Sep 25, 2020

How to streamline self-service channels with Gartner

Customer Experience
Janet Brice
3 min
Customer experience
Four-step guide to improving the customer experience and cut costly live contacts by to 40% according to a new free guide by Gartner...

Does Your Digital Customer Service Strategy Deliver? Is the question posed by advisory company Gartner who have created a guide to help service leaders streamline the customer experience.

The four-step guide is free to download and offers practical advice on how to create a self-service dominant function which comes at a lower cost than live contacts. In recent years, service leaders have felt pressure to provide digital service channels to keep pace with competitors. But many spend too long adding or integrating channels which are often too complex. 

The 2019 Gartner Customer Service and Support Leader Poll identified live channels such as phone, live chat and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact, while self-service channels including company-run websites and mobile apps cost about $0.10 per contact.

From 8,000 customer journeys, Gartner found 70% of customers were choosing to use self-service channels. But only 9% were able to resolve issues completely without live interaction.

According to the guide, customers who switch to even one live channel incur a cost that is 80 to 100 times more. Service leaders state nearly 20% to 40% of today’s live volume could be resolved in self-service channels.

The guide highlights how to:

• Deliver a low-effort, high-quality service with less channels

• Create a seamless customer journey

• Make the shift from a live to a self-service dominant function

The key to improving customer experience and reducing live call volume lies not in adding or updating channels, but the shift in service strategy. 

“While there will always be live service, that type of service should be treated like a precious resource and reserved for opportunities that significantly move the dial on outcomes the customers and the company care most about,” says Devin Poole, Senior Director, Advisory.

A self-service dominant strategy requires a thoughtful approach to channel offerings. No longer can channels be “bolted on” after the fact. Instead, service leaders can steer their function by considering four critical imperatives.

Four steps to creating a streamline self-service dominant function:

  1. Prioritise resolution over channel choice

Ensure dedicated leadership is allocated to self-service channels. While service leaders report self-service is a high priority, they also indicate that the majority of their resources are dedicated to live channels. Realigning those resources is a necessary step in advancing the role of self-service. 

  1. Manage self-service like a product not an IT project

Service organisations should manage these channels and capabilities like products with measurable return on investment (ROI) goals. Goals should be tied to volume reduction (utilisation and containment) and the customer experience (resolution rate, customer satisfaction).

  1. Streamline the self-service journey

Self-service channels must be designed to prevent fallout. Streamline the self-service journey to guide the customers. Channels that provide clear and actionable information, confirmation that resolution steps are underway and indications that information is credible foster a sense of confidence. This empowers customers to continue using a self-service channel rather than reaching out to a live rep.

  1. Evolve practices for self-service strategy

Aim to deliver low-effort experiences via live channels. Service leaders should manage live talent as a precious resource. Service representatives should be trained to take control of customer interactions.

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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