From customer service to customer satisfaction

Xavier Martin
August 30, 2023

Emerging technology, including artificial intelligence, is driving the shift from customer service to customer satisfaction.


Between the need to consider new communication habits ― in the midst of the exponential increase in use of electronic media and other social networks ― and the need to maintain the humanness of interactions between people, decision-makers are faced with a challenge unlike any they have encountered. Tackling this dichotomy will mean rethinking how organisations can use technology to satisfy today’s increasingly demanding customers. The good news is emerging technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and new tools and applications are helping organisations move from customer service to customer satisfaction.

To be fair, many companies have already invested in this area, including integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools where possible. Additionally, multi-channel engagement has almost become the norm. Today, while the telephone remains the most used media, new channels including email, social networks, and voice or chat bots, to name a few, are gaining ground. And as far as the latter are concerned, one of the top priorities will be to enable them with a level of ‘intelligence’ to challenge a human advisor who, for the time-being at least, will continue to have a decisive advantage in this field.

As the quest to win and keep customers happy continues, organisations, propelled by recent technological progress, are shifting their focus from merely providing customer service to ensuring customer satisfaction. They are also acutely aware that what technology enables, technology can disrupt, and one misstep could irreparably damage their brand forever.

To help traverse this new territory, we have mapped out five key elements to help organisations turn customer service into a customer satisfaction engine.

1. The 360° customer experience: Today, most interactions take place in context. These exchanges are also an opportunity for the customer to provide information, whether structured (figures, dates) or not (feelings, events). Unfortunately, the latter data, which may not be recorded into a system ― essentially rendering it to the dead letter pile ― will mean the customer will move from incredulous to annoyed as they are asked to recount their saga again and again. A 360°customer experience can change all that. With technology in place to aggregate customer touchpoints, customer-facing employees have a comprehensive, context-based account of the customer experience and can provide the service and attention today’s customers expect.

2. Self-service: There are few people left on the planet who have not experienced the ever-familiar, "type 1 for... type 2 for...”. Customer relationship managers continue to be challenged with keeping agents ― a scarce and expensive resource ― from tasks with little added value, while offloading those low value tasks to Interactive Voice Response (IVR) machines. However, "self-service" is undergoing a revolution led by AI innovations. We are seeing the emergence of a generation of intelligent conversational robots ― voice bots ― capable of reasoning and therefore of doing much more than just the basic tasks. These bots are aided, in particular, by progress being made in voice recognition which, without replacing real dialogue between people, tends to humanise the relationship.

3. Sentiment analysis: Sentiment analysis detects and interprets what lies behind the natural language. We know how important feelings and emotions are to any customer experience, which helps us appreciate the challenge of deploying technologies that capture the sentiments. Today, we have the capability to extract a feeling, beyond the raw information, whether in emails or voice calls and apply it in the relationship.

Sentiment analysis is essential in developing quality customer relations, but it is complex. First, it is necessary to understand the feeling, then to link the information to a theme, a delicate phase since people express themselves differently on the telephone, in an email or on social networks. Next comes the application phase, where the information can provide value to future exchanges.

4. The extended enterprise: The term "extended enterprise" refers to the ability to include the whole company in the customer relationship experience. This implies that the customer satisfaction strategy is shared, understood and accepted by all employees.

The extended enterprise already exists in organisations whose activity is subject to predictable peaks in demand. For example, suppliers of products or services whose volume of orders is linked to the calendar: Black Friday, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, among others. This is what is known as a horizontal extension, mobilising the entire staff on a one-off basis and agreed to in advance. At the same time, however, it is anticipated that the extended enterprise, in vertical mode this time, will also develop, involving all the professions, and no longer on a seasonal basis but continuously. This puts experts alongside their colleagues on the front line, ready to provide assistance and participate in the collective effort. However, to make this a reality the company must provide all staff involved with the necessary collaboration tools and platforms.

5. An omnichannel strategy: While the spectrum of engagement means has remained more or less the same for several years, in most cases the effort to bring coherence between all these channels remains to be seen. The challenge is in processing information independently of its media of origin, to restore it and use it in a "neutral" way in future exchanges, thus erasing the particularities linked to its source.

Burgeoning technology is disrupting the customer service playing field which, even with twenty years of ongoing innovation, was reaching status quo and demanding a new experience. Digital transformation is accelerating across industries, with a new generation of decision-makers at the helm. Today’s organisations are gearing up to respond to the needs and expectations of increasingly knowledgeable and demanding customer base as they transform their customer management centres into customer satisfaction centres.

Discover more about the new era of customer satisfaction management by downloading our Improving the Customer Experience in the Digital Communications Era eBook.

Xavier Martin

Xavier Martin

Vice President, Market Development, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Xavier Martin is Vice President, Market Development at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. In this role, he leads the Solution Marketing and Business Intelligence team for the Communications Business Division. 

Xavier has more than 25 years of management experience in the software solutions industry, including business intelligence and customer service. In 2013, he published “Make It Personal”, a book that explains how organizations can leverage technology and consumer-led transformation to enter a new era of enterprise communications, heralding what it’s nowadays known as Digital Transformation.

Xavier has a Master’s degree in Telecom and Computer Sciences from Supinfo, Paris, France.

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