Francisco Costa


Partner & Enterprise Solutions Lead - Xpand IT

Use Case: A digital experience in after-sales service

  • In this article, we’ll explore how a retail company was able to improve its customer service using Dynamics 365;
  • How to turn an after-sales service into a digital experience.

After-sales services are one of the most critical parts of the buying experience. The trend is for companies to pay increased attention to their customers, thus bringing organisations closer to people.

After-sales service can be defined by all the interactions of a given customer after purchasing one of the organisation’s points of sale.

Case study

In this article, using a case study, we will take as an example a company in the retail sector to explain and detail all the needs and challenges encountered at this stage of the customer journey – the after-sales service.

Company analysis

Consider the situation the world has been going through in recent years. Imagine a company that grew a lot during the pandemic. Still, amidst the hustle and bustle of that growth, there was never the time and dedication to restructuring its internal processes to keep up. This is a company that dealt with its after-sales process using only Excel sheets, email boxes and the telephone to support customers on their journey. This quickly became unaffordable and was reflected in the relationship with its customers.

There were not, for example, SLA’s, knowledge bases, or even satisfaction metrics.

Challenge: AS IS Scenario

Suppose a customer has just arrived home on holiday after buying an automatic coffee machine. While unpacking the product one of the water tank parts was damaged, which caused frustration. The customer immediately went to the company’s website and noticed that the telephone service was only available on working days, between 9 am and 5 pm. Discouraged, continues searching the site and finds an e-mail address, which allows for greater flexibility in contacting customer support. The customer then decides to explain the situation by e-mail, including photographs of the damaged part.

However, the customer service department is overwhelmed with work and is unable to triage incoming emails. It is therefore only able to deal with the customer’s complaint one week after receiving it, without the customer having been given any information about the process during this time.

In turn, and because there was no reply, the customer sent back more emails, generating duplicates of the complaint.

In its response, the company indicated the steps to be taken so that the customer could receive the new part. To do this, the customer was asked to provide billing data, address, and product code and attach the invoice of the purchase – information that the company already had on its side, but too scattered to be useful.

Upon receiving the email, the customer sends the necessary information the next day, and the part arrives four days later.

With this scenario in mind, there are some fragilities:

  • Sense of unavailability.
  • Lack of feedback.
  • Long response times.
  • Customer dissatisfaction.
  • Generation of duplicate complaints.
  • Unconnected or searchable information silos.
  • Lack of mechanisms to measure customer satisfaction.
  • Disorganisation in internally performed functions.
  • Management lacks visibility of processes and/or team performance.

Solution: TO BE Scenario

To meet its Customer Service needs, the customer support department decided to opt for the Dynamics 365: Service and Customer Voice solution, to meet the needs of its customers. To create a digital experience in the after-sales service.

Dynamics 365 is a Microsoft business system which has two components: ERP, where techniques such as invoicing, stock management, and resource management, among others, are inserted, and CRM, for managing business processes, customer support, marketing, etc. The Service module aims to meet customer support needs, offering incident management functionalities, response agreements and knowledge bases, aiming at improving the customer’s visibility over the company. The Customer Voice component allows satisfaction surveys to be created and sent, as well as analysing of the information obtained from them.

To overcome the existing fragilities, the customer service system was configured where it is possible to manage incidents, agent allocation, service agreements (SLAs) and internal knowledge bases (for the team’s use) and external knowledge bases (for customers’ consultation). After this rollout, the above scenario would play out as follows:

This time, the customer, realising there was a damaged part, has a FAQ page available, created from a knowledge base, where he/she can search for ‘Damaged Part’. The customer quickly found an article with a specific address to report the situation, indicating that the process should be resolved within four working days. The customer sent an email to that address.

In turn, the company’s system automatically creates the incidence, which is given to the agent with the lowest number of incidences. This reduces the response time and ensures that the agent knows exactly what to do (because it has obtained this information from one of the knowledge bases). Unnecessary email exchanges with the customer are thus avoided.

As Dynamics 365 is a solution that adapts to the needs of the organisation, templates frequently used by agents for the various incidents were also configured. In this case, the agent only has to select the damaged part dispatch template, which will be automatically filled in with the customer’s information in the system.

After receiving the part and considering that the company has configured the sending of automatic surveys from its new system, a satisfaction form is sent to the client, to obtain information on the resolution of the problem that originated the incident.

Finally, since the system is based on a database with excellent quality information, management can finally obtain information about their teams’ performances with the help of intuitive reports and dashboards.

This allows us to improve on the points mentioned above as follows:

  • Sense of constant follow-up, with the timely exchange of information.
  • Customers feel supported by the company, knowing that the company is aware of them, avoiding unnecessary exchanges of information.
  • Reduction of response times, thanks to the distribution of incidences by specialised groups of workers, and attention to their workload.
  • Team optimisation, as articles and templates are configured so that they can work more quickly and efficiently.
  • Elimination of duplicates, as the system, can identify repetitions.
  • A better reading of the business through the analytics provided by the system.

Visibility of customer satisfaction, through the surveys, sent out.

In short

At the end of the transformation, this company was left with an optimised and structured solution, which allowed it to scale its business to new heights, with a crucial step in building its client’s 360º vision. Excel is still part of the company in a data transaction format, but Dynamics 365 has become the daily work tool.

How Xpand IT can help you:

Our multidisciplinary team can assist in various components, from definition to the implementation of the solution. We leverage all the experience and know-how we have in different areas to offer the best approach, geared to your business. If you would like more information, please contact us.

Francisco CostaUse Case: A digital experience in after-sales service
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Node.js: the JavaScript platform used by Netflix and Uber

The progressive and noticeable growth of JavaScript is hard to ignore. Over the years, this programming language has singlehandedly provided hundreds – if not thousands – of frameworks and libraries, helping developers and companies to create websites, portals, and interactive and agile applications, with modern interfaces. Adding the fact that JavaScript is completely independent from other platforms, easy to learn and supported by an ever-growing community, among many other advantages, it is easy to understand why.

However, for a long time, JavaScript was a language exclusively oriented towards client-side development and never managed to establish itself for backend purposes – at least until 2009, when the first version of Node.js was launched. For the first time in history, JavaScript became a viable alternative for backend solutions.

It is important to demystify the fear that many companies have about this alternative to more traditional backend solutions (Java, .NET, etc.) in the world of Enterprise applications, even though companies including Netflix, Trello, PayPal, LinkedIn, Uber, Walmart, NASA, Intel and Twitter have already successfully implemented Node.js in their infrastructures – and this list continues to grow each day.

For those who are not familiar with Node.js, it is important to highlight some of its biggest advantages:

  • Ideal for the construction of real-time applications;
  • Facilitates the programmer’s full stack vision in JavaScript (as both backend and frontend languages are the same);
  • Decreases development time, thanks to its full stack view;
  • Supported by a gigantic community that contributes new libraries and updates at an astonishing rate;
  • Extremely fast code execution;
  • Ideal in architectures oriented towards micro services.

We can now go back to what we really want to discuss: why should companies adopt Node.js for their applications? In a nutshell, because it was designed for large-scale applications, offering a modern perspective on how to develop applications with complex architectures.

How those capacities actually come to fruition is the most important aspect.

Scalability is essential for the vast majority of current corporate applications, and Node.js responds to that necessity by offering a base clustering module with load balancing on multiple CPU cores. Associating the clustering power with a single-threaded, non-blocking solution, specifically designed for events and callbacks, allows it to handle multiple connections simultaneously, processing millions of concurrent connections.

Being single-threaded is often regarded as a limitation because, theoretically, it can slow down the performance of the application, but that is nothing more than a myth. On solutions that are not oriented towards events, where multiple threads are necessary to deal with multiple requests, the number of parallel threads is limited. Node.js is completely free from these limitations. As long as there’s available memory and if the kernel allows it, we can effortlessly process any number of simultaneous requests.

Companies are also generally afraid to place their code in the Cloud, which would prevent the usage of the NPM (Node Package Manager). In order to address this issue, we have created a new Enterprise version that can be installed and maintained on companies’ own infrastructures, therefore preserving their internal module registry and complying with the strictest security requirements.

We also need to touch on the subject of long-term support. This will always be a priority for Enterprise solutions, but the truth is that Node.js also assures that very same support.

Each major version of Node.js will include active support for 18 months from the period it becomes eligible for LTS (Long Time Support), after which it will transition to a maintenance regime with a duration of 12 additional months. During this period, the version used will receive security updates and bug fixes, but new functionalities will not be added. In this way, we have addressed the potential problem that causes the absence of support for solutions developed with the help of Node.js, due to its lack of longevity.

Based on all this information, the aforementioned companies decided to make their transition to this technology. What have they accomplished?

  • Netflix: a reduction of over one minute on buffering times.
  • LinkedIn: rebuilt the core of their mobile services with Node.js. Their application is currently running 20 times faster and benefits from a substantially better integration between backend and frontend. This was achieved while Node.js was just in its first year of development.
  • PayPal: migrated all their web applications from Java to JavaScript and Node.js and saw their programmers writing 33% less lines of code, using more than 40% less files and reducing by half the necessary time to build their applications (while also requiring less people). Response times have decreased by roughly 35%, which translates to an improvement of 200 ms in page creation times.
  • Uber: built their interpersonal system between drivers and passengers with Node.js, due to its fast response capabilities and massive power to process requests, along with the welcome ease and ability to have a distributed architecture.

I don’t want to plant the idea that Node.js is a “silver bullet”. It might not be the best solution for all cases, but it is always wise to evaluate your possibilities and understand the potential benefits of this technology.

Francisco Costa

Enterprise Solutions Lead

Francisco CostaNode.js: the JavaScript platform used by Netflix and Uber
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