In today's hyper-competitive economy, competing on product features and cost is no longer enough.Companies must also be customer-obsessed and provide outstanding customer experiences. Genband, a communications software provider for enterprises and developers, understands this and sought to transform its customer experience.
Two years ago, Genband's management team realized its customer support functions were lagging: Its annual Corporate CSAT survey score demonstrated an 11 percent decline and anecdotal feedback from customers was negative. Customers believed they were paying premium dollars for best-in-class technical support, yet were receiving an average experience. Internally, employees noted that the company was slow to respond to new cases and fix software bugs, there were too many handoffs between teams, and case updates were often incomplete.
"Our customers are looking for quick responses and solutions and so it was very important that we were able to meet their expectations," says Sacha Gera, vice president of business strategy and operations.
In 2013, the management team created an Operational Excellence team to lead the customer support improvement strategy. The team also relied on the consulting guidance of a former Cisco technical executive-turned-consultant and a boutique management consulting firm to help it address these issues and enhance productivity.
Genband's first step was to identify the root of the problem. Based on discussions with customers and its own research, Genband found customers expected a fast response to the initial support ticket and a case resolution within the first 48 hours. However, a lack of communication between departments, data silos, and a lack of standardized metrics led to a backlog of support tickets and other delays.
In response, the team implemented performance and quality management systems that focused on cross-functional communication and collaboration between departments. On the back end, the company invested in an Oracle data warehouse to source data from multiple systems. It also implemented Oracle's Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition as a centralized source for data and metrics, making it easier to track the initial response time to calls, time to resolution, R&D responsiveness for bug fixing, and other metrics.
Additionally, managers were tasked with following up with customer complaints to turn the complaint into a positive experience. Engineers were independently evaluated and scored on their case quality each quarter to ensure timely feedback on the nature of their customer updates and communications. The management and executive team also increased travel to meet with customers face to face, paying particular attention to strategic and flagged accounts.
And finally, Genband wanted to start an internal dialogue and encourage sharing best practices within the company. The company created an internal social media network, based on SAP Jam, an enterprise social collaboration tool, to stimulate open, transparent dialogue among team members to foster idea exchanges and quick resolutions to problems.
As a result of these efforts, Genband was able to turn its customer service support around and boost customer satisfaction levels. The GenBand Care Customer Experience Score (a set of weighted customer experience metrics) rose from 64.8/100 (an average score) to 78/100, two points shy of an "exceptional" rating, after 12 months.
The company also saw a 65 percent reduction in initial response time, 41 percent reduction in time to receive a software fix, and its CSAT survey score rose from 8.33/10 to 9.46/10. And 74 percent of customers indicated in a recent survey that Genband's customer support is now better than its competitors.
Genband's experience fixing its customer service is an example of why companies can't afford to be complacent, Gera says. "We can measure all kinds of things," he notes. "But we have to walk in our customers' shoes or else we'll miss the pain points that matter."