Automation, Innovation and CX: Keeping Customer Service Alive in a Transforming Networking Market

By Simon Waller, Regional Director, EMEA & US at Epsilon.

The enterprise IT industry is transforming at an unprecedented rate. Yet, in the constant race to innovate and provide increasingly enhanced features to attract new revenues, many service providers have lost sight of the need to provide outstanding customer service.

Customer service is just one part of the entire customer experience journey, which encompasses each and every touchpoint a customer has with a business. When a customer reaches out for support, they expect to receive excellent customer service. However, they also expect a superior experience with other technical aspects of the business, regardless of whether or not they are reaching out for help.

According to a Forbes Insights and Arm Treasure Data survey, 74% of consumers are at least somewhat likely to buy based on experience alone. Customer experience (CX), driven by growing enterprise demands, expectations and end user app experiences, can be the differentiator in an increasingly competitive market.

Network service providers must innovate in customer experience to match the automation and transformation of the industry, while keeping customers at the heart of their strategies. By refocusing business practices back onto customer experience, service providers are more likely to become the first choice for enterprises.

A Strategy Beyond Innovation

Automated technologies and disruptive innovations alone aren’t enough to creating a fulfilling, 360° experience for customers. Service providers must go beyond this and implement core customer experience initiatives rooted in communication.

In a crowded market, competitive pricing and new technologies can easily be matched, so it takes more to differentiate yourself as a business.

Automation in tech like SD-WAN doesn’t replace customer service, and enterprises must use a flexible approach to adapt to customer’s preferred level of communication. Whilst some customers prefer the speed and convenience of self-service and automation, others want a customer service model they can trust that will guide them through the entire process. Enterprises must strike a balance between these two if they are to stand out in the market and not get left behind.

Balancing Expertise and Automation

Networking technologies are critical across a vast variety of industries, and the figures reflect this. According to Statista, by 2026 SD-WAN infrastructure revenues will reach $19 billion globally, with a CAGR of 38.5% from 2017 to 2026.

The days of on-premise applications and data are scaling down as virtual methods continue to dominate. The networking ecosystem is becoming increasingly complex, and service providers need to balance this with a suite of connectivity and network control services that can offer a simple and seamless customer experience end-to-end.

SD-WAN solutions offered in parallel to access services such as an MEF-certified Ethernet service or Dedicated Internet Access gives customers full visibility and control of their networking. They can gain a full end-to-end orchestrated enterprise solution that bundles scalable cloud connectivity, internet and hybrid SD-WAN connectivity.

Enterprises require a 360° service, with more bandwidth, lower costs, flexible control and deep visibility of their WAN services. A comprehensive SD-WAN solution can connect multiple enterprise locations while providing access to the world’s leading cloud service providers. An enhanced networking experience can then be supported by 24/7/360 service support offered by a team of customer experience experts.

There is also an opportunity for service providers to take customer experience to the next level with tech such as advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide personalised customer service. Chatbots, which offer simple communications quickly and efficiently, in operation alongside a team of experts answering customer queries 24x7, provides the right mixture of people and processes in today’s highly digitised market. By striking this balance, service providers can become the go-to for customers still wanting that ‘human touch.’

While proactively updating networking offerings to match the market’s rapid innovation, service providers must not forget the steps they can take to improve customer experience in the process. These can range from sending out customer feedback surveys, to more comprehensive strategies like dedicating an entire team to customer experience excellence. End-to-end customer experience must mean every point on the customer journey from the initial customer attraction and engagement strategies, right through to retaining customers with communications after sale if customer experience is to truly be enhanced.

Adapting Customer Experience for the Future

The complexities generated by interconnecting office locations, data centres, internet exchanges and clouds can be removed through reliable networking solutions and customer experience teams.

Customers can engage with the new technologies providing automation and self-service like SD-WAN, as well as having support every step of the way by customer experience experts across touchpoints. Automation and orchestration allow service providers to deliver exceptional application performance and user experience, while customer service teams ensure each and every customer feels supported throughout their journey.

The ‘customers at the heart of everything’ approach will be what puts service providers above the rest as the momentum behind digital transformation continues to surge.


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