Multichannel Customer Service Is Dead. Long Live Agile Service!

Kate Leggett

Multichannel commerce is dead, says fellow analyst Brian Walker in Forbes . The essence of this article is that customers don’t choose to interact with you on a single communication channel from start to finish. They interact with you over the most suitable channel for them at that point in time — which could be their mobile device, or a chat session, or a phone call, or email, or web self-service from their iPad. Brian calls this agile commerce.

I agree that it is an agile world out there. And yet, agility does not stop at commerce — it extends to everything that we do, from buying to receiving marketing offers to customer service. Think, for example, about the process you follow to fix an issue with one of your electronic devices. You may browse a community forum, browse the company’s Facebook page, then their official website, contact an agent who can't help you, tweet about it, get contacted by a better-skilled agent who figures out that you need to purchase a new driver and transfers you to someone who can process your order, which you receive on your mobile phone.

 

An example of agile customer service

 

The point is that a customer does not make a distinction between a sales transaction or a customer service transaction. All they expect is to be able to receive the same customer experience every time they interact with a company, over any communication channel that they use.

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Splintering into mobile

Stephen Powers

I love reading newspapers, and I have a 45-minute train ride to work and that’s perfect for newspaper reading. But the newspaper box at the train station has eaten more than its fair share of my pocket change even when I do have quarters (which is almost never) . And I’m too lazy to get out of my nice warm car on cold mornings and pick up a paper at a convenience store. So these days, I’ve been reading newspaper content on my mobile device of choice (a painfully slow Blackberry).

I’ve noticed a few things about mobile newspaper web sites. First of all, they’re not that great, at least not the ones for the two major Boston papers. They don’t seem to be optimized for the Blackberry. Unnecessary photos slow things down. Navigation is difficult. And the section landing pages don’t always match the print version; for example, sometimes the top story in the sports section is a stale one from two days ago. However, the content’s free – for now - so I guess I can’t kick.

But it made me realize how challenging manage multiple online experiences has become. My colleagues Josh Bernoff and Shar VanBoskirk wrote a great piece about the “splinternet”, which discusses how our online experiences are splintering across multiple devices and touch points. Content and collaboration pros supporting Web content management (WCM) implementations are in for a battle to support mobile Web sites. After speaking with a number of clients about this, the biggest concerns are around:

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Two Models Emerge For Customer Service In Facebook - Which Will Win?

Kate Leggett

With customers increasingly using social tools (Facebook tops 500 million users with 41% of Americans having a Facebook page, 7% of Americans use Twitter, and YouTube gets 2 billion views per day), how do you interact with and service your customers where they are spending their time?

Let’s focus on Facebook, as it has the potential to evolve into a shopping and service destination for retailers. Two support models are evolving. One model is to engage in support activities via a separate tab on a Facebook company page. Once a user clicks on this tab, they can engage with a community of peers or a customer service agent without leaving the site. There are vendors, like RightNow, Parature, Genesys, and Get Satisfaction, that offer apps that do just this.

The other Facebook support model that is emerging is one that is based on listening to all conversations happening on a wall, separating the noise from actionable posts, then routing actionable inquiries to a customer service department so that an agent can respond directly to the post — either on Facebook or by engaging the customer over a more appropriate channel — for example, like pushing a chat link to them on Facebook. This is the model that salesforce.com  and LivePerson are advocating.

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“Just Right” Customer Analytics - update

Boris Evelson

Why, oh, why is it that every time I hear about a BI project from an IT person, or from a business stakeholder describing how IT delivered it, with few exceptions, these are the stories plagued with multiple challenges? And why is it that when I hear a BI story about an application that was installed, built, and used by a business user, with little or no support from IT, it’s almost always a success story?

I think we all know the answer to that question. It’s all about IT/business misalignment. A business user wants flexibility, while an IT person is charged with keeping order and controlling data, applications, scope, and projects. A business user wants to react to ever-changing requirements, but an IT person needs to have a formal planning process. A businessperson wants to have a tool best-suited for the business requirements, and an IT person wants to leverage enterprise standard platforms.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Both. The only real answer is somewhere in the middle. There’s also a new emerging alternative, especially when applied to specific domains, like customer analytics. As I have repeatedly written in multiple research documents, front-office processes are especially poorly-suited for traditional analytics. Front office processes like sales and marketing need to be infinitely more agile and reactive, as their back office cousins from finance and HR for obvious reasons.

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To BI Or Not To BI — That Is The Question For SAS

Boris Evelson

First of all, congratulations, SAS AR team, for one of the most efficiently and effectively run events.

SAS needs to make up its mind whether it wants to be in the BI game or not. Despite what SAS’s senior executives have been heard saying occasionally, that “BI is dead,” SAS is not quite done with BI. After all, BI makes up 11% of SAS’s very impressive $2.4 billion annual revenue (with uninterrupted 35-year growth!). Additionally BI contributed 22% to SAS 2010 growth,  just below analytics at 26%.

Even though some organizations are looking at and implementing advanced analytics such as statistical analysis, predictive modeling, and — most important — model-based decisions, there are only a handful of them. As our BI maturity survey shows year after year, BI — even basic BI — maturity is still below average in most enterprises. Add these numbers to the abysmal enterprise BI applications penetration levels in most large organizations, and you get continued, huge, and ever-expanding opportunity that no vendor in its right mind, especially a vendor with leading BI tools, should miss.

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First Details Of Forrester’s 2010 Global Banking Platform Deals

Jost Hoppermann

Forrester began surveying global banking platform deals in 2005. For 2010, we evaluated about 1,200 banking platform deals submitted by 23 vendors and located in more than 130 countries. Shortly, we will publish the final results of this evaluation. Today, I want to offer some initial trends:

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Mobile Tablet PCs, Not Phones, Will Create Critical Mass For Enterprise BI Adoption

Boris Evelson

Mobile devices and mobile Internet are everywhere. Over the past few years, Forrester has tracked continuously increasing levels of adoption and maturity for mobile business applications, but not so for mobile business intelligence (BI) applications. The adoption and maturity of mobile BI fall behind other mobile enterprise applications for multiple reasons, mainly the lack of specific business use cases and tangible ROI, as well as inadequate smartphone screen and keyboard form factors. However, larger form factor devices such as tablets and innovative approaches to online/offline BI technical architecture will boost mobile BI adoption and maturity in the near future. BP professionals must start evaluating and prototyping mobile BI platforms and applications to make sure that all key business processes and relevant information are available to knowledge workers wherever they are.

But mobile BI adoption levels are still low. Why? We see three major reasons.

  • Smartphones still lack the form factor appropriate for BI
  • The business case for mobile BI remains tough to build
  • Mobile device security is still a concern

Now, mobile tablet devices are a different story. Just like Baby Bear's porridge in the "Goldilocks And The Three Bears" fairy tale, tablet PCs are "just right" for mobile BI end users. So what can you do with mobile BI? Plenty!

  • Improve customer and partner engagement
  • Deliver BI in the right place, at the right time
  • Introduce BI for the workers without access to traditional BI applications
  • Improve BI efficiency via query relevance
  • Improve "elevator pitch" effectiveness
  • Give away mobile devices as an incentive to cross-sell and upsell analytic applications
  • Position the cool factor of mobile devices
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Does The Good Old 80/20 Rule Work For Estimating BI Costs?

Boris Evelson

I get tons of questions about "how much it costs to develop an analytical application." Alas, as most of us unfortunately know, the only real answer to that question is “it depends.” It depends on the scope, requirements, technology used, corporate culture and at least a few dozen of more dimensions. However, at the risk of a huge oversimplification, in many cases we can often apply the good old 80/20 rule as follows:

Components

  • ~20% for software, hardware, and other data center and communications infrastructure
  • ~80% for full time employees, outside services (analysis, design, coding, testing, integration, implementation, etc), new processes, new initiatives (governance, change management, training)

Initial softare costs (~80%) vs. Ongoing software license maintenance costs (~20% / year)

Direct (~20%) vs. Indirect costs (~80%). Here are some examples:

Direct ~20%

  • Data integration for reporting and analysis
  • Data cleansing processes for reporting and analysis
  • Reporting and analytical data bases such as Data Warehouses, Data Marts
  • Reporting / querying / dashboards
  • OLAP (Online Analytical Processing)
  • Analytical MDM (Master Data Management)
  • Analytical metadata management
  • Data mining, predictive analytics
  • BI specific  SOA (Services Oriented Architecture) or other types of EAI (Enterprise Application Integration)
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The App Internet: What It Means For Development Professionals

Jeffrey Hammond

 

My colleague John McCarthy just published an excellent report sizing the "app Internet," a phenomenon Forrester defines as "specialized local apps running in conjunction with cloud-based services" across smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Forrester estimates that the revenue from paid applications on smartphones and tablets was $2.2 billion worldwide for 2010 with a CAGR of 82% through 2015. We're witnessing the rebirth of the rich client in real time, on the mobile device instead of the laptop or desktop. Developing applications using native application technologies like Objective-C, Java, or Silverlight is clearly how the majority of developers are reaching these mobile platforms today (see figure).

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Social Breathes New Life Into Knowledge Management For Customer Service

Kate Leggett

You have to admit that knowledge management (KM) is hard — it’s hard to explain, hard to implement, hard to do right. It’s not just technology. It is a combination of organizational realignment, process change, and technology combined in the right recipe that is needed to make KM successful. And when it is successful, it delivers real results — reduced handle times, increased agent productivity and first closure rates, better agent consistency, increased customer satisfaction. Check out the case studies on any of the KM vendors' sites to see real statistics. Yet despite these success stories, and despite there being commercially viable KM solutions on the market for over 10 years, I am unsure whether KM really ever crossed the chasm.  

Why is it then that we are seeing renewed interest in KM in 2011? I believe it’s attributed to listening (and acting on) the voice of agents and customers, coupled with loosening the strings of tightly controlled content that has breathed new life into KM. Most common trends include:

  • Using more flexible authoring workflows. In the past, knowledge was authored by editors who were not on the frontlines of customer service, who foreshadowed questions that they thought customers would ask, and who used language that was not consistent with customer-speak. Authored content would go through a review cycle, finally being published days after it was initially authored. Today, many companies are implementing “just-in-time” authoring where agents fielding questions from customers, not backroom editors, create content that is immediately available in draft form to other agents. Content is then evolved based on usage, and most frequently, used content is published to a customer site, making knowledge leaner and more relevant to real-life situations.
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