• November 18, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Customer Service Leaders Shift Focus Toward Business Growth

Amid all the challenges they will face in 2022, nearly two-thirds of customer service and support leaders identified growing the business as their most critical priority for the year ahead, according to a survey by Gartner. This is a significant shift toward adding value and growing existing clients for a function that has historically been viewed as a cost-center with the sole purpose of retention, the research firm notes

"Business growth as a goal is well-aligned with the idea of value-added customer service that creates more value for the customer beyond simply resolving their issues," said Brad Fager, research director in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice. "Adding value in customer service interactions can lead to new revenue streams while also protecting existing ones. As a result, strategies that focus on enhancing value are prevalent and growing. In fact, 82 percent of organizations either have or plan to implement a value enhancement strategy."

Gartner identified two approaches that organizations pursuing such value enhancement strategies should follow. The first approach is to look for patterns throughout the customer base to find groups that need or would be open to added value. The second approach is mining customer data to flag individual customers in need of more value. 

Other notable trends in this year’s survey results include the need for effective knowledge management systems and a greater focus on self-service adoption. In fact, aupport leaders have largely deprioritized workforce planning in favor of more effective knowledge management systems. This comes as frontline agents encounter heightened demands that have elevated the minimum knowledge requirements for success while at the same time, they can't turn to colleagues for knowledge due to remote work setups, according to Gartner.

Service leaders are confronting this paradox and plan to focus less on operating a remote workforce in favor of more effective knowledge management systems that enable more productive rep workflows.“To foster effective knowledge management practices, customer service and support leaders should prioritize people and process ahead of decisions on a tech solution, especially in the early stages of building knowledge management,” Fager suggests.

Service leaders are also looking to increase adoption and containment in self-service channels. Gartner recommends that service leaders must look beyond simply improving their self-service channels and consider the holistic customer journeys that start on search engines and organization websites.

For example, optimizing the customer site navigation and transitions across channels is a significant, untapped opportunity for customer service. Leaders can design a site navigation experience that guides customers toward self-service solutions while introducing assisted service at strategic points in the customer journey, the firm concludes.

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