Leveraging Analytics for Service Excellence: Award-winning Innovation
Why You Should Use Science to Stay Close to Your Customers
Using analytics and instrumentation to track user behavior and respond to their needs isn’t just for savvy eCommerce operations. In fact, analytics can help you maximize user experience with all your software, whether it’s an external-facing website or an internal-facing application like a CRM or sales tool.
Dell Technologies’ Online Support and Dell Digital Analytics teams recently proved the value of that strategy firsthand by using analytics as a key tool in consolidating two customer support websites into one.
Not only has this approach paid off with improved satisfaction on our support portal but last month we won a prestigious STAR Award from the Technology Service Industry Association (TSIA) for Innovation in Leveraging Analytics for Service Excellence.
Central to our project’s success was the fact that we embedded an analytics framework into each step of our software development lifecycle—from design to development to launch to maintenance.
What we have found is that instrumenting every application and applying analytics is helping us listen to users like never before. It is letting us add science to the art of understanding and responding to customer behavior. And it is part of the growing role IT and analytics are playing in our services business to help us keep pace with the evolving needs of our customers.
Fixing a Customer Frustration
To see how analytics made a difference in designing our new support portal, consider one small improvement we made to our search feature as a result of tracking customer behavior.
As we were looking at how and what customers were searching on our support portal, we found that customers were frustrated. Faced with two distinct search box options—one calling for users to describe their issue (such as “PC running slowly”) and a second seeking a product serial number, some users were getting the two mixed up.
Since a serial number entered in the box intended for text search or a text search entered in the serial number box returned nonsensical results, the data showed customers were abandoning their searches and leaving the site without resolution.
With the problem clearly quantified, our engineering team developed a unified search experience that could handle either request and decipher user intent. Based on the intent we are now able to send users to a knowledge article or their product page all from a single search experience—a simple solution on a high traffic experience that has moved the needle for our users.
Building on a History of Analytics
The journey to this level of scientific user feedback began with the major challenge of integrating our support websites. With the groundbreaking merger of Dell and EMC two years ago, we had two separate high traffic websites, each with a support portal for their legacy products.
Because Dell.com had extensive eCommerce capabilities, a significant analytics capability was already in place to track every aspect of online sales. That instrumentation also extended to the Dell.com support portal which could in turn be leveraged for EMC.com.
As we charted a course to consolidate our support portals we decided that analytics would be an important tool to drive our design. Ahead of any design work we first decided to dramatically increase instrumentation on EMC.com to collect a much deeper level of user measures as a critical input into our design. Our hope was that by understanding what aspects of the site were being used, and not being used, we could evolve toward a simpler design of the combined site.
Interestingly, having data on each site helped us break down the typical integration tensions that consolidating anything often creates. Instead of stakeholders citing the way they’d always done things to shape the future design, decisions were analytics-driven. The numbers showed us that the two sites weren’t really all that different or unique. At the end of the day, it was a website that customers go to to support a piece of hardware with embedded software. The numbers showed us all that we had much more in common than anyone thought at the start.
The new Dell.com/support site was launched in April 2018 and extended globally on August 26. The site’s analytics-driven approach has improved customer satisfaction scores 10%, decreased contact volume by 10% and decreased page load speeds by 35%.
With analytics embedded in the software development lifecycle process, we continue to measure customer experience to remain responsive to emerging needs. Our IT analytics team members now have a permanent seat at the table and are part of every decision we make about the site and our customer experience.
Adding Science to the Art of Software Experience Design
We still do some of what is considered the art of software experience design; the qualitative research reaching out to small groups of customers to get their feedback via focus groups, putting prototypes in front of them and doing empathy work to understand their needs. But adding science to the process with a quantitative view of a larger sample of customers lets us hear the voice of the user on a more constant basis.
There is huge value in the quantitative feedback loop which comes from analytics. You are able to know what people are doing in an application and perhaps more importantly what they aren’t doing. We regularly see instances where we design a new app and there are pieces that are getting used and pieces that aren’t getting used even though we think they are important.
It couldn’t be more clear that analytics provide a more sustainable way to stay close to your users, which allows you to deliver better outcomes in every experience.
While both EMC and Dell have received many awards from the TSIA—the biggest service industry association out there—over the years, this is the first time TSIA has recognized the IT side of our services team. That milestone underscores the critical importance of IT in enabling the services industry to provide the experiences we want for our customers.
We invite you to check out the blog Digital Transformation in Field Services: Award-winning Best Practices to learn how Dell EMC Global Field Services won the 2018 TSIA STAR Award for applying end-to-end digitalization, automation, and data capture and analysis to improve the onsite customer support experience.