Every day your service team interacts with your customers across channels. This team fulfills requests, completes transactions, answers questions and addresses issues around products and services customers have purchased from you.

For many years, companies have looked to the service function to complete these kinds of activities with an emphasis on speed and efficiency. As a result, many have relegated service to the end of the customer experience.

The commonly held view is that service is just a cost of doing business — not a source of revenue growth or product innovation.

New Accenture research suggests that if you’re still limiting service to that old role, you’re leaving revenue on the table. Our End-to-Endless Customer Service research found that when companies fully view service as a value creator, they generate 3.5 times more revenue growth than organizations that manage service as a cost center.

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Companies that report always involving their service organization in new product development achieve up to 10 times more revenue growth than companies that keep these functions separate. 

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How can service create value? When service is predictive and proactive, it works in the background to make customers’ lives easier. Customers feel the benefits of a better product experience, and their trust in the business grows. Similarly, the service function can offer strategic, relevant advice to customers. Through a “trusted advisor” role, service helps customers maximize the value of their purchases (while increasing the likelihood of retention and renewal).

Revenue growth is even higher among companies that consistently feed service-generated insights into other business processes. In fact, companies that report always involving their service organization in new product development achieve up to 10 times more revenue growth than companies that keep these functions separate.

When you think about it, this relationship between customer service and product development isn’t surprising.

Any time customers complete tasks and transactions, organizations collect a wealth of data about how customers are using their products and services. The kinds of questions they’re asking. The issues they’re having. Even the way they respond to service-centric communications.

All this data can provide rich insights for developing better products, delivering better customer experiences and achieving higher growth within your business.

Four ways service insights can unlock growth

What are some ways you can use AI-powered service insights to improve existing or create new products and services — and increase revenue? The possibilities are endless, but here are four examples.

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Improve customer onboarding

What are the best ways to onboard customers? If you’re a business with both an online and in store presence, how do you understand what resources are needed to address both types of storefronts? AI-powered insights can surface a variety of opportunities. That may include clarifying product instructions or mobilizing in-store personnel for troubleshooting and cross-selling. This analysis might even surface ways to enhance the product itself for a better experience from the start.

Make the best offer at the point of service

Think about one of the most pervasive service channels in an airport: the check-in kiosks. When an airline presents upgrade offers at the kiosk, it collects valuable data about customer preferences and decision making. Advanced analytics can help identify how numerous variables — customer demographics, pricing, time of day, length of flight — affect customer behavior. That, in turn, can help in crafting more personalized offers as passengers check themselves in for their flights.

Build better bundles (more quickly, too)

For retailers, service-generated insights also can help in spotting trends. Suppose a significant number of customers start combining apparel, home goods, food products, and/or arts and crafts materials in surprising ways. What’s driving these combinations — and how can a retailer turn them into revenue growth? By analyzing sales and service data, a retailer can quickly develop and promote on-trend product bundles.

Adjust offerings

It’s common practice for retailers to recommend related products based on what customers buy. But what about adjusting offerings based on what customers return? For retailers, returns are among the most costly and onerous service transactions. By tracking detailed information about returns, retailers can be more informed about how they select and present products to customers.

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Service data is a rich source of customer feedback. Are you listening?

To start using insights from your service function to help improve and create new products and services, we recommend these three simple steps:

  1. Make sure you have the right tools in place to collect the right data. With prior clients, we’ve recommended instituting a voice of service program. This program provides a formal approach for capturing and analyzing service data. It also offers a structure for how your company translates insights into product innovation.
  2. Make service a natural extension of sales and retention. With prior clients, we’ve established programs where service teams are responsible for driving specific upgrades and renewals, and also executing “save the customer” program. Their intelligence is further enhanced by AI-powered conversation and recommendation systems. They feed their insights back into product development, so the new or updated products are more aligned with customer expectations.
  3. Create an entrepreneurial culture. During the pandemic, store closings and change in buying behavior created a huge shift to digital and curbside. The lines between sales and service got really blurred as every human was operating remotely and was helping customers adjust to the new ways of buying and servicing. The companies that fared better than others are the ones that instilled an entrepreneurial culture among talent, where the best salespeople were also becoming service people, and service people were doing sales. This cross-pollination of function and talent demonstrated that humans don’t come in silos, and its simply a matter of giving them the opportunity to show their broader talent. So, the success is not just in providing insights, but also in unique career paths that blend sales and service. This also created the ability to drive personal/experiential insights from sales to service, and vice versa.

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Accenture Solutions.AI for Customer Engagement explained

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Tuning in to service insights can revolutionize how you improve products, craft point-of-sale communications and onboard new customers. Your service data and service talent are talking. It pays to listen well.

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See more on Customer insights.

Sharad Sachdev

Managing Director – Applied Intelligence, Solutions.AI for Customer Engagement Lead

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