Please hold—the tech revolution that’s changing customer service

Author: Aoife Rogers7th October 2021Illustration by Sabrena Khadija

Good customers are hard to find; keeping them is crucial.

We are working in a much-changed, digital-first economy where it’s all too easy for people to click away if they don’t get what they need. They want their issues solved quickly—preferably on first contact—and they want to feel heard. But too often, customer service teams run up against barriers.

Agents have to work across multiple tools to access experts and information, while managers lack a 360-degree view of the agent experience. The companies that are thriving have reimagined their culture and norms, instituted a clear path to knowledge sharing and are using technology to give a more bespoke, efficient service.

At Slack Frontiers Europe 2021, an immersive event on the future of work, we looked back on past interviews with CX leaders. In December 2020, we spoke to Michelle Yanez-Olivares, head of customer experience at Accent Group Limited, and Sebastian Burzacchi, VP of service operations at Oscar Health. They explained how Slack has become the place where their teams collaborate to deliver swift, effective customer care. We also spoke to Steve Henry, SVP of client services at ModSquad, who told us how Slack Connect helps his company securely collaborate with clients and build relationships that last.

Leveraging knowledge for a better customer experience

Even small increases in customer retention can have massive implications for business growth. Increasing retention rates by just 5% can boost profits by more than 25%. So how are forward-thinking companies ensuring that their customers come back for more?

Oscar Health is a direct-to-consumer health insurance company that aims to make health care easy, accessible and affordable for all. To this end, it has made a conscious decision to become more agile and harness the full power and knowledge of its various teams.

In the past, if one of Oscar Health’s care guides was unable to solve a member’s issue over the phone, they’d have to hang up and start the escalation process without them. That meant much longer resolution times and a less than desirable customer experience.

With escalation pathways embedded directly in Slack, Oscar Health’s care guides can now solve issues as they talk. It has created tiered Slack channels—a single place to share messages, files and tools—that deal with everything from common problems to complex questions, so guides know exactly where to post their queries. And with Workflow Builder, a tool for automating routine processes, Oscar Health has standardised the submission process, so the experts monitoring the channels get the critical information they need right away.

“It has really helped us drive some of our key performance indicators around accuracy and speed, which then hopefully improve engagement and trust,” Burzacchi says.

Accent Group Limited, Australia’s largest footwear retailer, has 550-plus stores across 16 different retail banners and 21 online platforms. Its customer support team is large—and busy. It uses Slack to ensure faster customer resolution times and to maintain a high customer satisfaction score.

With Slack, Accent Group’s support agents have a platform where they can surface the information they need as they chat live with customers. It has added a huge repository of knowledge to its Slack workspace, and a quick search can find not only those files but also previous conversations where similar queries have been answered.

“Whether a rep is in Melbourne or Manila, they don’t have to wait for the right time zone or for someone to wake up to ask a question,” Yanez-Olivares says. “They just jump into the Slack search box and find what they need immediately.”

Slack has set the foundation for us to provide a great customer experience. It’s like home for us now.

Michelle Yanez-OlivaresHead of Customer Experience, Accent Group Limited

Surfacing feedback to drive improvements and anticipate issues

With Slack, Accent Group has reduced its speed of response from five days to 24 hours, but it isn’t resting on its laurels. It uses Slack to surface and address gaps in agents’ knowledge and to find out what is working well, so they can do more of it.

“Slack’s really helped us to drive the rollout of our new virtual service team and sync ideas and feedback,” Yanez-Olivares says. “We can ask, ‘Hey guys, what’s working? What’s not working? You’re engaging with customers all the time, what are they asking for?’”

Yanez-Olivares describes her frontline team as mainly young, digital natives who say that Slack feels like home. They have created a real community where conversation and information can flow, and that’s reflected in Accent Group’s customer satisfaction numbers.

“Before Slack, our customer satisfaction level was at about 58%, and now it’s comfortably sitting above 90%,” Yanez-Olivares says.

Both Accent Group and Oscar Health use their Slack customer feedback channels to inform product development and improve the customer experience. They are also where they uncover issues that may be bubbling just below the surface.

“With Slack, we have gotten super proactive about solving problems before they actually become problems,” Burzacchi says. “We have a team of people that monitors our customer care channels, searching for emerging problems. If they do find something, they can quickly triage it to the right department.”

The Slack data that our care guides produce is like our customers’ voice. It helps us identify themes and improve our service, and it informs our long-term plans for bettering our tools, networks and provider systems.

Sebastian BurzacchiVP of Service Operations, Oscar Health

Cementing customer loyalty with Slack Connect

How do some of the world’s leading brands—such as the NFL and Electronic Arts—keep in touch with their fans online? They get by with a little help from their friends at ModSquad, a customer experience outsourcer.

Each day, ModSquad’s global crew of experts—the Mods—help their customers engage with their audiences online through customer support, content moderation, community management and social media. And to deliver that exceptional on-demand service, Slack Connect is the Mods’ vehicle of choice.

ModSquad shares more than 50 Slack channels with clients, and Mods use Slack Connect to securely:

  • Respond to clients and resolve issues quickly
  • Help teams efficiently manage projects and workloads
  • Strengthen relationships with their clients

When it comes to providing customer support that’s the crème de la crème, ModSquad is Blue Apron’s sous-chef. In the #blue_apron-client_gen channel, ModSquad’s project managers and customer service agents communicate directly with Blue Apron’s internal customer support team to coordinate real-time support operations.

“Our client interactions are very fluid,” Henry says. “We’re constantly communicating about updates, like new product launches or patch updates.”

Whether it’s answering questions or escalating issues, Slack Connect helps ModSquad coordinate operational matters throughout the day, every day. While Mods are on shift, they’re in Slack channels flagging updates or ticket influxes to internal and client teams.

Managing this level of coordination simply isn’t possible in email alone. Because Slack’s Enterprise-grade security standards also extend to Slack Connect, making the decision to work with clients in channels was easy. Unlike email—which leaves users open to the risk of spam and phishing—teams receive messages and files only from verified members in Slack channels.

“Since many of our clients were already using Slack and it passed their security requirements, it was very easy to start using Slack Connect and trust that our data was also protected,” Henry says.

Using best-in-class tools and ensuring client interactions meet our security protocols are critical parts of our service delivery. Slack helps us on both of those fronts.

Steve HenrySVP of Client Services, ModSquad

Customer service has always been a key differentiator for businesses; in the digital age, it’s more important than ever. With Slack, companies can give their customers the quick, comprehensive resolutions they need and make sure that their feedback resonates throughout the entire business.

We are moving past traditional orthodoxies in work, but also in life, and we have to meet customers where they are. By jettisoning entrenched practises in favour of more flexible, efficient ones, we can create enduring customer relationships that last far beyond the initial sale.

Slack has launched the Future Forum, a consortium to help companies create a people-centric and digital-first future of work. Competitiveness has shifted from scale to agility: the ability to create shared purpose, align teams and enable them to react rapidly to opportunities and challenges. Find out more about how you can help your company to reimagine culture and norms and leverage technology to create a better way to work.

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