Self Service Ecosystem, Customer Experience

"Shift left” and Get Right

In today’s rapidly evolving environment, customers are at the center of the business ecosystem. Customers, especially millennials, are tech savvy and their expectations are at an all-time high. They demand ease, speed, and consistency in all their interactions. They seek instant gratification. So, when customers look for support related to a product they use, they don’t necessarily look to queue up to talk to customer support representatives. Often, they look for quick self-help options. They are channel agnostic and often prefer all necessary information made available to them digitally. And if their providers are unable to provide them with this omni-channel customer experience, they have limited tolerance and often prefer to switch to a competitor.

To overcome typical customer support and channel management issues, organizations have started to embrace “Shift left” principle that moves the issue resolution as close as possible to the front-line and the customer, at the lowest cost level.

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Shift Left accelerates case resolutions and requests by enlightening the customer and agents with low cost, self-help options that help them solve cases themselves and become brand champs. This setup cuts down calls to support saving revenue and turnaround time. Shift Left also allows agents to be critical and on top of their jobs by utilizing the latest Knowledge Bases, AI and Smart Support. The revenue gained can be pumped in providing premium technical support which further augments the support mechanism by taking the customer through guided points of resolution. The main takeaway from such an implementation is that customers are ably served, their challenges are met with utmost confidence. Furthermore, it augments engineer’s scope enabling them to support more calls within the same time.

Shift left relates to IT Services Management (ITSM), and as a discipline minimizes business and productivity impact on the customer. Many enterprises consider this principle in terms of Service Modeling, for it offers various desirable benefits, for both short and long-term gains. Shift left speeds up resolution time for users, thereby improving the customer experience manifold.

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A leading SaaS solution provider firm (for IT Service Desks, Facilities, HR, etc.), with more than 40 support employees handling over 5,000 calls every month, had been grappling with efficient monitoring of all the incoming calls. On adopting the “Shift left” model, the company:

  • Resolved issues quickly and efficiently;
  • Ended up making services smarter and more scalable;
  • Included everyone in the process; and
  • Made information more readily available to the end users.

The Shift left strategy is critical in showing a commitment to superior-grade customer service and experience while freeing up costlier project resources so that they can focus on executing more mission-critical projects in a timely manner.

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Key Elements for Implementing the Shift left Principle

(a) Knowledge Management: Implementing an effective Knowledge Management process calls for a shift in mindset, which must slowly get embedded in the DNA of the organization’s work culture. Knowledge (information, expertise, mobile and knowledge-based articles, FAQs and practical solutions) derived as a by-product of problem-solving must be documented by service engineers, daily. This would provide a framework for creating a repository of best practices of customer service in a knowledge-intensive environment.

KMS (Knowledge Management System) is the core of the any Shift-Left approach. The repeated updating and content refresh keeps agents ticking, helping them close more cases than before. It augments engineer’s productivity making them more focused to deliver when it’s necessary. It also does away with expensive training costs and alignment programs.

(b) Automation: It’s indeed the most tangible way of reducing cost and boosting the performance. Automate the mundane tasks to improve service processes. With automation, you’d witness a significant drop in fault percentage, a dramatic increase in process efficiency and lower operational costs.

Automation accelerates process, tightens workflows and reduces the chances of human intervention and errors. Applied within a shift left system, it removes sluggishness from the system, makes workflows sync and “in-line” with other sub systems bringing in long standing efficiencies

(c) Self-service: This adds value to the customer, and can be the best delivery channel. It most often results in higher user satisfaction and more measurable business results. Finding the right metrics to measure self-service performance is however too significant to demonstrate any reduction in service low costs.

Imbibing Self-service for Self Help includes access to portals like FAQs, Wiki’s, online references and makes use of all options that are not cost bound. This helps customers understand their challenge and solution at their own pace, making them brand evangelists over time and deflects calls to the center. It’s a win-win for the enterprise as they don’t incur costs for this support function, yet gain customers.

Delivering excellent customer experiences has never been more significant. With the advent of new channels, devices, and technologies, customers expect a broad range of support alternatives and superior levels of customer service, round the clock at reasonable prices.

Organizations are looking for fresh, innovative strategies to generate higher revenues from their current customer base to fuel growth. Shift left is that smart strategy that can help this sector formulate and execute a unique customer experience design across all vital touch points to establish their unique brand proposition.

 

Conclusion

Service and support organizations that strive to embrace the “Shift-left” principle for providing an improved customer experience often succeed in building more collaborative relationships across IT and the business.

“Shift left” means much more than just self-service or automation. It’s about the better orchestration of customer service requests and achieving better business results. This discipline also ensures that the correct channels for communication are used. It’s all about empowering the customer and optimizing, modifying and simplifying the existing processes.

Shift left focuses on managing the workarounds of the first and second line of engineers. It helps in keeping stakeholders, critical services and dependent assets up-to-date with the latest and detailed information. The sea of changes driven by “Shift left” can be seen in the service catalog. The results are end-user empowerment and more productive IT functions.

Shift left, as a concept, is lean and that dramatically reduces wait time. It results in improved responsiveness to business needs and hence, it improves employee experience and customer experience, alike.

Ashish Mohanty

Senior Vice President Consumer Technology & Head International Operations CSS Corp

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