The move to self-service and on-demand services is rapidly evolving the enterprise IT landscape. During widespread digital transformation and the rise of automation, it is vital that service providers remain focused on customer experience and service.
Customer service is just one piece of the entire customer experience puzzle, which incorporates each and every touchpoint a customer has with a business. When a customer reaches out for help, they expect to receive superior customer service. However, they also expect to have an excellent experience with the other technical aspects of the business, regardless of whether or not they are seeking out support.
Walker predicted that customer experience would overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the end of 2020. On top of this, according to Qualtrics, companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within three years of investing in improved customer experiences.
The growth of networking technology like software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN) has changed how network service providers deliver customer service and support. The rising levels of automation and self-service are removing the human touch from many communications between service providers and enterprises. However, not all customers are the same, and service providers need to consider customer experience (CX) models that provide the right levels of support for different enterprise needs.
Enterprise demands and expectations are changing, and end users want a seamless app experience every time. To stay competitive in an industry filled with innovation, automation, and transformation, service providers need to refocus their strategies with their customers at the center of everything they do. As an industry, we need to go beyond the technology and ensure customer service is not left behind.
Standing out in a competitive market
In an increasingly competitive market, service providers need to go beyond innovative technologies and find other ways to differentiate and stand out from the crowd.
Keeping up with trends and trying to compete on price is no longer enough, as customers increasingly expect a superior customer experience throughout their journey.
While many customers enjoy the speed and convenience of self-service and automation, other customers prefer to be guided through the entire process with customer service they can trust. Service providers need to overcome this challenge and find the right balance of customer service and automation to stay efficient without losing the human aspect.
Pairing self-service with expert support
According to Futuriom, the global SD-WAN tools and software market will reach a staggering $4.6 billion by 2023. Networking is the future for all kinds of enterprises, and service providers need to make it as simple as possible for them to digitally transform with ease.
To stay competitive, service providers need to focus on the following aspects:
- End-to-end experience – Applications and data are increasingly leaving the premises and migrating from physical to virtual to containers to serverless. Service providers need to simplify this complex ecosystem with connectivity and network control services that offer an enhanced customer experience throughout the entire customer journey.
- Evolving ecosystem – Enterprises want more bandwidth, lower cost, flexible control, and deep visibility of their WAN services, with enhanced customer experience at the core. A comprehensive SD-WAN solution can connect multiple enterprise locations while providing access to the world’s leading cloud service providers.
- Public and private connectivity – It is important to offer both public and private connectivity via a MEF-certified Ethernet service or Dedicated Internet Access. SD-WAN, combined with the right access service, provides dynamic path control, optimization, full visibility, and control to address today’s enterprise WAN needs. They can gain a full end-to-end orchestrated enterprise solution that bundles scalable cloud connectivity, internet, and hybrid SD-WAN connectivity.
- 24/7 service support – Alongside this tech, enterprises need 24/7 service support and a dedicated team of customer experience experts to boost the networking experience.
Service providers can take simple steps to improve customer experience in their offerings, such as sending out customer feedback surveys or putting more comprehensive strategies into place like dedicating an entire team to customer experience excellence. They just need to ensure they are focused on optimizing the entire process for customers end-to-end.
Service providers can even use innovative tech to improve customer experience, such as advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) to deliver personalized experiences via quick and simple communications channels such as chatbots. On top of this automation and self-service, customers still appreciate one-to-one communications with an expert for more complex queries. The right mixture of people and processes is the key to delivering the best possible customer experience.
Creating the experiences of tomorrow
Service providers need to meet enterprise expectations by keeping up with technology trends like SD-WAN and offering automation and self-service. However, the real opportunity for growth and customer loyalty lies in exceeding these expectations with a team of customer experience experts ready to make their journey as seamless as possible.
Businesses today want to deliver application performance and user experience. They need to be able to connect their applications and data with greater efficiency and control.
By providing reliable networking and removing the complexity from interconnecting office locations, data centers, internet exchanges, and clouds with the right mix of customer experience teams, automation and orchestration, service providers can stay ahead of the competition with an end-to-end solution for enterprises.
Considering customer experience in every aspect of the business is key for future growth.
Simon Waller is Regional Director, EMEA & US at Epsilon.