What Is Customer Service Technology?

Kate Leggett

This post originally appeared on DestinationCRM.com

Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This seven-part series focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when of the technology. Let’s start at the beginning: What is customer service technology?

The contact center technology ecosystem for customer service is a nightmare of complexity. At a high level, to serve your customers, you need to:

  1. Capture the inquiry, which can come in over the phone, electronically via email, chat, or SMS, and over social channels, like Twitter, Facebook, or an interaction escalated from a discussion forum or a Web or speech self-service session.
  2. Route the inquiry to the right customer service agent pool.
  3. Create a case for the inquiry that contains its details and associate it with the customer record.
  4. Find the answer to the inquiry. This can involve digging through different information sources like knowledge bases, billing systems, and ordering databases.
  5. Communicate the answer to the inquiry to the customer.
  6. Append case notes to the case summarizing its resolution and close the case.
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How The Obama Campaign Used Predictive Analytics To Influence Voters

Mike Gualtieri

The Obama 2012 campaign famously used big data predictive analytics to influence individual voters. They hired more than 50 analytics experts, including data scientists, to predict which voters will be positively persuaded by political campaign contact such as a call, door knock, flyer, or TV ad. Uplift modeling (aka persuasion modeling) is one of the hottest forms of predictive analytics, for obvious reasons — most organizations wish to persuade people to to do something such as buy! In this special episode of Forrester TechnoPolitics, Mike interviews Eric Siegel, Ph.D., author of Predictive Analytics, to find out: 1) What exactly is uplift modeling? and 2) How did the Obama 2012 campaign use it to persuade voters? (< 4 minutes)

 

About Forrester TechnoPolitics

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What Did We Hear At This Year’s Customer Experience Forum? An AD&D Perspective

Anjali Yakkundi

This year’s Customer Experience Forum just wrapped up, and two days and 20 client meetings later I’m back at Forrester’s headquarters. I’ve had a moment to think about the questions clients asked me, and as an application development and delivery (AD&D) analyst, it was great to see that attendees were interested in bridging the customer experience strategy with their technology strategy and decision-making process.

When thinking about those issues, the top three questions I was asked during the forum included:

  • What vendor can help us support personal experiences? I got this question a lot, and each time I found myself repeating that moving to deeply contextual experiences isn’t solved by just one technology or one vendor. Many technologies (including those you may already have in place) support a contextual strategy, and they each work together to deliver a deeply contextual experience. These include (among others) tools like AB/multivariate testing; web content management; eCommerce platforms; recommendations engines; customer analytics; and site search. And when it comes to mobile apps, it’s not always a sourcing story as you’ll likely need to build applications that take contextual inputs into account (e.g. location).
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Retail IT budgets

George Lawrie

I was intrigued to read in StorefrontBacktalk about Target’s plans to reduce its spending on IT. Apparently, investors warmed to the message, but most of our readers tell us that it’s not how much you spend, but how well you spend it that really determines whether investors see a good return on IT investment. In this research, we asked retailers which IT investments yield a quick financial return and which have the most potential to drive superior returns.

We found that pricing and promotion technologies can have a quick impact on financial performance and forecasting and that allocation and assortment optimization applications have the most potential to drive inventory turn and margin to generate favorable returns. Years ago, I heard of the brilliant success of retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley, which was attributed to his attention to assortment planning. However well you execute, you can’t make money in retail without a plan that ensures that the right merchandise is available in the right location at the right time and price.

We are re-running the survey to see how retailers’ views have changed. Please complete the survey to add your voice to our research (please be patient; it takes a little while).

 

Update/Correction: Target has told Forrester that, far from reducing IT spending, it actually plans to increase its IT initiatives in 2014. All the more reason to consider your own IT investment priorities!

People Make All The Difference: Optimize Your Talent With The Right Processes And Technology

Claire Schooley

As businesses work to differentiate their products or services, grow the bottom line, and expand globally, they need to think seriously about the important role that their employees play in helping the business achieve successful outcomes. Businesses must invest in processes and technology to recruit and onboard the best people, address performance gaps with key learning activities, provide career development plans, and align pay with performance. Activities like human resource management (HRM) deployment in the cloud and the use of mobile and social technologies for HRM processes catapult HR to the cutting edge of innovation.

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The Power To Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, Or Die

Mike Gualtieri

If you want to learn more about predictive analytics, you have to read Eric Siegel's new book as reviewed on my Intro To Predictive Analytics Reading List. Eric is a former Columbia University professor and the founder of Predictive Analytics World. I caught up with Eric at Predictive Analytics World in Chicago. Eric says that data “encodes experience” and that firms use predictive analytics to ferret out what it means — “Who will click, buy, lie, or die.” Watch to hear Eric describe it (< 3 minutes).

You may also be interested in:

What Is A Data Scientist?

What Is Hadoop?

Intro To Predictive Analytics Reading List

Microsoft Gets A New Java License, Oracle Gets A Cloud Channel

John R. Rymer
Microsoft’s cloud partnership with Oracle gives the Redmond, WA giant a new license to distribute Java technology — something it hasn’t had since 2004. With this license, Microsoft can finally offer Java as a preinstalled, first-class environment on Windows Azure as well as its Hyper-V virtualization software. Microsoft and Oracle announced their cloud partnership on June 24.
 
Developers can and do run Java applications on Azure, but strictly as a “bring your own” exercise; they were not able to get usage rights to and support for the technology from Microsoft. Without a license, Java would always be a second-class denizen of Windows Azure. Now enterprise customers can get the legal air cover they require for crucial technologies. As a result, we expect to see much wider usage of Windows Azure for a wider range of Java applications. 
 
For both Microsoft and Oracle, life is about the enterprise. And Java is a foundation of enterprise applications. In Forrester’s Forrsights Developer Survey, Q1 2013, Java support was a top-five reason to select a cloud platform. Enterprise C# developers will naturally come to Windows Azure, but Microsoft needed to attract the Java shops as well. The most popular cloud platform — Amazon Web Services — has no problem with Java; neither does Google. And in the real world, most large enterprises use both .NET and Java, so why should developers need different public clouds for each?
 
 
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Instant Insight: What Is Mobile Device Management?

Mike Gualtieri

You must invest in a mobile device management (MDM) solution especially to implement a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program. This essential technology allows IT pros to support multiple mobile platforms and form factors, extend management and security policies to both corporate-owned and employee-owned devices, and automate service desk support. In this Instant Insight, Forrester analyst Christian Kane explains what MDM is and where it is going.

About Forrester Instant Insight

Navigating the fast-changing world of business technology is a constant challenge. Forrester Instant Insight aims to provide simple, complete answers to some popular questions. Our goal: You will watch the video and be enlightened in 5 minutes or less.

This Forrester Instant Insight was produced and edited by Mike Gualtieri.

Cisco's Acquisition Of Composite Software Brings Data Intelligence To The Networks

Noel Yuhanna

Cisco’s acquisition of Composite Software is unique compared with the ones it’s done in the past. This acquisition makes networks more knowledgeable about data — a piece that’s been missing from Cisco’s framework.

Today, digital information that flows through networks is not data-aware. To networks, data is just represented as bits and bytes. There’s no built-in intelligence that tells the routers that some data needs higher priority when routing or needs to travel to another location before reaching its destination. The data intelligence piece is missing. This is where Composite Software comes in. Composite Software is a data virtualization company that knows what data is being used, how the data needs to be transformed and routed, and what data has higher priority.

Data virtualization deals with an abstraction layer of information from many disparate data sources — so it can integrate with applications, databases, files, virtualization, clouds etc.  Composite Software is one of the leading data virtualization companies that is often shortlisted by customers largely because of its strong product offering. It supports some of the most complex data virtualization deployments in existence — in part because it’s been active in this market as long as, or longer than, any other player. A key component in any large data virtualization implementation is the network that ensures consistent performance while accessing all of the disparate data, especially if the data is located across many servers, clouds and virtualized platforms.

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How Well Are Your IT Groups Supporting Digital Experiences?

Anjali Yakkundi

Your customers have been dazzled by the customer experiences they see from firms like Google or Apple. How are you going to keep up? Do you have the right IT culture and people in place to deliver on this new imperative? Are your IT objectives based on deep customer understanding? Do you have strategic scenarios to achieve your goals that are cross-business and take into account important strategic elements like governance and change management? Do you have the right provisioning policies and technology tools in place?

Most firms we speak with still have application development and delivery (AD&D) pros focused on keeping systems stable and secure. That’s no longer enough. In our recently published Digital Experience Delivery Maturity Assessment, we outline more than 100 essential practices for organizations looking to act on their digital transformation strategies. Keep in mind this is an emerging space so no one has figured everything out, but our assessment outlines four major areas to begin with:

  • People.  IT’s culture, leadership practices, collaboration methods, and skills and staffing are important factors that affect the delivery of digital customer experiences. Organizations strive to have IT groups with an agile, customer-first culture; collaborative organizational structures and metrics that foster collaboration between marketing, lines of business, and IT; and the appropriate skills and staffing that support both back-end development (e.g., mobile application developers, data-literate architects) and solution management (e.g., web content management specialists, digital asset managers).
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