Forrester's Top 15 Trends For Customer Service In 2013

Kate Leggett

2012 is still a vivid memory for most of us. But it’s time to look ahead to 2013 and focus on the key trends that customer service professionals need to pay attention to as they plan for success this year. Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report is here.

PERSONALIZE CUSTOMER SERVICE

Trend 1: Channel Preference Is Changing Rapidly

Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, and digital channels like chat and email. Channel usage rates are also quickly changing: we’ve seen a 12% rise in web self-service usage, a 24% rise in chat usage, and a 25% increase in community usage for customer service in the past three years. Expect customer service organizations to better align their channel strategy this year to support their company’s customers’ needs. Expect them to also work on guiding customers to the right channel based on the complexity and time sensitivity of interactions.

Trend 2: Mobile Solutions Are Becoming A Must-Have

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Enterprise Mobility -- Are You Ready For The Ride?

Michael Facemire

My colleague Melissa Parrish recently posted how perpetual connectivity will change how we experience the world. I read this and couldn’t help but get excited about the endless mobile possibilities — but I can see how enterprise leaders are filled with an equal amount of trepidation. Consumer mobile devices create countless new opportunities to engage your customers, employees, and business partners at a level never before seen. As Melissa points out, this will change nearly every facet of how your business operates. Here are the areas that Im excited about:

  • Enterprise architectures will change from a three-tier model to a four-tier model that incorporates an aggregation/data transformation tier. This will allow existing enterprise infrastructures to react to the new mobile demands on performance and scalability while allowing the enterprise to migrate existing services (public and private) to a cloud-based service-oriented offering.
  • Successful mobile strategies include four key areas: mobile delivery, cloud, social, and big data. The service tier in the new four-tier model will not only federate internal services for mobile consumption but will naturally extend to include third-party services. This statement will cause security leads to block my blog from being accessed within your company, but don't fret: new security architectures (zero-trust, among others) are being developed with exactly this service-level interaction in mind.
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Nuance Acquires VirtuOz. What Does This Really Mean?

Kate Leggett

The word on the street is that Nuance is buying the online virtual agent company VirtuOz for an undisclosed sum (see the TechCrunch article here). So what does this acquisition mean?

Let's start with Nuance. Nuance’s solutions help engage customers with what it terms “smart, automated conversations.” Its customer service solutions revolve primarily around the voice channel and support both inbound and outbound interactions. Nuance’s main building blocks focus on speech and touch-tone automation solutions, speech-enabled call-routing solutions, voice authentication, and outbound notifications. Recently, it launched Nina, a virtual assistant product targeted at the enterprise for mobile customer service. Again, Nina leverages much of Nuance’s core expertise in voice biometrics, speech recognition, text-to-speech rendering, and natural language understanding to empower customers to ask questions and receive relevant answers to questions like “Did my last check clear?” without tortuous back-and-forth conversations between the customer and the service organization.

What Nuance does not have is a complete customer service solution, being so focused on voice interactions. Specifically, Nuance lacks web self-service solutions to support the increasing popularity and usage of these digital channels. This is where VirtuOz comes in.

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IT Industry Disruptions Will Fuel Renewed Asia Pacific Market Growth In 2013

Michael Barnes

The Forrester team of Asia Pacific (AP) analysts has just published its 2013 IT industry predictions. Below is a sneak peek at some key regional trends I wanted to highlight.

2013 will be a transformative year for IT adoption in AP, as multiple IT trends converge to drive industry disruptions and help spur renewed growth in IT spending. Forrester expects IT spending in AP to rebound in 2013, with regionwide growth of 4% — rising to 8% when the large but slow-growing Japan market is excluded. While India IT spending growth will remain sluggish, the 2012 economic slowdown in China will be short-lived as government stimulus policies take effect in 2013. The Australia, New Zealand, and ASEAN markets will all remain resilient, with Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines leading the way in IT spending growth.

Below are some other key predictions shaping the Asia Pacific IT industry in 2013:

  • End user computing strategies will be limited to mobile device management (MDM). AP organizations are feeling the pressure to deliver applications and services across multiple devices, including traditional desktops/laptops, smartphones, and tablets. But lack of skills will hinder bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) policies, which will remain limited to MDM, including basic device control and security/identity management.
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Customer Service: Why It Matters — And How To Do It Right

Kate Leggett

For many companies, customer service is a cornerstone of their customer experience strategy. It’s an area of increasing importance because:

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Big Data Predictions For 2013

Mike Gualtieri

William Shakespeare wrote that “What’s past is prologue.” Big data surely builds on our rich past of using data to understand our world, our customers, and ourselves. Now the world is flush and getting flusher in big data from cloud, mobile, and the Internet of things. What does it mean for enterprises? In a word: opportunity. Firms have taken to big data. Here are my four predictions for key enterprise big data themes in 2013:

  1. Firms will realize that “big data” means all of their data. Big data is the frontier of a firm’s ability to store, process, and access (SPA) all of the data it needs to operate effectively, make decisions, reduce risks, and create better customer experiences. The key word in the definition of big data is frontier. Many think that big data is only about data stored in Hadoop. Not true. Big data is not defined by how it is stored. It can and will continue to reside in all kinds of data architectures, including enterprise data warehouses, application databases, file systems, cloud storage, Hadoop, and others. By the way, some predict the end of the data warehouse — but that’s nonsense. If anything, all forms of data technology will evolve and be necessary to handle the frontier of big data. In 2013, all data is big data.
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Build, Buy, Or Outsource Customer Service Solutions? Here's An Approach To Help You Decide

Kate Leggett

How do you choose the right customer service solution for your needs? It’s always best to take a systematic approach: (1) benchmark your current operations using our Assessment Framework to pinpoint areas for opportunity and (2) pragmatically investigate options to source your missing capabilities. Options range from repurposing technologies used elsewhere in your company, to outsourcing, to purchasing suites or vendor point solutions. I recommend using the following process to step through the choices: 

  • Step 1: See if your company is using similar technologies that you can leverage. Web self-service, mobile, social, email, and chat solutions, for example, are often deployed by sales and marketing. If you choose to leverage existing technologies, make sure that they can scale and operate at the level of performance and reliability to support customer service operations. Also make sure that the experience that the customer receives when interacting with these technologies is consistent across functional organizations.
  • Step 2: Consider outsourcing. If there are no existing technologies that you can leverage, consider outsourcing this entire capability, or perhaps a portion or all of your customer service operations, to a third-party organization. In a recent Forrester survey, we found that 10% have already outsourced some or all of their operations or are very interested in doing so. Outsourcing can help reduce cost of operations, but can also improve the quality of services delivered and allow you to focus on core business activities that are mission-critical to your company.
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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Six Mobile App Development Predictions For 2013

Mike Gualtieri

Six Mobile Predictions!

Top Forrester mobile app-dev analysts Jeffrey Hammond and Michael Facemire prognosticate about the top trends for mobile application development in 2013. In this episode of Forrester TechnoPolitics, your host, Mike Gualtieri, asks Jeffrey and Michael to each make three predictions about mobile application development in 2013. Listen to this lively discussion and let us know if you agree or disagree with these predictions or have a few of your own to contribute.

Podcast: Mobile App Development Predictions For 2013 (14 minutes)

Click here to download the MP3 file of this episode.

About Forrester TechnoPolitics

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Amazon Targets Enterprise IT In Las Vegas: Insights & Observations From re:Invent User Conference

Michael Barnes

Amazon Web Services (AWS) held its first global customer and partner conference, re:Invent, in late November in Las Vegas, attracting approximately 6,000 attendees. While aimed squarely at developers, AWS highlighted two key themes that will appeal directly to enterprise IT decision-makers:

  • Continued global expansion. AWS cites customers in 190 countries, but the company is clearly pushing for greater penetration into enterprise accounts via aggressive global expansion. AWS now has nine regions (each of which has at least one data center), including three in Asia Pacific: Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney. 
  • An expanded services footprint within customer accounts. The major announcement at re:Invent was a limited preview of a new data warehouse (DW) service called Amazon Redshift — a fully managed, cloud-based, petabyte-scale DW. As my colleague Stefan Ried tweeted during the event, with a limit of 1.6 petabytes, this is not just for testing and development — this is a serious production warehouse.
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TechnoPolitics Podcast: The Pragmatic Definition Of Big Data Explained

Mike Gualtieri

Rowan Curran, Research Associate and TechnoPolitics producer, hosts this episode to ask me (your regular host) about The Pragmatic Definition Of Big Data. Listen (5 mins) to hear the genesis of this new definition of big data and why it is pragmatic and actionable for both business and IT professionals.

 

Podcast: The Pragmatic Definition Of Big Data Explained (5 mins)

 

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