Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This seven-post series focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.
Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.
Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.
Part 3 reviewed the tactical outcomes of poor customer service.
Part 4 focused on the ways that the customer service technology ecosystem is changing.
Part 5 categorized technologies based on their ecosystem maturity.
Part 6 focused on what this analysis means to customer service managers.
In this final post, I will focus on where do you go from here, now that we know what the core customer service technologies are, how mature they are, and what their business value is. I recommend a three-step process:
Recently I have invested a fair amount of time with CMOs and agency executives, working through the challenges that marketing faces, especially as shiny new objects like social and mobile develop some patina and digital gets categorized as a mature channel. In a past post on Forbes I called the era we now live in a “post-digital” world for marketers, because the strategies that matter most are those that don’t start with the channel (i.e. mobile-first or digital-first). Marketers need to put themselves in their customers’ seat and define the marketing activities they take on from a customer-first perspective.
Two years ago, Josh Bernoff and I answered the question of where competitive success would come from in the future. In that research, we defined the era we now live in, the age of the customer (see report, client access required). We just updated that report. Since we expect that era to continue for the next 20 years, you need to know what has changed. The age of the customer is defined by a number of undeniable trends:
Customers are empowered. From multitab browsers to mobile devices, most people hold the power of information in their hands. How often do you hear from agencies, reporters, and your own customers reinforcing that message?
We are now in the age of the customer, with buyers using technology to gain control over institutions. That power flows from customers’ newfound ability to seamlessly price, critique, and direct their purchases.
What does this mean? At the risk of being overly dramatic, the future belongs to customer-obsessed enterprises.
All of this holds many implications for your company — especially around marketing — and in future posts I will explore those dynamics. But one question intrigues me at the moment: What will the age of the customer mean for the techies in your company?
Technology is essential in any managed security operations center. Technology has come a long way to create an active defense of the enterprise. There are vendors that offer solutions for log management, web application defense, firewall, incident event correlation, and many others. In order to understand the size of the security technology market, Forrester and the MSP Alliance are partnering in a survey to look at the managed security functions and the technology MSSPs use to deliver their services. If you are an MSSP or an end user of these technologies, you can complete this survey at:
We get a lot of calls from EA leaders that find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place: They need a tool to help them through a specific initiative such as application rationalization or transformation management, but don’t have the time, maturity, approach, and financial justification for the EA management suite (EAMS) that would get the job done. As I mention in my recent report, "Select A Right-Fit Toolset For EA," this uncertainty and urgency has fueled the proliferation of new vendors addressing specific challenges. What I did not mention is that these new choices don’t just signal more competition in the usual market - they actually signal a new market entirely. One that is probably bigger than many might first think.
I’m referring to the mid-market. Not just in the obvious sense of smaller, less mature EA practices, but also including the myriad situations where the initiative is being carried out by a role that has no idea that they’re acting as an “EA,” or by consultants hired to get the job done and get out. There’s a big market out there of temporary EA “initiatives” (as opposed to permanent EA groups or practices) and consultants that would leverage a tool if it were cheap enough, easy enough, and straight-forward enough for these short-term use cases.
Even doughnuts have gone digital. Between offering mobile alerts for hot doughnuts and interacting with evangelists on Twitter, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts has set out to integrate digital programs into its customer interactions and relationships – while still staying true to the 76-year-old global company’s core brand DNA. In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6, Dwayne Chambers, Chief Marketing Officer at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him.
I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!
Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?
The Krispy Kreme brand was built on word-of-mouth marketing. We are fortunate that digital/social/interactive is today’s “word-of-mouth.” Things have really taken off over the past three years.
Q. What steps has your company taken to infuse digital business and skills throughout your business?
With all the talk of data out there, who is actually using it and what are they using? Turns out, most data used in the enterprise today comes from internal applications. That is starting to change, and the trend will accelerate. But for now, when asked which data types were important to their firm’s overall business strategy, the majority of business intelligence users and planners cited internal sources such as transactional data from corporate apps or other customer data. Only about 1/3 of respondents reported the importance of external sources such as scientific data, partner data or other 3rd party data. Fewer still used unstructured external data such as Twitter feeds or other social media sources. Current data sources are limited. Yet both business and IT decision-makers recognize the need to improve their use of data: 56% of business and IT decision-makers surveyed by Forrester see improving the use of data and analytics to improve business decisions and outcomes as a top priority. And, that potentially includes expanding the use of external data... if they can find it.
Where do they go for external data? What types of data might complement their transactional and other internal data? How can corporate strategists and market research teams identify new sources of information? Where can they find them, and how can they acquire and consume them? Can they be combined with internal data? Are the sources safe? reliable? sustainable?
Peter Kujawa CEO of Locknet, Steve Tallent from Fortinet, and I were speaking at the recent MSPWorld Conference in San Jose, California about the cloud revolution. Steve was interested in the conversation because Fortinet is now offering virtualized versions of their Fortigate UTM solution. Peter was interested because his business is built on taking the pain away that platform management entails. Obviously security intersects both of these worlds.
We discussed the changes cloud computing was making to the MSP/MSSP markets and the differences between the SMB and enterprise businesses and what motivates them to consider the cloud IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS model.
Peter talked about one of his clients – a smaller client – that managed their business from a small server stashed in the closet of their offices. Peter’s company offered to replace the box with a cloud-based system that took over patching, updates, and maintenance for the system for a simple monthly fee. The client would access their applications via the Internet. The risk to this business was huge for so many reasons. The customer leapt at the chance to get rid of the box.
In another case, I was speaking with a large client and we talked about the motivation for the cloud. Inasmuch as maintenance and support are an issue, the larger issues for large companies are the IT assets on the balance sheet. This company liked cloud because of their need to “clean up” the balance sheet. There were too many IT assets loading down the balance sheet – distorting the company's return on assets.
Peter O’Neill here. Today, I was just polishing off my presentation deck for my upcoming workshop, “Achieve Revenue Acceleration Through Better Content Distribution,” at DMA 2013 this weekend and was debating whether I needed a slide that set the right expectations about B2B marketing versus B2C. This is a common discussion point with clients in my experience. Many of the documented marketing stories and best practices seem unsuitable for B2B marketers, they claim. B2C marketers respond that even business buyers are people and so the lessons they have learned apply equally to B2B. We even discuss this often within Forrester. Now, as is always the case with these interminable arguments, both parties are partly right — and they are partly wrong.
Scott Santucci and I are currently working on a Forrester report that explores this dilemma in much more detail — and suffice to say, I have selected the table below, from that report, to lead my discussion with my audience on Saturday in Chicago. As this is “research in progress,” I have annotated the graph accordingly. In fact, you now have the opportunity to give us some some feedback about this — do we use the right words? Is there something we have missed? In any case, please watch this space for the final version.