Customer Experience

Sr. Director of Product Strategy at ServiceNow Talks about the Long Now of Customer Service

Nitin Badjatia, Senior Director of Product Strategy at ServiceNow, discussed the function of organizational layers and the importance of understanding the long now in creating customer loyalty.

At the outset of his thought leadership presentation at the 2019 Customer Experience Leadership Forum: Beyond Satisfaction, Building Loyalty, held on April 9 in Atlanta, Badjatia said he’d been thinking a lot about loyalty lately. “Customer service is much more than a department or an activity. It’s an end-to-end process that runs throughout the organization, and it’s necessary to connect all the dots to make it happen,” he said.

“In the late 1990s, Stewart Brand wrote a book called The Clock of the Long Now, which has influenced many great thinkers. One of the things he mentions is that we need to understand how the pace of various aspects of our civilization and organizations operate at various speeds with varying degrees of control. Fashion, for example, changes quickly, but the next layer down—commerce—understands that change. In this way, each so-called ‘pace layer’ of our civilization—Nature, culture, governance, infrastructure, commerce, and fashion—understands the layer above it,” explained Badjatia.

“Why does this matter in a digital era? Well, by 2022, 60% of the global GDP will be digitized. This is a staggering number. Digitized means always on and always connected, which means we always have the power to know and to act—and customers expect us to act. We also have a massive amount of data. The pace of change that’s coming at us is at a scale we may not be ready to adopt,” he observed.

“Increasingly, we’re not owning things. We buy outcomes. As a result, subscription services are growing at five times the rate of the S&P 500. Digital switching costs are typically very low, so, for this reason, loyalty is more important than ever. Loyalty is based on delivered outcomes over time. In digital services, loyalty requires long-now thinking,” said Badjatia.

“In the pace layering of organizations—value proposition, operations, production, development, customer service, and channels—the channel is ever-changing. If you can connect all these together, you’re in a position to have a product or service that can drive loyalty,” he stated.

“Work doesn’t flow naturally and efficiently between organization layers. Work mostly routes through emails, chats, messages, and spreadsheets. This is a challenge when you’re trying to drive loyalty for your customers, because once it’s out of the system, it’s hard to track. The layers of organizations are disconnected and work at different rhythms.”

Badjatia pointed out that, in this world, customer engagement isn’t enough. “Being able to engage where the customer wants you to engage is what’s important. Beyond that, service operations is the missing piece. It ties everything together and works across all the layers. In my organization, we’re designing for this longer-now thinking that connects all the dots. To do that, we apply a robust workflow engine,” he said.

“I often hear, ‘Everyone talks about AI, but where do you actually apply it?’ We feel it’s particularly appropriate to apply machine learning by embedding it at inflection points between layers of the organization. Workloads are increasing, and humans are often the bottlenecks, so intelligent automation is the way forward,” said Badjatia.

“Workflow starts at the edge—making it easy for customers to engage. We have to empower customer service agents to understand what’s coming in at scale, digest that, and route that work. CRM—customer records management—is an activity log against a contact record. Work doesn’t get done there, and problems aren’t solved there. The work has to be routed at scale. The goal is to fix the root cause of the problem once and for all.”

Brand noted in his book that fast gets all the attention—“We spend so much time talking about omnichannel, chatbots, email, and conversational messaging,” said Badjatia—but slow has all the power. “The layer below makes the decisions that drive success from a long-term loyalty perspective.”

Badjatia ended by noting that serving customers is the core value proposition—the long now of your organization. “How many of you are thinking about the long now, and how are you approaching it?”

Visit Argyle Executive Forum's 2019 Customer Experience Leadership Deep Dive: Artificial intelligence and the new CX in New York, NY on Sep 01, 2019

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