive sales and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Customer Intelligence Platform

Gather and analyze data from both structured and unstructured sources regarding your customers, including their demographic/firmographic details and activities, to build deeper and more effective customer relationships and improve business outcomes.

Enterprise Social Media Management

Software for monitoring social media activity with the goal of gaining insight into user opinion and optimizing social media campaigns.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Consists of applications designed to automate and manage the customer life cycle. CRM software optimizes customer data management, lead tracking, communication logging, and marketing campaigns.

Virtual Assistants and Chatbots

interactive applications that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to engage in conversation via speech or text. These applications simulate human interaction by employing natural language input and feedback.

3.2 SoftwareReviews’ data accelerates and improves the software selection process

SoftwareReviews collects and analyzes detailed reviews on enterprise software from real users to give you an unprecedented view into the product and vendor before you buy.

With SoftwareReviews:

  • Access premium reports to understand the marketspace of 193 software categories.
  • Compare vendors with SoftwareReviews’ Data Quadrant Reports.
  • Discover which vendors have better customer relations management with SoftwareReviews’ Emotional Footprint Reports.
  • Explore the Product Scorecards of single vendors for a detailed analysis of their software offerings.
The image contains a screenshot of the Software Reviews offerings.

3.2 Speak with category experts to dive deeper into the vendor landscape

Fact-based reviews of business software from IT professionals.

Product and category reports with state-of-the-art data visualization.

Top-tier data quality backed by a rigorous quality assurance process.

User-experience insight that reveals the intangibles of working with a vendor.

CLICK HERE to access SoftwareReviews

Comprehensive software reviews to make better IT decisions.

We collect and analyze the most detailed reviews on enterprise software from real users to give you an unprecedented view into the product and vendor before you buy.

SoftwareReviews is powered by Info-Tech.

Technology coverage is a priority for Info-Tech, and SoftwareReviews provides the most comprehensive unbiased data on today’s technology. The insights of our expert analysts provide unparalleled support to our members at every step of their buying journey.

3.2 Leverage Info-Tech’s Rapid Application Selection Framework

Improve your key software selection metrics for best-of-breed customer service software.

The image contains a screenshot of an example of Info-Tech's Rapid Application Selection Framework.

A simple measurement of the number of days from intake to decision.

Use our Project Satisfaction Tool to measure stakeholder project satisfaction.

Use our Application Portfolio Assessment Tool annually to measure application satisfaction.

Use our Contract Review Service to benchmark and optimize your technology spending.

Learn more about Info-Tech’s The Rapid Application Selection Framework

The Rapid Application Selection Framework (RASF) is best geared toward commodity and mid-tier enterprise applications

Not all software selection projects are created equal – some are very small, some span the entire enterprise. To ensure that IT is using the right framework, understand the cost and complexity profile of the application you’re looking to select. The RASF approach is best for commodity and mid-tier enterprise applications; selecting complex applications is better handled by the methodology described in Implement a Proactive and Consistent Vendor Selection Process.

RASF Methodology

Commodity & Personal Applications

  • Simple, straightforward applications (think OneNote vs. Evernote)
  • Total application spend of up to $10,000; limited risk and complexity
  • Selection done as a single, rigorous, one-day session

Complex Mid-Tier Applications

  • More differentiated, department-wide applications (Marketo vs. Pardot)
  • Total application spend of up to $100,000; medium risk and complexity
  • RASF approach done over the course of an intensive 40-hour engagement

Consulting Engagement

Enterprise Applications

Sophisticated, enterprise-wide applications (Salesforce vs. Dynamics)

Total application spend of over $100,000; high risk and complexity

Info-Tech can assist with tailored, custom engagements

3.3 Translate gathered requirements and gaps into project-based initiatives

Identify initiatives that can address multiple requirements simultaneously.

The Process

  • You now have a list of requirements from assessing business processes and the current Customer Service IT systems architecture.
  • With a viable architecture and application posture, you can now begin scoring and plotting key initiatives along a roadmap.
  • Group similar requirements into categories of need and formulate logical initiatives to fulfill the requirements.
  • Ensure that all requirements are related to business needs, measurable, sufficiently detailed, and prioritized, and identify initiatives that meet the requirements.

Consider this case:

Paul’s organization, a midsize consumer packaged goods retailer, needs to monitor social media for sentiment, use social analytics to gain intelligence, and receive and respond to inquiries made over Twitter.

The initiative:

Implement a social media management platform (SMMP): A SMMP is able to deliver on all of the above requirements. SMMPs are highly capable platforms that have social listening modules and allow costumer service representatives to post to and monitor social media.

3.3 Prioritize your initiatives and plan the order of rollout

Initiatives should not and cannot be tackled all at once. There are three key factors that dictate the prioritization of initiatives.

  1. Value
    • What is the monetary value/perceived business value?
    • Are there regulatory or security related impacts if the initiative is not undertaken?
    • What is the time to market and is it an easily achievable goal?
    • How well does it align with the strategic direction?
  2. Risk
    • How technically complex is it?
    • Does it impact existing business processes?
    • Are there ample resources and right skillsets to support it?
  3. Dependencies
    • What initiatives must be undertaken first?
    • Which subsequent initiatives will it support?

Example scenario using Info-Tech’s Initiative Scoring and Roadmap Tool

An electronics distributor wants to implement social media monitoring and response. Its existing CRM does not have robust channel management functions. The organization plans to replace its CRM in the future, but because of project size and impact and budgetary constraints, the replacement project has been scheduled to occur two years from now.

  • The SMMP solution proposed for implementation has a high perceived value and is low risk.
  • The CRM replacement has higher value, but also carries significantly more risk.
  • Option 1: Complete the CRM replacement first, and overlay the social media monitoring component afterward (as the SMMP must be integrated with the CRM).
  • Option 2: Seize the easily achievable nature of the SMMP initiative. Implement it now and plan to re-work the CRM integration later.
The image contains a screenshot of an example scenario using Info-Tech's Initiative Scoring and Roadmap Tool.

3.3a Develop a Customer Service IT Systems initiative roadmap

1 hour

  • Complete the tool as a team during a one-hour meeting to collaborate and agree on criteria and weighting.
    1. Input initiative information.
    2. Determine value and risk evaluation criteria.
    3. Evaluate each initiative to determine its priority.
    4. Create a roadmap of prioritized initiatives.
The image contains a screenshot of the Customer Service Initiative Scoring and Roadmap Tool.
InputOutput
  • Input the initiative information including the start date, end date, owner, and dependencies
  • Adjust the evaluation criteria, i.e., the value and risk factors
  • A list of initiatives and a roadmap toward the organization’s future state of Customer Service IT Systems
MaterialsParticipants
  • Customer Service Initiative Scoring and Roadmap Tool
  • Applications Director
  • CIO
  • Customer Service Head

Download the Customer Service Initiative Scoring and Roadmap Tool

Document and communicate the strategy

Leverage the artifacts of this blueprint to summarize your findings and communicate the outcomes of the strategy project to the necessary stakeholders.

Document Section

Proposed Content

Leverage the Following Artifacts

Executive Summary

  • Introduction
  • The opportunity
  • The scope
  • The stakeholders
  • Project success measures

Project Charter section:

  • 1.1 Project Overview
  • 1.2 Project Objectives
  • 1.3 Project Benefits
  • 2.0 Scope

Project RACI Chart Tool:

  • Tab 3. Simplified Output
The image contains screenshots from the Project Charter, and the RACI Chart Tool.

Background

  • The project approach
  • Current situation overview
  • Results of the environmental scan

Blueprint slides:

  • Info-Tech’s methodology to develop your IT Strategy for CS Systems
The image contains a screenshot from the blueprint slides.

Future-State Vision

  • Customer service goals
  • Future-state modeling findings

Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool:

  • Tab 2. Customer Service Goals
  • Tab 5. Level 5 Process Inventory

Future State Business Process Models

The image contains screenshots from the Customer Service Business Process Shortlisting Tool.

Current Situation

  • Current-state modeling findings
  • Current-state architecture findings
  • Gap assessment
  • Requirements

Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool:

  • Tab 2. Inventory of Applications
  • Tab 7. Systems Health Heat Map
  • Tab 8. Systems Health Dashboard
  • Tab 9. Future vs. Current State
  • Tab 4. Requirements Collection
The image contains screenshots from the Customer Service Systems Strategy Tool.

Summary of Recommendations

  • Optimization opportunities
  • New capabilities

N/A

IT Strategy Implementation Plan

  • Implementation plan
  • Business case

Customer Service Initiative Scoring and Roadmap Tool:

  • Tab 2. CS Initiative Definition
  • Tab 4. CS Technology Roadmap
The image contains screenshots from the Customer Service Initiative Scoring and Roadmap Tool.

Summary of Accomplishment

Develop an IT Strategy to Support Customer Service

With ecommerce accelerating and customer expectations rising with it, organizations must have an IT strategy to support Customer Service.

The deliverable you have produced from this blueprint provides a solution to this problem: a roadmap to a desired future state for how IT can ground an effective customer service engagement. From omnichannel to self-service, IT will be critical to enabling the tools required to digitally meet customer needs.

Begin implementing your roadmap!

If you would like additional support, have our analysts guide you through other phases as part of an Info-Tech workshop.

Contact your account representative for more information.

workshops@infotech.com

1-888-670-8889

Related Info-Tech Research

Deliver a Customer Service Training Program to Your IT Department

  • One training session is not enough to make a change. Leaders must embed the habits, create a culture of engagement and positivity, provide continual coaching and development, regularly gather customer feedback, and seek ways to improve.

Build a Chatbot Proof of Concept

  • When implemented effectively, chatbots can help save costs, generate new revenue, and ultimately increase customer satisfaction for both external- and internal-facing customers.

The Rapid Application Selection Framework

  • Application selection is a critical activity for IT departments. Implement a repeatable, data-driven approach that accelerates application selection efforts.

Bibliography (1/2)

  • Callzilla. "Software Maker Compares Call Center Companies, Switches to Callzilla After 6 Months of Results." Callzilla. N.d. Accessed: 4 Jul. 2022.
  • Cisco. “Transforming Customer Service.” Cisco. 2018. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.
  • Gottlieb, Giorgina. “The Importance of Data for Superior Customer Experience and Business Success.” Medium. 23 May 2019. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.
  • Grand View Research. “Customer Relationship Management Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Solution, By Deployment, By Enterprise Size, By End Use, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2020 – 2027.” Grand View Research. April 2020. Accessed: 17 Feb. 2021.
  • inContact. “Hall Automotive Accelerates Customer Relations with inContact.” inContact. N.d. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.
  • Kulbyte, Toma. “37 Customer Experience Statistics to Know in 2021.” Super Office. 4 Jan. 2021. Accessed: 5 Feb. 2021.
  • Kuligowski, Kiely. "11 Benefits of CRM Systems." Business News Daily. 29 Jun. 2022. Accessed: 4 Jul. 2022.
  • Mattsen Kumar. “Ominchannel Support Transforms Customer Experience for Leading Fintech Player in India.” Mattsen Kumar. 4 Apr. 2020. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.
  • Microsoft. “State of Global Customer Service Report.” Microsoft. Mar. 2019. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.
  • Ringshall, Ben. “Contact Center Trends 2020: A New Age for the Contact Center.” Fonolo. 20 Oct. 2020. Accessed 2 Nov. 2020.
  • Salesforce. “State of Service.” Salesforce. 4th ed. 2020. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.
  • Sopadjieva, Emma, Utpal M. Dholakia, and Beth Benjamin. “A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works.” Harvard Business Review. 3 Jan. 2017. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.

Bibliography (2/2)

  • Tech Pro Research. “Digital Transformation Research Report 2018: Strategy, Returns on Investment, and Challenges.” Tech Pro Research. 29 Jul. 2018. Accessed: 5 Feb. 2021.
  • TSB. “TSB Bank Self-Serve Banking Increases 9% with Adobe Sign.” TSB. N.d. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.
  • VoiceSage. “VoiceSage Helps Home Retail Group Transform Customer Experience.” VoiceSage. 4 May 2018. Accessed: 8 Feb. 2021.

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst

Get the help you need in this 1-phase advisory process. You'll receive 4 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

  • Call #1 - Use goals to identify viable CS strategies and shortlist business processes for modeling

    Once you have compiled a list of Customer Service goals, we can help you identify how these goals map to potential Customer Service strategies and how they can be used to hone in on the business processes worth modeling.

  • Call #2 - Current state review and requirements prioritization

    Once you have modeled your future and current state processes, and have scored your application portfolio for features and integration, we can help validate if all relevant requirements have been captured and provide guidance on prioritization.

  • Call #3 - Evaluate solution options

    Once you have compiled your requirements and identified system gaps, we can help you decide on approaches for selecting your CS system solutions. For example, we can help you decide whether you should pick a point solution or a comprehensive suite, and how you will approach the SaaS v/s on-premise question.

  • Call #4 - Initiative scoring

    Once you have defined a list of IT initiatives, we can help guide you through defining value and risk criteria by which to score and prioritize these initiatives.

Authors

Agnes Scott

Brian Park

Contributors

Subject Matter Expert

  • Bernard Szederkenyi, VP Customer Management – Koodo Mobile

Clients

  • Russell Schultz, Strategic Advisor – Ontario Public Service
  • Rick Roscoe, 311 Call Center Supervisor – City of Cleveland
  • Ross Patterson, Senior Director, Applications and Solutions Delivery – Cleaver Brooks
  • John Heinzel – Revere Electric Supply Co.

Vendors

  • Ryan Zuk, Analyst Relations – KANA
  • Joshua March, CEO and Founder – Conversocial
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