Presented by PagerDuty

There’s a disconnect between the front office and the back office, and it’s happening at the worst time. Best-in-class customer service is critical right now, but when the customer service team isn’t talking to the devops team, and the devops team doesn’t know what’s happening out in the trenches, customers get caught in the middle. That’s when you lose business, and your reputation takes a hit.

“Expectations are at an all time high. People’s tolerance is at an all time low,” says Jonathan Rende, SVP and general manager, products at PagerDuty. “Unfortunately, customer service agents aren’t armed, a lot of the time, with the information that could help them react better and get proactive.”

The customer is a signal, and it’s vital to be attentive to that signal. They’re often the first to notice an issue, even before devops has identified any problems. Or the back-office team, working on an incident, might not realize that the issue is impacting customers, or that the number of tickets are multiplying, and customer service is left holding the bag.

Automated customer service operations (CSops) makes agents a seamless part of the company’s overall retention strategy, and a part of the team in a non-intrusive way, in which everybody has the information and visibility they need to do their jobs. Customers and organizations are moving from a traditional model in a digital world to devops, which is focused on being agile and responsive, distributing responsibility to the teams that own it. It’s a trend that needs to extend to the customer service organization.

“When we can make that golden connection between the front office and the back office, and sync up customer cases with incidents, magic starts to happen,” Rende says. “When they see that rise in customer impact, they change the priority. The urgency changes on that issue.”

The impact of the CSops-devops disconnect

When the back end and the front end aren’t communicating, the impact can ripple throughout the organization. The teams themselves are consistently frustrated. Development experiences ongoing interruptions from customer service teams when they’re head down in the middle of other tasks. The customer service team perceives they have little visibility into potential and ongoing issues, often relying on customers themselves to fill them in.

One of the worst-case scenarios is the furious customer call to an executive. That often lands the customer service organization in a top-down review — and sometimes that leads to improvements, but without looking at the larger picture, problems can continue to crop up.

And then there’s the great resignation and the rising tide of job-hopping, where talent becomes increasingly hard to hold on to. Customer service is a particularly challenging job, and often thankless. They’re tasked with finding ways to carefully handle people who are already riled up, and with an enormous responsibility hanging over their heads: keeping that customer’s business.

Equipping them with the right tools and eliminating much of the rote manual labor directly impacts retention and satisfaction. They’re able to get more out of their job, become more productive and effective, less frustrated, and feel more valuable.

“Progressive organizations get that job retention in customer service is an important thing,” Rende says. “They’re not trying to throw bodies at it in offshore facilities on the other side of the world. They just want to empower their people to do a better job.”

Why automated CSops should be a priority

Right now, the status quo for many companies is that everyone, from developers and IT operations to customer service agents, is called upon to do more with less, and are all working in a siloed, disconnected manner. The number of manual steps required to take basic actions is staggering: A system to look up the status of an issue, switching to another system to look at the customer’s account, pivoting to do research in another system, turning back to the customer for questions.

That’s where automation comes in — all the information a worker needs automatically inserted into their case, the lines of communication automatically opened when an issue arises, and issues routed immediately to the person or department best able to handle it at any given time.

“We’re providing that visibility that turns into proactive communication back to the customer,” Rende says.

Automating the communication and the collaboration between back office and front office links each case directly to an incident, which means the time to acknowledge and the time to fix are dramatically reduced.

Real results across the company

At the highest level, most companies see improvements in SLOs and SLAs, which many organizations have real dollars attached to, Rende says. They’re enjoying a boost in NPI (New Product Introduction) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) as well. And cost savings can be measured per issue that’s managed, and how much faster incidents are resolved.

Take Guidewire, a PagerDuty customer. The company has integrated Event Intelligence capabilities, which reduces company-wide alert noise by only alerting the right responders, and makes escalation paths more efficient. “With that, and the Salesforce Service Cloud integration, which gives customer service greater visibility into incident data, they’re saving material time and proactively communicating with customers.”

There’s a top-line benefit to the company as well, Rende says. Becoming more proactive, and reducing the time spent on interruptions and issues, does a few key things. First, freeing time from interruption means more time to innovate, and more innovation leads to greater top-line growth of the company.

And then there’s the customer satisfaction, which can be measured in cold, hard metrics, but the impact of that increased loyalty and trust can also be seen across the company.  

For companies not ready for a bigger transformation, taking baby steps in the beginning can immediately empower customer service teams to do more, even if it’s just giving them visibility to connect the back office to the front office.

“No organization has the gold standard established for the back to the front office communication,” Rende says. “Just take the first step and see the benefits – and that paves the path to customer satisfaction.”

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