Consumer Expectations For Customer Service Don't Match What Companies Deliver

Kate Leggett

Customers want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact, so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Forrester data shows that 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question; 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.

It's no surprise that our recent survey data shows that customers of all ages are increasingly using self-service channels (web, mobile, IVR)  for a first point of contact for customer service. In fact, for the first time in the history of our survey, respondents reported using the FAQ pages on a company's website more often than speaking with an agent over the phone. Self-service gives you that "pain-free" experience that consumers want. Customers escalate the harder questions to a live agent - whether its chat, email or a phone agent - and these calls become opportunities to help build stronger relationships with your customers to garner their long-term loyalty.

What is comforting is that the 2015 survey results from Dimension Data is saying the same thing too. This report is based on responses from over 900 global contact center decision makers covering 12 industry verticals. Some of their key findings say that "Customers want a frictionless, easy, and immediate journey on channels of their choice. They want a connected omnichannel journey across channels. Complexity levels are intensifying as contact centers evolve into channel resolution hubs."

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"Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match......." Behavioral analytics improves connecting contact center agents to customers

Art Schoeller

In the Tony Award-winning musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye, the father of five daughters, bemoaned the erosion of tradition where his daughters wanted to marry for love instead of cultural preservation. The cultural norm was to make use of a matchmaker to seek out mates that satisfied familial desires and goals on both sides. In similar fashion, more traditional queuing and routing schemes used in contact centers may get a customer to a qualified agent, but their style and approach may not produce the “magic moment” of a highly satisfying interaction.

Today, advances in processing power, software algorithms, and availability of consumer information have come together to allow for a more advanced method of matching agents with callers. Behavioral analytics applies models of behavioral styles, tracks successful matches that drive better interaction outcomes, and provides an ongoing feedback loop to tune the model for each enterprise. Case studies from Mattersight and Satmap, two vendors who specialize in this software, have demonstrated uplifts in revenues and positive impacts on handle time and customer satisfaction.

Satmap helped one of the largest telecommunications carriers in the United States boost sales conversion rates by 6%, driving $100 million in incremental revenue over a two-year period. The trial included alternating periods of turning Satmap on, and then off, to provide outcome comparisons.

CVS Caremark adopted Mattersight Predictive Behavioral Routing and was able to drive an 8.4% reduction in average talk time during their proof of concept trial. CVS is also using the data to better target training and coaching to agents.

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All Broadband Is Local

Ted Schadler

All broadband is local. If the Internet pipe that reaches your home or small business is too slow (or too expensive), then all the net neutrality regulations in the land won't help citizens avoid the Netflix spinning wheel (or the logy load times of valuable Internet services for education, employment, communications, and banking).

Companies -- both technology leaders and marketing leaders -- should care about the quality of broadband to homes and small businesses. Why? Because your ability to deliver great digital customer experiences is hampered when broadband speeds are low. 

I'm all in favor of a robust national discussion about net neutrality, particularly if the discussion balances market conditions for Internet services against market conditions for broadband providers, a challenge that begins with transparency and competition rather than controls. (See this for some ideas on the importance of transparency, market forces, and local competition.)

And I'm certainly massively in favor of Internet-driven "human rights, innovation, and progress" as Tim Berners-Lee espouses. But I am not convinced that over-regulating our country's Internet pipes will solve our spinning wheel problems. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why did the Internet at home slow to a crawl during the Boston blizzards?
  • Why does Google invest some of its massive profits to provide 100 gigabit bandwidth to homes in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, with 34 more cities coming?
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Start Planning To Provide Social Customer Support Beyond Twitter and Facebook

Ian Jacobs

Industry analysts travel—a lot. It is, therefore, no surprise that I care deeply about airlines’ frequent flyer programs and track the changes to those programs as closely as baseball obsessives track star players’ slugging percentages. When I want information on what these changes mean practically in my situation (Will the new loyalty program make it harder for a 75k+ elite member looking to book a companion ticket’s upgrade on an alliance partner airline, for example), I typically do not turn directly to the airline. Instead, I log on to Flyertalk, a forum that bills itself as “the largest expert travel community.” The forum—populated by thousands of frequent fliers far more obsessive than I will ever be—consistently houses discussions of exactly the thing I want to know.

The lion’s share of people answering questions on Flyertalk and other forums like it—Cruisecritic for the cruising fans, TripAdvisor for travel and hospitality broadly, AutomotiveForums for car enthusiasts, etc.—are other consumers, albeit well-informed ones. But these non-brand controlled communities provide opportunities to brands to differentiate themselves through service.  Because affinity communities have barriers to entry, including registrations and jargon, community members are usually deeply interested in the topic at hand. In communities that regularly discuss brands, these customers are also more likely to be exactly the type of high-value customers that companies want to provide with great customer experiences. But brands need to decide when and how to engage customers in these forums they do not control.

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Apache Spark's Marriage To Hadoop Will Be Bigger Than Kim And Kanye

Mike Gualtieri
  • Apache Spark is an open source cluster computing platform designed to process big data as efficiently as possible. Sound familiar? That's what Hadoop is designed to do. However, these are distinctly different, but complementary, platforms. Hadoop is designed to process large volumes of data that lives in an Hadoop distributed file system (HDFS). Spark is also designed to process large volumes of data, but much more efficiently than MapReduce, in part, by caching data in-memory. But, to say that Spark is just an in-memory data processing platform is a gross oversimplification and a common misconception. It also has a unique development framework that simplifies the development and efficiency of data processing jobs. You'll often hear Hadoop and Spark mentioned in the same breath. That's because, although they are independent platforms in their own right, they have an evolving, symbiotic relationship. Application development and delivery professionals (AD&D) must understand the key differences and synergies between this next-generation cluster-computing power couple to make informed decisions about their big data strategy and investments. Forrester clients can read the full report explaining the difference and synergies here: Apache Spark Is Powerful And Promising
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With So Much Commoditization In The CRM Landscape, How Do You Choose The Right CRM?

Kate Leggett

I have been working on evaluating a range of vendors for the CRM Wave which will be published in March. What I am seeing is that core CRM capabilities are very, very commoditized. Just about every vendor can check the box on core SFA and marketing automation features. There's a bit more difference if you look at customer service capabilities over social, digital and self service channels but all evaluated vendors handle core case management adequately. So what does this mean to the buyer who is looking for a CRM?

  • Choose a solution that is right-sized for your business. Some CRM vendors target the complex, global enterprise. These solutions are typically heavyweight and replete with features that are often customized to meet specific business requirements. Other CRM vendors target small to midsize organizations with a breath, but not necessarily a depth of capabilties. For smaller organizations too many features are often an overkill for organizations with lightweight needs, so make sure you understand the target user of the CRMs under evaluation.
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It's Not Your Grandfather's Open Source BI Market Any Longer

Boris Evelson

There's never been a question on the advantages of open source software. Crowdsourcing, vendor independence, ability to see and in some cases control the source code, and lower costs are just a few benefits of open source software (OSS) and business model. Linux and Apache Hadoop are prime examples of successful OSS projects. It's a different story, however, when it comes to OSS BI. For years, OSS BI vendors struggled with growth because of:


  • The developer-centric nature of open source projects. The target audience for open source projects is developers, which means deals are mostly sealed by technology management. The industry, on the other hand, has gravitated toward business decision-makers within organizations over the last several years. However, business users are less interested in the opportunities that a collaborative open source community offers, and more concerned about ease of use and quick setup. Indeed, Forrester's research constantly finds evidence correlating business ownership as one of the key success factors for effective BI initiatives.
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Join Our 2015 Digital Experience Delivery Survey

Anjali Yakkundi

Mark Grannan, Ted Schadler, Stephen Powers, and I recently launched our annual survey on delivering customer-facing web and mobile initiatives. If you're someone who is involved in delivering your firms web and mobile experience, we'd love to have you participate in this survey. If you're a vendor or services firm, we encourage you to circulate this survey to your customers or prospects! 

What do we hope to explore in this survey? Some of the questions we’d like to get answers to include:

  • What projects (if any) you have planned for this year.
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Understand The Promise Of Real-time Speech Analytics To Prepare To Overcome A (Large) Budget Hurdle

Ian Jacobs

“With the gift of listening comes the gift of healing.”

-Catherine de Hueck Doherty

We’ve all heard the canned notifications when we call companies for customer service: “this call may be recorded for security or quality purposes.” Most customer service organizations today record their phone interactions with their customers. Often those recordings just sit untouched on the digital equivalent of a dusty shelf in a storage closet. The recordings are there to ensure regulatory compliance or, in rare cases, to be pulled off the shelf in case of a major dispute with a customer.  In essence, the part of the notification about security rings true; the quality part, not so much.

But, as part of continuous improvement programs, companies have begun to change that by actually analyzing the recordings for quality purposes. That process of quality monitoring allows firms to select recordings for review and assessment. In forward-thinking organizations, the tools enable managers to replay agent screen actions, allowing evaluations to include screen activity in addition to voice content. Managers use these reviews to pinpoint which agents perform well, which need further training, and to identify processes that need to be refined.

Companies doing this basic form of quality monitoring, however, find they cannot change the outcome of those calls — the interactions are long since over. This is where the emerging field of real-time speech analytics comes into play. Vendors of real-time speech analytics tools promise to allow companies to intervene at the moment of truth, while the customer and the contact center agent are still talking.

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Build An Agile BI Organization

Boris Evelson

The battle of trying to apply traditional waterfall software development life-cycle (SDLC) methodology and project management to Business Intelligence (BI) has already been fought — and largely lost. These approaches and best practices, which apply to most other enterprise applications, work well in some cases, as with very well-defined and stable BI capabilities like tax or regulatory reporting. Mission-critical, enterprise-grade BI apps can also have a reasonably long shelf life of a year or more. But these best practices do not work for the majority of BI strategies, where requirements change much faster than these traditional approaches can support; by the time a traditional BI application development team rolls out what it thought was a well-designed BI application, it's too late. As a result, BI pros need to move beyond earlier-generation BI support organizations to:

  • Focus on business outcomes, not just technologies. Earlier-generation BI programs lacked an "outputs first" mentality. Those projects employed bottom-up approaches that focused on the program and technology first, leaving clients without the proper outputs that they needed to manage the business. Organizations should use a top-down approach that defines key performance indicators, metrics, and measures that align with the business strategy. They must first stop and determine the population of information required to manage the business and then address technology and data needs.
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