Google’s Next Play: Your Assistant For Everything - Not Just Answers

Michael Facemire

This blog post is co-authored by VP and Principal Analyst Julie Ask and Analyst Andrew Hogan at Forrester.

Google held an event in San Francisco this week to announce several new consumer products – a smartphone, a wireless speaker, Wi-Fi routers, a virtual reality headset and an updated Chromecast solution. All showcased an emerging strategic direction for Google and some killer engineering and design skills.

None of it impressed as much as the demos of Google Assistant – Google’s virtual assistant.

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Field Service: Increasingly Important For Differentiated Customer Service Experiences

Kate Leggett

Field service technologies are more than two decades old. Companies have leveraged them to coordinate the flow of work orders that came in as service requests to the contact center. They were able to reap real ROI by using these technologies to schedule technicians, manage their routes and their flow of work. 

Today, with the rise in importance of delivering differentiated customer experiences, field service technologies are become increasingly important. This is because, the service tech who ends up on your doorstep, or at the site of faulty equipment represents the face of your company. They are your brand ambassadors. These interactions are by far the most personal channel for customer engagement, and they can help make or break a relationship.

This means that: (1) you want to equip your service techs with all the information and data that they need to easily address the reported issue, and (2) you want to use cutting edge technologies to deliver great engagement.  These technologies include:

  • Mobility for field service effectiveness - Companies communicate to field techs, increasingly via mobile apps, the location, timing, and details of their jobs. They also allow techs to provide dynamic pricing of labor, parts, and products. Mobile applications must be easy for techs to use, often with gloved hands, in challenging conditions including low lighting and hazardous job sites. They must also work in disconnected environments.
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Can Salesforce Really Prescribe An End-to-End Sales Process?

John Bruno

Last week, nearly 170,000 business and technology professionals descended onto San Francisco for Salesforce’s annual conference, Dreamforce. The event itself was ripe with discussions on social responsibility and charity, but most attendees, including myself, attended for other reasons. We wanted Salesforce to pull back the curtains on what it saw for the future of sales.

Once things got underway, Salesforce’s Einstein took center stage… quite literally. We’ll get to Einstein in just a bit, but not to be overshadowed by Einstein, Salesforce unequivocally made their keynote about sales. 2016 was a landmark year for Salesforce and their commitment to sales. They closed on their acquisitions of SteelBrick and Demandware, and used Dreamforce as the stage to rebrand them as Salesforce CPQ and Commerce Cloud respectively. So what does all this mean? It means that regardless of sales channel, Salesforce is fighting harder than ever to be your selling platform of choice… and they make a pretty compelling case.

Let’s take a closer look at the case Salesforce is making. To do so, we must understand Salesforce’s pillars of technology supporting sales.

  • Sales Cloud delivers core CRM functionality for sellers. Sales Cloud is the bread and butter for Salesforce. For many of its customers, Sales Cloud represents the foundation of technology enabled selling processes. From account and opportunity management to pipeline management and white space analysis, Sales Cloud helps sales and sales leaders strategize and prioritize their sales efforts.
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Drunk History of Your Mobile Strategy

Ted Schadler

Everybody can name their favorite apps. But can you name even two mobile websites you love? We can't. So we stared into the awful maw of the mobile web to learn how to fix it. 65 companies signed up to help. Along the way, we found problems stemming from the journey you've taken to be in your customer's pocket.

My colleague Danielle Geoffroy brilliantly realized that it was a drunk history, so we wanted to share it with you.

  • 2008: "There's an app for that." Savvy developers jailbroke the first iPhone so they could build apps. Apple then launched the Apple App Store and chaos ensued as every developer and company piled on the apps as the mobile strategy. (And y'all invented the pub game, "there's an app for that.") You ignored the mobile web.
  • 2010: Responsive retrofits tiny-ize websites but miss the mobile moment. Agencies and creative developers swooped in to magically morph brands' giant desktop websites into "mobile-friendly" websites. But that strategy led to the quiet crisis that responsive web design is not mobile-first.
  • 2016: Apps are winning . . . just not yours. Forrester's data shows that US consumers used 26 apps last year and 26 apps this year. (Millennials use . . . wait for it . . . 28 apps.) Consumers have enough apps — they don't want more. What's worse, they spend 60% of their total mobile time (web and app) in just three apps — usually owned by Facebook and Google. 
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R.I.P. BlackBerry Phones

Ted Schadler

An era has passed. BlackBerry will no longer make phones. RIM opened our eyes when it put the power of digital communications into our pockets. Email on the go was the beginning of the mobile mind shift.

I loved the passion of Mike Lazaridis and his team for building great devices that we'd drive home and get if we left on the counter. His devices were the first to inspire such passion, such intimacy, such a feeling of empowerment that we now all take for granted. He started it.

As a software guy, I was always saddened by the clunky interface for apps other than email and messaging, but I loved the power flowing into my palms from the BlackBerry devices I carried.

Then along came iPhone. As a software guy, it only took a few months of jailbroke phones and developer-built apps before I realized that the real mobile revolution had arrived -- a computer in your pocket. That's when the mobile mind shift really kicked in, as Julie Ask, Charlie Golvin, and Thomas Husson recognized very early.

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Video Helps Your Customers In Their Moment Of Need

Nick Barber

Your customers use apps like Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, and Facetime to hold video calls and you should be using video to connect with them, too. In our report Now You See Me — Video Chat Improves The Customer Experience we found that retail, financial services, healthcare, and other verticals embrace video chat as a way to serve customers in their time of need and as a way to drive measureable ROI.

The cultural and technology barriers to easy video chat have come down in recent years. A UK-based bank deployed video chat for its advisors to use with high net worth clients. These clients, who are typically older, are just as familiar with video calling as their younger cohorts--they use Skype and Facetime to talk to children and grandchildren. On the technology end, a key enabler for video chat is WebRTC, which allows browser-based video conversations without the requirement for downloading plugins. A key driver to adoption is reducing friction.

UK footwear retailer Schuh expanded video chat by deploying it to mobile and increasing the number of video agents by 20% in two years. Video is now Schuh’s busiest customer service channel, eclipsing phone and text chat.

Video chat is useful across the customer journey. Agents can answer questions about a product, they can use co-browsing to help a customer navigate a site or find an item and they can answer questions about how to use a product once purchased.

Video chat endpoints diagram

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The Competitive Dynamics Of Workforce Optimization--A Critical Driver Of Customer Experience--Unpacked

Ian Jacobs

We’ve all heard the idea so much it is now approaching hackneyed cliché: technological-driven disruption can—or will—hit every industry. Uber and Lyft have monkeyed around with the fundamental order of the taxi and livery business. 3D printing threatens manufacturing. And so on and so on. The result of all this disruption: customer experience has become the one true differentiator left to most companies. At the same time, companies have begun to wake up to the idea that customer service is a critical component of overall customer experience. Dimension Data reports that 83% of companies view the contact center as a competitive differentiator, up 30% since 2012.

So, customer service has become a crucial competitive differentiator and in response companies have started to experiment with emerging technologies like cognitive computing, bots, augmented reality, and video chat. But shrewd companies have also recognized that the tools they use to manage and optimize the performance of their customer service organizations can also drive the competitive differentiation they need to thrive. Customer service application pros see workforce optimization (WFO) tools as the fuel that drives customer service organizations. Additionally, in particularly hot areas such as speech, text, and desktop analytics, customer service pros see the ability to not just improve their own team’s performance, but also drive broader business transformation. By deriving insights from actual customer interactions, these tools can help not just customer care, but also marketing, sales, operations, field service, accounts payable, and pretty much any other corner of the enterprise.

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Videoconferencing Is No Longer Boardroom Bound

Nick Barber

Throw open the boardroom doors. Videoconferencing is making a dash to to the huddle room, your desktop, and the cloud. In Forrester’s new Vendor Landscape: Videoconferencing Platforms we look at videoconferencing market trends and the 15 vendors that support the space.


Videoconferencing is a must have for employee experience. It drives hard cost savings with travel reductions and decreased time to market and soft savings with employees--particularly remote workers--who are more engaged. Global software decision makers aren’t in the dark about the benefits of videoconferencing as its implementation has been outpaced only by IP telephony.


There are three key reasons that have driven videoconferencing out of the boardroom including:

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Google Pitches In To Declutter The Mobile Web

Danielle Geoffroy

On their constant quest to enable users to quickly find the best answers to their questions, Google announced last week that starting in January 2017,  they will bury mobile websites where the content is blocked by intrusive interstitials. In other words, mobile websites that have pop-up ads won’t rank as high in Google’s search results.


We’ve all felt the pain of having to hover our finger over the  closeout sign of a large ad, before we can get to the content we set out to find. This frustrates us, and takes away from the immediacy we desire in mobile moments.


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Facebook Violates Rule #2 Of An Insights-Driven Business: Marry Algorithms And Expertise

Ted Schadler

Facebook can't buy a break with its newsfeeds. Every time it changes the model, somebody complains. But its latest snafu -- turning over the job to an algorithm without expert oversight is not the answer. Posting a fake story just isn't smart. It's not insights-driven; it's head-in-the-sand.

(The provenance of this image is opaque. If you own it, please let me know so I can attribute it properly.)

An insights-driven business is built differently and operates differently. As we say in our report

  • Rule #2: Marry algorithms and expertise to continuously improve outcomes. Algorithms are not a secret sauce; they are a model of the real world. If the algorithm says X and the expert says Y, then there's room to improve either the algorithm or human understanding. Innovators like Allstate Insurance (and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) accomplish this by putting product experts (or oncologists) and data scientists in a room to continually refine their cognitive assistants. (see endnote 9)
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