Whether it is ATMs, chatbots, self-check registers at the grocery store, or self-ordering kiosks at restaurants, self-service has become an integral part of our daily experience, forever shaping the customer journey. Because of this, the expectations customers have on technology to support them throughout their journey has reached an all-time high.
Across all industries, organizations are undergoing rapid digital transformation to keep up with customer demands. In the Service Council’s 2022 Service Leader’s Agenda Benchmark Survey, service executives stated that “Customer Management & Experience Initiatives” were their top focus area for 2022. Additionally, half of the service executives cited “Changing Customer Demands” as their top external challenge.
In a recent Smarter Services™ webinar, entitled “Delivering on Self-Service: How to Meet Evolving Customer Expectations,” Service Council CEO and host John Carroll was joined by Crystal Williams, Director of Technology Innovation at WR Immigration, and Christina Keohane, Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce, for a broad industry look at how the organizations are leveraging technology to embrace personalization and transform the customer experience.
A Leading Example Across All Industries
WR Immigration is a top-rated immigration law firm with over 35 years of experience building robust immigration programs for companies with diverse workforces. The firm is one of the fastest growing immigration service providers worldwide, with 9 offices servicing over 100 countries and a large portfolio of corporate clients.
Says Williams, WR Immigration wanted to provide a more consumer-like experience for their clients. Because they represent corporations that are sponsoring employees for a visa, this meant finding a solution that could meet the needs of, and deliver a good experience for, both a corporate and individual user.
What WR Immigration was hearing from customers was that they wanted better visibility into their immigration case without having to approach their employer to find out where they were in the process or what the next steps would be. Additionally, companies needed better visibility into all employees that were going through the visa process. “Because we represented enterprise companies with large populations of foreign nationals, the need for a self-service portal was very evident.”
According to Keohane, the need for self-service is a trend that she has seen rising quickly across all industries. “The fact is customers at all levels prefer self-service first. As organizations begin thinking about their digital transformation journey, self-service is the perfect place to start. Not only does it empower customers to help themselves, but it allows agents to spend time on more complex issues.”
Digitizing Across the Journey
WR Immigration realized that they were missing key opportunities to digitize their service. Largely a paper-based industry, they knew they needed to streamline processes through innovation to provide a better experience for their customers and set themselves apart. Due to the nature of their industry, which involves clients’ personal and private information, there was a strong need for security to protect that sensitive data.
It quickly became evident that Salesforce was the best solution to provide a secure, all-in-one portal that would ensure their client’s data was safe while also offering a single source of truth for their immigration case. The client portal can be tailored to a specific audience, so employers can log in and see all the different cases for their employees, while employees can log in and just see their individual cases. Additionally, customers can securely upload documents and complete questionnaires directly in the portal. It also includes FAQs, knowledge base articles, memos, and anything else they would need during their visa case.
Another important feature is the ability to access real-time information and updates from other sites, including tracking their visa process on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services government website. By being able to offer all these tools in a seamless and secure platform, WR Immigration has been able to provide a 360-degree view of a complex process for companies, employees and their attorneys.
Personalization is Key to Success
The visa application process, whether successful or not, is a journey that is fraught with a lot of stress and emotion for the applicant. As John Carroll points out, this is something that the service industry can relate to as well. Says Carroll, “We’ve been tracking for some time the need for humanity in service. Often, as service leaders, we can lose sight of the fact that there is a person on the other end of the service journey, not just equipment that needs fixing.”
For WR Immigration, it was critical that the implementation of new technology didn’t result in lessening the customer connection. Says Williams, “It’s a challenge. Immigration is an emotional and anxiety-ridden process. It’s also incredibly nuanced and involves so many different agencies, and WR Immigration felt we needed to do what we could to lessen that anxiety.”
With this in mind, WR Immigration approached self-service by deciding to streamline administrative tasks that took up a large portion of their attorneys’ time, so they could be free to focus on clients. Says Williams, “The self-service portal has really helped our attorneys be more present for clients. We can offer the benefits of speed and service, as well as a more personalized experience.”
For Keohane, the personal touch is critical to customer satisfaction and retention. “WR Immigration’s story proves that making your customer feel like a person, rather than a number, goes a long way in making customers want to work with you. As organizations across other industries start thinking about how they can implement self-service, it’s important to consider the element of personalization.”
Self-Service is Here to Stay
WR Immigration continues to innovate their self-service and client offering, thanks to the power of Salesforce. They recently launched a new initiative designed to increase clients’ visibility into the complete visa application process, giving clients a customized, dynamic view into the next steps for a case. According to Williams, the dynamic aspect is particularly important because, with each step of the visa process, there are so many different outcomes that can occur. Not only does it help them be prepared and have expectations for each possible outcome, but it also lessens the burden on WR Immigration’s lawyers and paralegals. Says Williams, “Before, our lawyers were having to call their client or type out a long, detailed email with information on the next steps. Now, clients can see this in real-time. It’s really been a huge benefit to both our clients and attorneys.”
For Keohane, the driving force that she has been seeing behind self-service is two-fold. “The first, of course, is empowering customers to get answers they need fast. However, it’s also about agent productivity – or lawyer productivity in the case of WR Immigration.” While she says many people focus on self-service in terms of FAQs and knowledge bases, self-service is so much more than that. “It’s easy to think of it as just a help center, but it’s also a productivity tool. With the economic shifts and talent shortages we are seeing right now, organizations are being tasked to do more with less, and self-service empowers frontline agents to do that.”