Ten years ago Tony Blair was preparing to hand over the reins of Prime Minister to Gordon Brown, the rebuilt Wembley stadium had just opened its doors to the public and Twitter celebrated its first birthday. Meanwhile plans were being hatched to launch a new company that was going to change the way companies interacted with their customers. The company was ServiceTick and, to celebrate its first decade, we thought it would be interesting to reflect on how we’ve prospered and evolved in response to changing markets and new technology.
In 2007 companies wanting feedback from their customers got it primarily from traditional research agencies who would base opinions on a sample of customers interviewed three months previously. Why not, we thought, use the technology that was readily available to gather a continuous flow of feedback from customers who had just interacted with a brand? Instant Voice of the Customer (VoC) feedback would create a truer picture of brand perception, much richer insights about how to improve process and agent performance and the opportunity to engage with disgruntled customers. Surveys served through IVR, email and web surveys quickly became seen as an invaluable window into our clients’ business and, as a result, ServiceTick thrived. Within a few years we became the leading supplier for VoC in the UK Contact Centre industry and were running the largest IVR feedback programme in Europe.
From the outset we’ve sought to make the gathering of feedback as frictionless as possible. We’ve had to engineer the ability to invite feedback from customers through whatever medium they chose. Over the years the ServiceTick offer has become truly ‘omnichannel’ in nature, embracing surveys via: inbound and outbound IVR; SMS; email; web; webchat. We are now creating feedback loops through Smart Speakers (Amazon Echo), Bluetooth beacons and Apps.
At the same time we have had to keep pace with changing trends in feedback metrics, observing how the ubiquitous Net Promoter Score (introduced 2003) has been challenged first by Customer Effort (2008 and reworked in 2013) then by Customer Emotion (2015) as the best KPI of customer experience. Again, our ‘take’ on this has been pragmatic (different companies will favour different metrics) and sensible (the metrics actually measure different customer reactions and should be used in tandem).
Our number one priority has always been to make our clients’ business more successful but it has been rewarding to know that we have also contributed to the industry awards they’ve won – “Customer Experience Champion 2014” (Tesco Bank), “Most Effective Customer Experience 2015” (One Savings), “Best Deployment of Customer Insight 2016” (Endsleigh Insurance). We’ve also appreciated the industry acknowledgements that have come our way - nominated in the 2014 Deloitte Technology Fast 50; and in 2015 the TechTrack 100 (which celebrates Britain’s fastest-growing private technology companies).
The single most important customer experience trend over the last ten years has been the shift to online. (In the US ecommerce now accounts for 9.5% of all retail sales while in the UK the figure is a staggering 19%). In response to this trend we launched our second product, SessionCam, in 2010. Designed to analyse how customers interact with a website and automatically identify potential barriers to conversion, SessionCam has generated dramatic growth for itself and its clients. In the space of 6 years it has established a truly global client base with brands such as Nestle, AT&T and Fedex all benefitting from the machine-learning technologies that we have developed to support a struggle-free ecommerce environment.
Benjamin Franklin believed "When you're finished changing, you're finished." So, while our business has always been focused on helping our clients create a great customer experience, we remain hungry for new ideas and opportunities that will drive our own business forward. Already this year we have launched a new self-service survey for websites that integrates ServiceTick and SessionCam, providing a 360 degree view of online activity. We have pioneered a new skill for the Amazon Echo that gathers spontaneous feedback from the home and we’re about to introduce new Beacon and App-based feedback programmes. The landscape of business technology does not stand still; neither should we.
At the heart of our success over the last decade has been our customers. Customer service is a goal we aim to deliver every day and we know that without the invaluable support of our clients we would not have been able to build the business we have. Thank you to all those who have trusted us to help improve their customer experience over the last ten years; and we look forward to working with you for the next ten.