Putting customer support in the driving seat

By Matthias Lippert, VP Customer Services, Basware

Cloud delivery for software is fast becoming the norm and that’s certainly the case at Basware. We operate the largest open commerce network in the world and growing our cloud revenue is a strategic priority.

Yet with the shift from an on-premise offering to a cloud-based delivery model comes another trend: customer service takes its spot centre stage. No longer tied into an annual or other set-term contract, exceptional levels of customer support become critical to maintaining and growing pay-as-you-go subscriptions.

It’s a challenge we experienced first-hand at Basware, but it also presented us with the opportunity to re-set and re-think our entire customer experience approach.

A powerful customer service engine

Our mission is to help our customers simplify their operations, yet we realised that we had inadvertently built in unwanted complexity and inflexibility into our own support operation.

We were using multiple legacy systems that were difficult to use and provided no single view of our customer service operation. Our support consultants struggled with prioritisation of tickets, as well as the usability and performance of the numerous, disparate tools.

In 2016, Basware Support failed to achieve its KPI targets, with timely and professional support scoring particularly low in customer surveys. Making marked improvements in our customer satisfaction and resolution time was critical as we moved our offering to the cloud.

Working with ServiceNow, we set out on a transformational customer service journey, creating what we term our ‘customer service engine’ — with speed, usability and performance being our key criteria.

Our expected go-live coincided with the start of the Race of Le Mans, so we created a themed launch campaign internally, which gave us a real sense of purpose. We were building a high performing engine — our own ‘race car’ of sorts. Meeting the deadline had a very positive impact, making us feel part of a real success story.

Moving into top gear for customer success

When I consider the transformation we have made within our customer support operation, it’s like we have shifted from a standard, run-around vehicle to a high specification supercar.

Today, we have an intuitive platform that has integrated all users, data and systems and we have seen tangible, high-performance results across multiple aspects of Basware Support in just a matter of months.

Because the customer portal is so easy to use, the amount of emails received by my team has reduced by 94% — almost completely eliminating manual email processing.

New digital workflows that integrate with our knowledge base have also resulted in an overall 24% reduction in the total volume of cases, as customers actively adopt self-service.

Critically, we’ve seen our new approach deliver our key objectives of speed and performance. Average customer response time has dropped dramatically from four hours to just 55 minutes and we have cut our average resolution time from 40 to 28 hours.

All these results feed into our renewed commitment to serving our customers in the best way possible, which we call the Basware Support Promise. Sharing our support SLAs with our customers is key to this initiative, as we build a transparent, open relationship, and with service desk customer satisfaction scores shooting up by 11% in a matter of months, we have a lot to be proud of.

Unlocking employee productivity

Our customers are certainly benefiting from our new customer service engine, but we’ve also seen significant benefits for our own employees.

For my team of support consultants, daily life at work has become much more productive and rewarding. The digital workflows in our engine take away manual, repetitive service tasks, freeing up consultants’ time to focus on second level support or better manage spikes in demand, for example around new software releases.

Support consultants also have complete visibility of every ticket, giving them the ability to prioritise and make informed decisions on how to effectively manage customer expectations and SLAs.

Small touches like adding consultants’ profile pictures to the service portal have also brought our team and our customers closer together. Their relationship is more transparent and personal, and that is fostering a sense of trust and loyalty.

In fact, we’ve seen a real push from our support team in making our customer service engine happen. As part of our roll-out, we gave our consultants access to the ServiceNow platform two months ahead of the planned schedule since there was such a desire to get involved as soon as possible. We witnessed a real bottom-up, employee-driven movement to make our project happen.

On the road to opportunity

The early success of the new customer service engine has paved the way for further projects, including the introduction of 24/5 customer chat and the integration of time-critical incidents into our support manager dashboard.

The flexibility and agility of the ServiceNow platform is pushing us to look beyond support to other areas of the customer experience, helping us realise our vision of creating customer value beyond expectations.