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March 15, 2017 | By

Breaking the Chains of Legacy Systems in Customer Support [Part One]

Change is never easy.  Even when it’s for the best, it can still be scary and difficult. It always just seems easier and safer to stick with what you’ve been doing.  You know, the old “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality.  But like most things in life, change is necessary.

A recent webinar with Harvard Business Review focused on this exact topic – well sort of.  They were discussing the problem with legacy systems and how they are hindering change and innovation for many companies.  One of the topics of discussion was around how so many of the most successful business models of today are based on the ability to create deep, personal relationships with customers.  I don’t think anyone would refute that statement.  Customers’ expectations are changing based on these new business models — If Apple can provide me this level of service, why not my insurance company?  These changing expectations are leaving some older companies out in the cold.  These companies have long standing value chains and a fixed way of doing business – one that can’t easily be changed.  Also, some companies don’t want to change – their business model has been successful for years and maybe even continues to be. The question is – how long will that last?  Innovation across customer experience and support is growing faster than it may ever have before and companies are being pressured – either by customers or competitive pressures — to keep up.

Let’s look a bit deeper at the problem with legacy systems in this new world of customer support:

  • A Focus on Automation: Most legacy systems were designed to automate the process – not provide the personalized, seamless experience customers are looking for.  These infrastructures are inflexible and cumbersome and don’t easily allow support across channels including web, mobile and apps.  These are the tools today’s customer is looking for.
  • Lack of Purpose-Built Support Solutions: In my experience there are a lot of organizations use solutions for support that weren’t purpose-built to handle customer support – like collaboration tools for example. It’s a quick fix sure, but ad-hoc solutions have their own problems.  At the end of the day, those tools are focused on effective collaboration in the workplace and not built for a customer support team.  Instead companies need to be looking for solutions that can grow with the business, offers specific remote support features that will create an elegant experience that creates long-term customer loyalty.  Building your support strategy on the wrong foundation can be as detrimental as not having one at all.
  • Ignorance is Not Bliss: Most legacy systems do not have the capabilities to collect and harvest data in a meaningful way.  Data is becoming more important than ever in the customer support space.  Knowing what your customers are seeking help for, how they are asking for help (web, phone, apps, self-service) and when (are they a new user who is having trouble onboarding or an existing user who needs to upgrade?) allows support reps to proactively approach a problem with a personalized experience the moment they engage with the customer.  Additionally, the more data that can be collected and analyzed the better support agents will know the end customer and the better they will be at proactively serving them.  This leads to much quicker resolutions and happier customers.

Change is scary and for some companies it can feel near impossible.  Unfortunately, the future of customer support is happening now and those companies that get on board quickly and focus on customer loyalty and retention will be lightyears ahead of the competition.

Please check back for part two of this blog which will dive into how companies can begin breaking up with their legacy systems.


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