Meet Tim McDougal, recently named Deloitte Digital’s service transformation offering leader. Here, he shares insights into customer service trends, how the pandemic is changing the business world, and his “newly adopted” passion. 

Tim works with companies to reimagine and transform the customer service experience across operations, service, support, and more. He advises clients across various industries to balance strategic objectives with the practical realities of contact center operations while helping them navigate complex and emerging contact center technologies. His primary focus is helping companies develop and implement strategies using the right technologies to elevate the customer experience with an eye on driving business growth.

Tim is known for his ability to come through with a winning solution no matter how big the challenge—all while maintaining warmth and a sense of humor. We enjoyed sitting down with Tim to talk more about his new position, trends to watch, and the impact of the pandemic.

  • Tim, congratulations on your new role. Tell us more about Deloitte Digital's service transformation offering.

I'm looking forward to leading this incredible team. For Deloitte Digital, service transformation encompasses all the customer touchpoints during and after a sale. After all, a sale is just the beginning of a relationship. Delivering excellence in service and support is critical to establishing trust and building long-term relationships. In the B2B world, these activities may include guidance for finalizing contracts and any payment terms, as well as contact center support for set-up and ongoing troubleshooting. In the B2C world, these activities can span a myriad of process steps, payment terms and support. A company can't just be good in one area and fall short in another. A positive experience at every touchpoint helps improve the customer experience and increases customer lifetime value for the business.

Our offering encompasses service operations, customer service, contact centers, field service and more. We're helping organizations re-invent the service experience and deliver high-quality, meaningful human experiences across the value chain. That means optimizing omnichannel delivery and using cloud, digital, and emerging technologies like robotic process automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to help anticipate customer needs and meet them in the right channel with the right capabilities. Our team includes professionals with broad industry experience and deep technology knowledge—along with creativity and the know-how to execute.

  • There's a lot of buzz about digitization. What does this mean to service?

In today's world, data is everywhere—it's collected constantly—data about products, customers, service, support experience, you name it—from simple information such as location and date of purchase to more sophisticated information on usage and maintenance. Sadly, many organizations fail to use this data to create an exceptional experience when it matters most to a customer.

As an example, digitization is the impetus behind an evolution in field service. Emerging technologies such as IoT, AR/VR, asset management, and predictive maintenance play a starring role. In the telecommunications realm, we have data about assets in the field—their operating systems, lifespan, usage, and more. This knowledge about the asset helps companies provide more relevant service interactions to customers—that translates into solving their problems quickly and efficiently, often before the customer realizes it. The next horizon companies are exploring is to link advertising and marketing to service, completing the value chain across the customer journey.

  • You emphasized the importance of meeting customers across the customer journey. How can companies deliver a more seamless experience?

Today's customers are always on the go. They are comfortable doing business in a variety of channels, whether in-store, online, or mobile. Likewise, they expect service at any time of day, for any need, via phone, email, live and asynchronous messaging, social media—plus in-store and physical mail. The challenge for companies is to deliver seamless service, so customers receive the same degree of quality whether they use a chat window or make a phone call. By focusing customer service on enhancing value for each customer, the contact center becomes the human heart of your business—and elevates their experience. To meet these evolving needs, we are developing a hybrid asset called TrueServe™ that revolutionizes how organizations engage in a digital way. I’m excited about how this new offering can help change the way we engage with clients to solve and address these challenges. You’ll be hearing more about it this summer, so stay tuned.

We've talked about omnichannel service orchestration for years, but that's being replaced with right channeling: meeting customers where they are and directing them to the most appropriate channel to fulfill their needs. Instead of thinking of "omnichannel" as all channels, why not direct them to the right channel? It's more efficient, cost effective, and ultimately, satisfying to the customer. For example, what's the most effective use of the physical bank branch? A digital application might work for opening a new checking account. Still, for securing a loan for that first home or new business, an in-person meeting could be an opportunity to begin a long-term relationship.

  • How has the pandemic influenced virtualization?

In response to the pandemic, consumers have not only accepted the digital world but have embraced it across all aspects of daily life. We are now working remotely, ordering groceries and banking online, streaming video, interacting with a chatbot for product support—all in a day and often multiple times a day. This momentum is creating a rising tide toward virtualization—and more data. Companies can use this data to personalize and customize, to digitize and automate service. They can elevate the human experience at the moments that matter most. Can you really drive memorable experiences? It might be as simple as letting a customer know an item they've browsed is on sale—or a reminder of a partner's birthday or their car is due for an oil change—then greeting them by name and offering a favorite beverage or snack when they arrive for that service.

  • In the service arena, what would you say is the most significant challenge companies face today?

Organizations everywhere are asking, "how do I hire (and retain) skilled talent?" Demand for workers has returned and even exceeded pre-pandemic levels, but the number of available workers has not. It's a challenge to meet workforce needs, and that issue is pervasive across the service landscape. The reasons are many, and the "Great Resignation" is leading to a reordering of the economy and re-shuffling the work environment. Organizations need to deliver what's important to all the humans they serve. In the past, workers would leave jobs because they were dissatisfied with the pay, the work schedule, or the work itself. Now, they are looking at policies around purpose, sustainability, diversity, employee benefits, and even whether remote/flexible work is allowed.

We're seeing a window for companies to balance opportunity and productivity: is it possible to create an environment for service excellence where everyone succeeds? Start by understanding what's essential to the humans who make up an organization and create an environment driven by purpose and trust where everyone thrives. Our HX TrustID™ measures how employee values correspond to company values and offers insights to bring them into alignment.

Digitization can play a supporting role in employee relationships, as well, and help drive action in moments that matter. Data-driven solutions include self-service tools for benefits and scheduling or pulse surveys that deliver insights into well-being and outlook. We've found that cultivating a culture of trust and purpose translates to more productive, satisfied employees and that in turn leads to happier, more experienced employees—and ultimately, more satisfied customers.

  • Thanks, Tim. We've talked a lot about how the pandemic has changed the business world. How has it impacted you personally?

I'm glad you asked! Like so many others, my wife and I adopted a puppy from a rescue during the pandemic. As I learned more about the rescue's mission and the hardships and mistreatment that many of these dogs endure, I decided to help. I've become incredibly passionate about helping dogs and now volunteer with an organization that helps dogs find caring, forever homes.

Tim, that's amazing, such an inspiring story. And thank you for sharing your insights about service trends. I know we’ll be keeping in touch.

This article is part of a blog series focused on the digital customer.

Previously, we caught up with offering leader Dounia Senawi—don’t miss her interview! Stay tuned for more insights and updates, and learn more about our digital customer offering and service transformation here.

Tim is a managing director with Deloitte Consulting LLP and brings more than 22 years of experience to his role in leading Deloitte Digital’s service excellence offering. He works with clients to reimagine and transform the customer service experience across operations, service, support, and more by bringing together the right mix of talent, technology, and business strategy.