The future of customer service will be measured in the number of calls eliminated by predictive and prescriptive diagnostics. Gone are the days when your calls are routed to unqualified personnel whose only job is to document your problem and reroute you. Big data has forever changed the nature of customer service and leading the charge is Rod Bagg, Vice President of Analytics and Customer Support for Nimble Storage.

Enabling Proactive Customer Support
"90% of the time, Nimble Storage is informing our customers about issues rather than the other way around," explains Mr. Bagg. "We eliminated 50% of our call volume immediately after implementing this predictive and prescriptive approach and last year that call volume remained flat while we grew 30% new customers."

According to Mr. Bagg, what allowed all of this to change was his and his founder's vision to track everything from day one. "When you are starting out, you don't want to limit yourself to only collecting data on the problems you know about. From day one, Nimble Storage has collected every bit of data we could and that has fueled our own predictive analytics for customer support."

By collecting as much data as they could, Nimble Storage is empowered to see precisely what's driving a particular issue and which of their other customers are likely to be impacted by a similar problem.

Big Data Won't Eliminate Customer Support Entirely
While big data has dramatically reduced the call volume, Nimble Storage is smart enough to know that technology can't replace customer support entirely. "Despite how predictive and prescriptive we are, there will always be the problems you can't predict," Mr. Bagg explains. "That's why we staff our call center with level 3 engineers who will solve our customer's problem, usually on the first call."

Whenever a single customer has a problem, the level 3 engineer trouble shoots and resolves the problem which makes the customer extremely happy. Imagine getting resolution rather than call rerouting when you have an issue? Nimble Storage then has it's engineer document the problem so that their team can better predict which of their customers is likely to experience the same problem in the future. From there, they reach out proactively with a prescribed solution so that that potential problem never happens.

"For example," Mr. Bagg explains, "perhaps one of our customers updated software that inadvertently was incompatible with an application. Not only can we address this problem for the first customer, but we can see that another 100 customers are likely to be impacted by the same issue and prohibit them from installing the same software and instead redirect them to the patched update."

From Acquisition to Retention to Raving Fans
While it is sometimes difficult to pin down precisely what makes a prospect choose your company over a competitor, Nimble Storage has found that when prospects see their back-end system for predicting potential problems and assigning fixes before the problem even happens, this usually helps to close the deal.

Moreover, the sales teams are freed up from the typical escalation process. That is, when you can't get what you want from customer support, you inevitably call upon the sales person who sold you and get them to help you fix the problem. Instead, sales teams are freed up to work on more deals, helping to further fuel growth.

On the retention side, Nimble Storage's customers are spending substantially less time dealing with tech support issues and instead are free to work on the next big project for their own company. This drives retention and ultimately leads to raving fans who love the change from reactive to predictive and prescriptive support.

White Glove Treatment Means Incredibly Positive Experiences
This is the new frontier of customer support. While call centers used to contend with the number of platforms customers want to engage on (i.e. phone, email, instant message, social media, texting, etc.), now they can eliminate much of the chatter in exchange for productive diagnostics, which leads to real and sustainable customer support.

The goal is that each interaction with Nimble Storage is positive whether you are receiving a proactive support notification or are speaking with a level 3 engineer to resolve an issue. When customers reach out, they receive an experienced person who has access to powerful big data diagnostics that helps to make informed decisions. What more could you want from customer support?

I can't wait until this approach migrates from B2B companies into our daily lives. Imagine a day when your cable or mobile phone company eliminates problems before you even see them. This is the future of customer support empowered by big data and forward thinking innovators like Rod Bagg.

Published on: May 13, 2016