Several customer experience leaders discussed what it takes to utilize self-service to build long-lasting customer partnerships in a panel discussion at the 2016 Customer Experience Leadership Forum: Fall Event in New York on Nov. 2. The discussion, “Leveraging Self-Service to Connect with the Customer,” featured insights from:
Head of Operations and Customer Service
Vice President Customer Success
Thomas San Filippo
Vice President Customer Service
Vice President Digital/Tech Products
The panelists explored numerous CX topics during the discussion, including:
1. What It Means to Leverage Self-Service
Self-service options provide immense value for companies and consumers alike.
With self-service, customers can find information about a company, its products and its services and resolve problems on their own. Meanwhile, self-service enables a business to empower its customers with the skills and know-how needed to minimize problems and may help a company save both time and resources over an extended period of time.
“You need to know your customers. Who are your customers and what are they looking to get?”
To deliver effective self-service, a company must understand its customers. By doing so, a business will be able to provide its customers with self-service options that fulfill their needs consistently.
“You need to know your customers,” Arrindell said. “Who are your customers and what are they looking to get?”
2. The Importance of Intelligent Customer Service
Mobile and social platforms are making it easier than ever for customers to connect with a business and one another from any location, at any time. As such, intelligent customer service is needed that empowers consumers to identify and address problems using these platforms.
Ultimately, how a company builds a self-service plan may have a long-term impact on its CX levels.
If a business devotes the necessary time and resources to build its self-service strategy in conjunction with its CX plan, a company may be better equipped to provide its customers with engaging, easy-to-understand self-service options and positive experiences at the same time.
“A self-service strategy needs to be part of your overall customer experience strategy,” MacIntosh said. “What is the experience that you want to create for your customers? … We all have different businesses, and what that experience is may vary based on what our business does.”
3. The Benefits of Self-Service for Companies
Although self-service may help a company lower its operating costs, improving CX should serve as the key reason for providing self-service options to customers.
“The [self-service] strategy should start with what problem you’re trying to solve, and the problem shouldn’t be that you’re trying to cut costs,” Stromer stated. “You have to look at [self-service] from the eyes of the customers and the eyes of what problem you’re trying to solve.”
Over time, businesses must collect customer feedback about self-service options as well. With comprehensive data sets at their disposal, companies can find out their strengths and weaknesses relative to self-service and work to transform these weaknesses into strengths.
4. Understanding the Customer Perspective
Implementing an effective self-service strategy requires a business to learn about its customers, understand their wants and needs and develop self-service options that satisfy customer demands.
“The [self-service] strategy should start with what problem you’re trying to solve, and the problem shouldn’t be that you’re trying to cut costs.”
If a company focuses on the relevance and intent of its self-service options, it may be able to implement innovative self-service solutions that drive engagement and empower customers simultaneously.
“We try to get the first thing that we believe –and sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don’t – is why the customer is trying to interact with us,” San Filippo noted. “Then it seems more personal and people are more willing to go down that path with you. And ultimately, they’re more satisfied.”
5. The Importance of Personalization for Customers and Businesses
Data is readily available to businesses around the world, and self-service requires businesses to provide customers with personalized experiences.
For example, a customer that accesses a company’s website and engages with a business online should be able to receive pertinent assistance based on his or her online actions.
Today’s businesses can track customer behaviors and trends and use this information to understand why customers may choose one brand over another, how customers feel about a business’ products and service and more. Thus, if companies take a proactive, data-centric approach to self-service, they may be able to discover unique ways to provide personalized support to customers day after day.
“We know where you are, and how do we move it forward in the conversation,” San Filippo said. “If I know you were just on the website … we’ll start the conversation there.”
Steven Gargano, with over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, oversees operations and customer support for Artivest – a financial technology platform that elevates the investing experience for investors, advisors, and funds. Previously he served as senior managing director and head of product development and customer support at U.S. Bancorp Fund Services within the Alternative Investment Solutions division. Prior to joining U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, Mr. Gargano was the managing director and head of the planning, strategy, and implementation group at Mariner Investment Group. Before joining Mariner, he held positions in Deloitte & Touche’s investment management consulting group, Gabelli Asset Management as product controller for alternative investments, and started his career at Arthur Andersen as an auditor in the financial service industry asset management and capital markets group specializing in brokerage and hedge funds.
Mr. Gargano graduated from Harvard Business School and graduated with honors from Cornell University in Applied Economics, Management, and Accounting. He serves as a District Director on Cornell University’s Business School board, and Cornell University’s Advisory Council. He is a Certified Public Accountant, and a participating member of the NYSSCPAs.
Charles Arrindell brings over 9 years of experience in service operations in the Human Capital Management industry. His experience includes everything from startup operations to helping mature organizations transform the way they do business.
Charles graduated from Bryant University with degrees in Business Management and International Studies and is a certified Payroll (FPC) and Senior Certified HR Professional (SHRM-SCP).
Jennifer MacIntosh has over 20 years experience working with high-tech and financial services companies helping them to establish, lead, and grow their Customer Experience and Knowledge Management practices.
As VP of Customer Success, Jennifer is an advocate for the customer who leads customer engagement, adoption and value realization of the Coveo solution. She is passionate about helping companies leverage self-service and reuse knowledge to improve the customer experience while managing their organizational costs.
Prior to joining Coveo, Jennifer was Founder and Principal of Okas Consulting, a global consulting practice and former Coveo partner. Jennifer has also held executive roles as a change agent who significantly improved the customer experience at Yahoo, Quest Software (Dell) and Cognos (IBM).
Jennifer has deep knowledge and expertise in Analytics, Customer Experience, Support, Self-Service, and Knowledge Management. She is a certified KCS Practitioner, Trainer and active industry contributor.
Jennifer resides in Ottawa with her family and in her spare time enjoys painting abstract art.
Thomas is a customer focused business leader responsible for delivering best in class customer experience with over 11 years driving customer transformations.
Currently he is Vice President of Customer Service for Dow Jones where he leads a global team in Princeton, Barcelona and Hong Kong providing support to Dow Jones’ B2B and B2C brands including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Factiva. In addition to the service agents, the team includes, project delivery, training, QA, reporting and contact center business infrastructure.
Thomas is passionate about customer experience and is responsible for being a key part of transforming the Dow Jones business to be a customer-centric organization, and being a champion for it’s customers internally. He and team have worked over the past 2 years in driving the CSAT scores up 90% satisfaction rates and the NPS scores to 60!
Prior to joining Dow Jones, he worked at various media companies such as CBS, Viacom, Simon and Schuster and Times Mirror.