CPA Global is focused on delivering critical customer support during the ongoing upheaval brought about by COVID-19. Jon Cooper, Director of Customer Success and Customer Service, talks us through our extended programme of contact, confidence, and clarity.

The reverberations of coronavirus will continue to be felt long after the pandemic itself begins to wane. We will talk about a world before coronavirus, and a world after it.

Of course, fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour and customer expectation had already started to occur long before anyone had heard of Covid-19 – the digital transformation of the retail economy is testament to that. Arguably there are four factors which are now at the heart of customer decision making and which must therefore be embraced by customer service professionals: value, accessibility, experience and security. These factors have always been important, but coronavirus has accelerated the pace of change dramatically as regards customer requirements and the response of businesses – including us at CPA Global.

the covid-19 effect on cx and cs

Perhaps the most lasting impact for businesses of the coronavirus crisis will be the enforced adoption of, or wider roll out and reliance on, technological solutions and remote working.

Clearly, technology has been having a profound effect on customer service and experience for many years but the challenge posed by the coronavirus lockdown measures have raised the digital imperative still higher. While some organisations will have begun at a standing start pre-crisis others will have already been further along their own digitalisation journey. It’s important to note that this isn’t just a journey for customer service professionals, it’s also a journey for customers – some of whom will be much more / less digitally savvy than others or will have relied on analogue working methods up until now.

If customers would have previously picked up the phone or written an email to a company to find information and answers, switching them to an online journey can be an interesting challenge – particularly if it is perceived as being harder or taking longer for customers to get answers. An online experience that adds time and complexity to interactions will simply not be tolerated.

At the same time, as business moves increasingly online there is a balancing act for customer service professionals between gathering and deploying data insight to offer a seamless and personalised experience, while ensuring maximum cyber security. The safer a company makes its customers feel online, the more likely those customers are to happily share personal data. A straightforward customer experience with strong but simple security features builds trust and therefore provides reassurance that any data shared will be treated safely and securely.

To some extent, the Intellectual Property industry is one of those which has been traditionally reliant on analogue processes and engagement. But the digitalisation of the IP ecosystem, brought into sharper relief during the coronavirus crisis, is continuing at pace and has important implications for customer service and experience.

Cpa global - putting customer experience first

At CPA Global this is nothing new.

We are proud to offer a market-leading suite of IP management software, data, and tech-enabled services to help customers get the most out of their IP. At the heart of our ethos is the desire to enable customers to make better decisions around IP strategy so that they can ensure assets are delivering value in the most appropriate manner and can proactively identify new areas of opportunity or threat.

But we know that offering world-class solutions is only half the battle.

It’s also our role to ensure our customers are empowered to use those solutions to their fullest extent. This means delivering exceptional services and support, not least in the face of the current adversity we are all facing.

The customer success journey

Over the past eighteen months we have been on our own “customer success” journey as an organisation.

In 2019 we conducted independent research (led by leading market research consultancy Savanta) to gather feedback from over 250 randomly selected CPA Global customers, and the results were positive.

The research found that CPA Global is seen by customers as the most notable brand in the IP management market, with the largest scale. It also revealed customers are over ten times more likely to choose CPA Global as their preferred provider again in the future. Further, customers feel CPA Global is increasingly becoming an extension of their businesses and delivering better outcomes, supported by the 50% reduction in time taken to resolve customer queries.

But for us this is the benchmark, and we have been relentless in our approach to continuous organisational improvement – particularly in light of the changes and challenges wrought by coronavirus. The initiatives and measures we have implemented include:

  • Understanding: Driven by the insights resulting from the research conducted with Savanta, it continues to be our ambition to enhance and augment our understanding of our customers and what really matters to them – in terms of innovation, product range, brand leadership and reach, as well as “soft skills” like helpfulness, reliability and customer focus. And then, importantly, implementing organisational learnings to take action and make improvements.
  • Knowledge transfer: We work hand-in-hand with our customers on an on-going basis, whether via interactive workshops and webinars or via our highly trained customer support teams who can guide customers through the entire experience of using a solution, demonstrating each aspect of its functionality in line with need. These efforts have been redoubled, with ever more demand for online learning opportunities and resources during lockdown.
  • Overcommunication: In light of the current situation, we have significantly increased the frequency and volume of communications to customers – with a focus on value, practicality and usefulness. We have also diversified our delivery channels, including providing additional numbers of one-to-one virtual meetings. We are proactively making phone contact with as many of our customers as possible, letting them know that their businesses matter to us and that we’re here to help. In our conversations with customers we are reassuring them that we remain fully operational and that there is no interruption in our service – times are uncertain so we will not be a source of further uncertainty but rather of confidence.
  • A culture for success: We’ve positioned CPA Global teams to focus on building strong relationships with existing customers first and foremost, in a way which is targeted to meet their specific expectations and requirements. In this way we’ve become a trusted adviser that deals responsively with issues and is proactive about improving customer experience and outcomes.
  • Focusing on talent: As customer success rises up the agenda, talent is critical. We are investing in identifying, training, mentoring and incentivising individuals who have what it takes to go beyond “customer service” into “customer success” roles. This provides them with interesting and rewarding career paths and our customers with motivated, dedicated contacts who can help them make a tangible positive difference to their business. We have also designed and implemented new remote processes for our customer facing teams to support a thriving remote working environment. This has also meant changing how we recognise the performance of our teams, to ensure motivation in a new environment.

Taken together, these measures can broadly be defined in terms of what we call the Three C’s: Contact, Confidence and Clarity.

It is our organisational vision to help deliver truly Frictionless IP, whereby the ideas that change the world are never constrained by the IP machinery that manages them. But we can only measure our success against this ambition by the success of our customers.

The journey is not over yet – there’s always room for improvement and refinement and we’re not complacent. Although the current crisis has presented challenges, this will only further our commitment to improving customer care and the prospect of creating ever closer and more valuable partnerships with our customers.