Customer Service Done Right In 10 Easy Steps: Step 3

Kate Leggett

Here’s the third tip in my 10-part blog series on how to master your service experience in order to better align your capabilities with customer demand and do it at a cost that won’t kill your business. Step 3 highlights the need for multichannel integration.

Step 3: Don’t offer silos of communication choices

Your service experience should allow customers to start an interaction in one communication channel and complete it in another. For example, they should be able to start an interaction over the phone and follow up with an email containing more detailed information. Each interaction should convey consistent data and information to the customer. The agents that support each communication channel should follow the same basic processes, like asking for authentication at the same point in the service process. Each interaction should build on the prior one so that the customer does not have to repeat his question each time. This is more difficult to do than it seems, and companies have struggled for years to offer this type of seamless experience.

To allow for this, channels can’t be implemented in silos, but must be integrated so that agents have a full view of prior customer interactions over traditional channels like phone, email, chat, and SMS and social ones like Facebook and Twitter. Agents use this information to understand what conversations the customer has already had with you and can then better personalize the interaction and add value.

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Customer Service Done Right In 10 Easy Steps: Step 2

Kate Leggett

We all know that the gap between a customer’s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about products and demand value-added, personalized service. Businesses struggle with understanding which initiatives will move the needle in a positive direction and are thus worth investing in. Here is the second tip in my 10-part blog series on how to master the service experience.

Step 2: Is your customer service aligned with your company brand?

Meeting the needs of your customers are important. However, it’s just as important to stay true to your brand and design a service experience that supports your value proposition. Customers need to know what your company represents — which is especially important in the message-cluttered social media world that we live in — and have this brand reinforced every time they interact with you during the sales process, and for every interaction after the initial sale.

These companies have aligned their service offering to help reinforce their brand with their customers:

  • Apple. Its products are high-style and priced at a premium. Apple’s customer service is very much in line with its brand. The firm delivers customer service on the customer’s terms — you can arrange a phone call with an Apple Expert who specializes in your exact question and can talk with them now or later at your convenience. They’ll even call you. You can email Apple or browse its extensive knowledge base.
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The New Productivity Platforms: Your Solution To The AD&D Crunch

John R. Rymer

For fast delivery of new business applications, conventional Java and .NET coding is usually no longer your best choice. Instead, a generation of new productivity platforms holds the potential to speed initial application delivery and ongoing updates. These platforms abstract away configuration chores, repetitive coding tasks, and long testing and quality assurance (QA) cycles. Some allow application development and delivery (AD&D) teams to delegate application delivery — in part or in whole — to business experts. AD&D teams under pressure to deliver more with less should evaluate these platforms. This research outlines this emerging category's benefits and risks. Full report URL: (Note: Pay wall.)

Most application development and delivery teams have simple marching orders: "Do more with less — and fast. And when you've done more with less, figure out how to do even more with still less on your next set of projects. And deliver even faster."

We've not met a single application development and delivery professional during the past two years who isn't struggling to meet this imperative. Why? Competitive markets, business models, and consumer preferences change so quickly, and keeping up requires either making changes to existing software or writing entirely new applications.

Clients react to the AD&D crunch in a variety of ways, but one of the most common responses is to search for new development processes and tools. And right now, AD&D teams will find that a bumper crop of new development-productivity tools has arrived for their consideration. We call these products the new productivity platforms and define them as:

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Customer Service Done Right In 10 Easy Steps

Kate Leggett

Today, the gap between a customer’s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about products and demand value-added, personalized service.

Companies know that good service is important: 90% of customer service decision-makers tell Forrester that it’s critical to their company’s success, and 63% think its importance has risen. Yet companies struggle to offer an experience that meets their customers’ expectations at a cost that make sense to them, especially in these economically challenging times.

The end result for companies is significant: escalating service costs, customer satisfaction numbers at rock-bottom levels, and anecdotes of poor service experiences amplified over social channels that can lead to brand erosion. 

Mastering the customer service experience is hard to do. Focusing on the end-to-end experience can help you move the needle in a positive direction. In this 10-part blog series, I will outline one tip each day that you should think about.

Tip 1: Do you know how your customers want to interact with you?

Customers know what good service is and demand it from each interaction they have, over any communication channel that they use. Forrester’s data shows that in general, customers still prefer to use the phone, closely followed by email and web self-service. That being said, customer demographics affect channel preference with the younger generation more comfortable using peer-to-peer communication and instant service channels like chat. Its important to understand the demographics and communication preferences of your customers.

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What Is The State Of Your Consumer-Facing Mobile Initiatives?

Jeffrey Hammond

My colleague Julie Ask is fielding a survey that asks a number of questions about your company's consumer-facing mobile strategy. If you have a few minutes to spare, please take the survey to answer her questions and help us out with some in-process mobile research.

Here's the link to the survey.





Mobile Proliferation Killed Linux Hopes For World Domination

Mike Gualtieri

Poor Linux. It struggled so hard to dominate the world. It was the little open source engine that could, but it didn’t. It never even came close to Microsoft Windows on the desktop, with less than 2% share of desktops. The bright spot for Linux is that 60%+ of servers on the Internet run LinuxRead more

More Market Consolidation With Oracle Acquiring RightNow: More Questions Asked Than Answered

Kate Leggett

It’s exciting to see the news of yet another acquisition in the world of customer service with the announcement of  Oracle’s intent to acquire RightNow. Today’s contact center ecosystem is complex and comprised of a great number of vendors who provide overlapping and competing capabilities. I’ve previously blogged about what these critical software components are. The reason why these acquisitions are good is that they align with what customers want: a simpler technology ecosystem to manage from both a systems perspective and a contractual perspective. And suite solutions available from unified communications (UC), CRM, and workforce optimization (WFO) vendors are evolving and include comprehensive feature sets. These vendors have either built these capabilities out or acquired them via M&A activity — and we expect more M&A to happen.

Now, to focus on the RightNow acquisition. This acquisition, at a high level, is a win-win for both companies:

  • RightNow gets the big-company marketing, professional services, and sales reach of Oracle to grow beyond its current run rate and compete more effectively with, Microsoft, and to a lesser degree SAP. Forrester rated RightNow as a leader in our Forrester Wave™ for CRM and CRM customer service suites.  
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Getting The Customer Service Agent Experience Right Is Good For Business

Kate Leggett

There is an explosion of customer service products and services, and companies are turning to customer service as a way to differentiate themselves: 90% of customer service decision-makers tell Forrester that a good service experience is critical to their company's success, and 63% think the importance of the customer service experience has risen.

But we know that businesses must be pragmatic in choosing initiatives that will help deliver service in line with customer expectations, and at a cost that makes sense to the business.

Companies are looking at many ways to move the needle on customer service by leveraging the power of social media, mobile, and new cloud-based deployment methods. However, I hear few companies talking about what they are doing to optimize the customer service agent’s experience so that he can deliver better service to his customers.

Today, customer service agents use tens, if not hundreds, of disconnected systems to address a customer’s request. Have a look at the  example  of a desktop that Jacada gave me — lots of apps, and even some green-screen apps!

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BI In The Cloud: Separating Facts From Fiction

Boris Evelson

“… and they lived happily ever after.” This is the typical ending of most Hollywood movies, which is why I am not a big fan. I much prefer European or independent movies that leave it up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions. It’s just so much more realistic. Keep this in mind, please, as you read this blog, because its only purpose is to present my point of view on what’s happening in the cloud BI market, not to predict where it’s going. I’ll leave that up to your comments — just like your own thoughts and feelings after a good, thoughtful European or indie movie.

Market definition

First of all, let’s define the market. Unfortunately, the terms SaaS and cloud are often used synonymously and therefore, alas, incorrectly.

  • SaaS is just a licensing structure. Many vendors (open source, for example) offer SaaS software subscription models, which has nothing to do with cloud-based hosting.
  • Cloud, in my humble opinion, is all about multitenant software hosted on public or private clouds. It’s not about cloud hosting of traditional software innately architected for single tenancy.
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Oracle Leapfrogs BI Competitors By Acquiring Endeca

Boris Evelson

This is a very smart move by Oracle. Until the Siebel and Hyperion acquisitions, Oracle was not a leader in the BI and analytics space. Those acquisitions put them squarely in the top three together with IBM and SAP. However, until this morning, Oracle played mostly in the traditional BI space: reporting, querying, and analytics based on relational databases. But these mainstream relational databases are an awkward fit for BI. You can use them, but it requires lots of tuning and customization and constant optimization — which is difficult, time-consuming, and costly. Unfortunately, row-based RDBMSes like IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and Sybase ASE were originally designed and architected for transaction processing, not reporting and analysis. In order to tune such a RDBMS for BI usage, specifically data warehousing, architects usually:

  • Denormalize data models to optimize reporting and analysis.
  • Build indexes to optimize queries.
  • Build aggregate tables to optimize summary queries.
  • Build OLAP cubes to further optimize analytic queries.
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