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Cognitive Customer Service: A Blueprint for Business Success

Cognitive Customer Service: A Blueprint for Business Success
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by Sanjeev Kapoor 17 Sep 2021

Following the COVID19 pandemic outbreak, many companies have seen rapid growth in the volume of their online sales and in the number of customer interactions. To address this growth, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) had to make significant investments in IT infrastructure and technology. These investments helped to transform several physical processes and interactions into digital ones. However, they have also unveiled the potential of digitization in a wide range of marketing and sales functions, including customer support. Customer service is one of the areas that have been radically transformed during the past months, as companies had to cope with unprecedented numbers of customer interactions across many different digital touchpoints such as websites and social media channels. Nowadays, leaders in online sales in areas like retail and advertising have no other option than to offer exceptional customer service and support through digital channels. In this direction, they must strategically consider investing in advanced digital technologies for customer service that will yield a positive ROI (Return on Investment).


Customer Service as Business Growth Catalyst

There are many different ROI-generating factors in providing exceptional and efficient customer service, including:

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  • Increasing customer satisfaction through personalization: Online interactions can become highly personalized. As businesses collect data from the customers’ interactions, they can leverage their habits and online behavior to understand their preferences and tailor customer service interactions to them. Personalization results in increased customer satisfaction, improved loyalty indexes, and reduced churn. The latter factors improve business competitiveness and drive revenue growth.
  • Cost-cutting through automation: Businesses need longer develop and maintain very large pools of sales agents and customer representatives. Rather it is possible to deploy and use automation technology to help with day-to-day interactions and use human agents only when necessary. This reduces operational costs and provides increased scalability, flexibility, and resilience.
  • Enhanced customer experiences: From ergonomic visualization of products to intelligent recommendations and anticipation of the users’ future purchases, modern customer service attempts to deliver an enhanced customer experience. The latter serve as a compelling value proposition that can set your company apart from its competitors.

The delivery of the above-listed features comes however with new challenges for companies and their CIOs. One of these challenges stems from the need to manage a hybrid cohort of customer service resources, including a remote workforce and various technology systems. Another challenge relates to the need for setting and managing new service objectives that account for metrics like customer personalization and experience. This asks for novel approaches to IT service management beyond metrics for conventional call centers and helpdesks.


Technology Enablers

Cutting edge technologies is CIOs best ally in their attempt to deploy and leverage novel customer service infrastructures. Within a sea of different technologies, CIOs attention must be drawn to:

  • Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics: Machine Learning, Deep Learning and other forms of Artificial Intelligence is what companies need to deploy to analyze, predict and anticipate customers’ behaviors. Such analytics provide a strong foundation for enhancing the user experience. Emphasis must be put on predictive analytics that provide insights about future trends of customer behavior and enables companies to proactively prepare for them.
  • Chatbots: Chatbots are a powerful automation tool for customer service. Along with automation, they give a significant boost to the capacity of the customer service infrastructure, through scalability in the handling of large numbers of customer requests. Chatbots are gradually expanding to applications in different domains, leveraging on the capabilities of state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology.
  • Visualization: To improve the customer experience in online interactions, companies can nowadays employ advanced ergonomic visualization technologies, such as augmented analytics and extended reality. Such visualizations are a key for increasing customer experience and satisfaction.

The deployment of the above-listed technologies goes hand-in-hand with the ever-important revisions in customer service processes, as well as the investments in complementary assets like training of customer service agents. In this direction, CIOs must also consider the need for reengineering and improving customer service processes. This must be done as part of a wider framework that revises core service objectives in directions that account for customer experience and feedback. Furthermore, collaboration with other departments and business functions remains a critical success factor, as customer service comes to support the outputs of sales, marketing, accounting, and other activities within an organization. Finally, CIOs must map these activities to a Return on Investment (ROI) framework in order to assess and quantify the impact of customer service innovation on the bottom lines of their companies.


In the years to come, customer service will be a powerful tool for business growth. IT managers and CIOs must therefore plan the modernization and scaling of their legacy customer service infrastructures. To this end, they should also consider opportunities stemming from the rapid acceleration of technological advances. In this way, they will make customer service one of the best IT-based assets they ever had.

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