Contact center outsourcers move strongly to omnichannel—brands’ attitudes need to catch up to that change

Ian Jacobs

Contact center outsourcers have gotten a bum rap. Customers frustrated with offshore accents, agents with no power to actually solve problems, and overly scripted interactions have complained, sometimes loudly, about the practice. Comedians have mocked offshore agents, often mercilessly. In particular, the shared services outsourcing model in which a single agent supports multiple brands at the same time has come in for a real savaging. Check out this Funny or Die video for just one the literally dozens of such comedic rips on outsourcers. 

In many ways, brands set themselves up for such criticisms by focusing on outsourcing simply as a way to take costs out of their businesses. That focus on efficiency left little room for the types of excellent service that built customer loyalty. Today, however companies’ motivations for outsourcing customer support are changing and options for onshore or so-called near-shore outsourcing have expanded. Contact center outsourcing actually remains quite vibrant. For example, more than two-thirds of telecommunications technology decision-makers at companies with midsize or larger contact centers report they are interested in outsourcing some or all of their contact center seats or have already outsourced them. So, it is clear that outsourcing is not going away; brands, however, are starting to look at outsourcers for new types of interactions. 

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Systems Of Insight: Next Generation Business Intelligence

Boris Evelson

Earlier Generation BI Needs A Tune Up

Business intelligence has gone through multiple iterations in the past few decades. While BI's evolution has addressed some of the technology and process shortcomings of the earlier management information systems, BI teams still face challenges. Enterprises are transforming only 40% of their structured data and 31% of their unstructured data into information and insights. In addition, 63% of organizations still use spreadsheet-based applications for more than half of their decisions. Many earlier and current enterprise BI deployments:

  • Have hit the limits of scalability.
  • Struggle to address rapid changes in customer and regulatory requirements.
  • Fail to break through waterfall's design limitations.
  • Suffer from mismatched business and technology priorities and languages.
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When it Comes To Site Search, Don't Make Your Customers Play 'Hide-and-Seek'

Dominique Whittaker
Picture this: you're on a website looking for this must-have item for someone special and you know that the product exists on the website but every time you search for it you can't find it for the life you! If you've never had trouble searching for a product or information on a website---well, you're lying. We know that customers are demanding effective and relevant search results in addition to a easy-to-use interface. If they don't get it, they're likely to look elsewhere for what they need---and nobody wants that.
 
Site search sounds like a no-brainer functionality that every website has and is an easy thing to do but relatively few companies have actually mastered site search. Done well, it: 
 
  • Promotes customer self-service. If your visitors are able to successfully find what they need, then you’ve done your job while also deflecting calls away from the more expensive contact center.
  • Increases time-on-site. When customers find what they’re looking for in a painless manner, they’re more likely to spend more time on your site, looking for additional information or products. 
  • Provides overall better customer experiences. Let’s be honest, site search isn’t  top-of-mind. But if you can not only make the functionality an accurate, seamless experience for your visitors and provide recommended solutions based on search terms---well you’ve hit the site search jackpot. 
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The Mobile App Gap: Still A Billion Apps Short

Ted Schadler

Think 1.5 million apps is a lot? Pfffft. Netcraft reports 175 million active websites globally. Each one of those sites has many "apps" embedded in it -- one for shopping, one for service, one for each region or product line. I'm guessing we have a global app potential of 1 billion. 

The ancient elders of the web era -- vendors, webmasters, marketers, technology managers, agencies -- all appear to operate under the delusion that if they add responsive web templates to their site, they can make each of those billion experiences a mobile moment. Pfffft. They can't. Responsive web techniques are better than nothing -- at least Google will stop cramming your site to the bottom of the search list. But it's not enough to serve customers in their mobile moments of need.

To do that requires knowing exactly what someone needs, then creating the shortest path from I Want to I Get. And that means nailing the mobile moment.

We know already that people spend more time shopping on their smartphones than on computers. We know already that 70% of the traffic to Walmart.com around Black Friday 2014 came from mobile devices. We know already that 69 million Americans go online more often from smartphones than any other device. [Source: Forrester Research] 

Mobile is not an option. It's your reality. Mobile is as urgent for business customers and employees as for consumers. Here's what one manufacturer had to say: "Our customers look for us when they're installing our equipment in their datacenter. If we're not on their smartphone, then we don't exist." 

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To Be Customer-Obsessed, Firms Must Also Be Technology-Obsessed

Ted Schadler

There is much talk about being customer-obsessed. What does it take to be customer-obsessed?

Recently, in The New Yorker, Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power, a small energy company in Vermont, told a story of customer-obsession. Her customer-obsession starts simply: Help customers reduce their energy footprint at no net cost. Green Mountain accomplishes this by investing hugely in the latest and best technology, to pull electricity from the sun, insulate the bejesus out of the house, run massively efficient heat pumps, and micro-manage the draw on the power grid draw. Yes, the capital expenses and labor costs are immense. But when you reduce a home's energy footprint by 85%, you reduce the $250 electric bill by 85% -- or more than $25,000 over 10 years.

Green Mountain Power has a customer-obsessed culture and a customer-obsessed operating model. But it also has become expert in using technology to win, serve, and retain customers. The company is technology-obsessed, often out ahead of even the pundits when it comes to the latest technology. Green Mountain Power unites all three forces to be customer-obsessed: culture, operating model, technology.

The same is true for every company and government. Igniting a culture of customer experience is important. Relentlessly improving the operating model to put customers first is also important. But without the right customer-serving business technology in place, customers will be stuck with ancient web sites, cranky mobile apps, pathetic call centers, and disempowered employees.

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Rethinking Hybrid Development

John M. Wargo

A few weeks back I published a report entitled New Tools Make Hybrid Apps A Safer Bet. It’s my first report at Forrester, a brief on some of the changes happening in the hybrid application space and what they mean for application development and delivery (AD&D) pros. The topic is something I was noodling on before I joined Forrester and it was a natural topic for my first report.

I’ve been a contributor to the Apache Cordova project and written 4 books on the topic, and while a lot of developers are building hybrid apps using Cordova, broad adoption of the approach has been lacking. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of developers are using the framework, and there are a lot of apps out there, but we haven’t seen a lot of big name adoption. Developers eschew the hybrid approach for reasons both valid and invalid; recent changes in the hybrid space address some of those issues and should set the stage for broader adoption of hybrid. Check out the report and I would love to hear your feedback.

Introduction

John M. Wargo

As a recent addition to the Forrester Application Development and Delivery (AD&D) team, I thought I’d use my first post here to introduce myself.

I’ve been a professional software developer, in one capacity or another, for the entirety of my professional career. Like many others on this team, I’m a geek (not a nerd; yes, there is a difference) and very interested in anything related to software development, gadgets and especially mobile.

As part of the AD&D team, I’ll be focusing on Mobile development topics alongside my colleagues Jeffrey Hammond and Michael Facemire. Because of my experience with open source software, described below, I will be focusing some of my efforts on that space as well. Currently I’m working on updating some of the existing reports in the Mobile App Dev Playbook, the first of which will be published soon.

Before coming to Forrester, I was a product manager at SAP responsible for part of the SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) SDK. I owned the SMP Hybrid SDK (called Kapsel) and the SAP Fiori Client, a native mobile runtime for SAP Fiori. In the last ten years, I’ve held positions at BlackBerry, BoxTone (now part of Good Technology) and AT&T. While at AT&T, I focused primarily on mobile application platforms, achieving developer certification for several products in this space.

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Where Are You On The BT Transformation Journey?

Leonard Couture

The age of the customer offers a unique opportunity for CIOs to own their destiny.  The role of technology and information in helping enterprises win, serve and retain clients has never been more important.  As the leaders of the digital agenda for their enterprises, CIO and CTOs are the key drivers in improving how customers engage with your enterpriseWe call this focus the Business Technology (BT) agenda and there is a major shift going on to invest in both human and technical capital to address it. 

There are some simple guidelines to help measure where you are on the journey:

  • Where is your innovation happening?  Innovate at the point of customer interactions – digital value is determined by how used the innovation is.  There is no better way for CIOs to be part of the age of the customer than to deliver digital innovation when and where the customer needs it.  The complexity of how to build enterprise-wide digital engagement can only be answered by having a strong BT agenda powered by BT professionals who think and act in an agile, iterative manner.  Your customers will engage your enterprise in many different ways: if you are not building an adaptive experience for them they will move on no matter how good your products may be.  This type of measurement approach is critical to realizing the effect of the digital experience you are building. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is how your customers are engaging your enterprise.
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Everyone’s Talking — About Your Digital Experience (DX) Delivery Ability

Dominique Whittaker

There’s no denying the importance of delivering an excellent mobile experience. As the pace of technology quickens, delivery cycles approach zero-day releases, and mobile moments reign supreme more than ever so now is the time to invest in the right priorities.The results from our 2015 DX Survey provided a vivid picture of digital experience technology organizations’ interesting insights. More specifically:

 

  • Enterprises manage an average of 268 customer-facing websites. When you compare this to the number of websites on the Internet, it is no surprise. However, having too many cooks in the kitchen is, so to speak. Many large enterprises we’ve spoken with have stated they have as many as 10,000 content creators and users using their digital asset management system. Being able to manage the extensive portfolio and volume of content creators has been a challenge for DX organizations.

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Customer-Obsessed Technology Platforms: If You Don't Know, You're Doing IT Wrong

Michael Facemire
 
"I don't know about you people, but I don't want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do."
-- Gavin Belson, Silicon Valley
 
Writing software to make the world a better place -- that's a lofty goal, even for Gavin Belson on the HBO hit comedy, Silicon Valley. Yet why is it that we've spent years doing the exact opposite with software in enterprise IT? We've built applications to simply show data living in our data centers. Have a lot of products to sell? Put them all on a web page! Myriad of services you offer to your customers? Throw them all on that web page too! If they really want our help, they'll figure out what it all means, right?
 
Unfortunately this is a terrible way to create applications, regardless if it's on the web, mobile, or any other emerging digital channel. The data is good, but we cannot start with our data in mind -- instead we must start with our customers' needs in mind. But why this change and why now? Our customers (and increasingly our employees) are being presented with so many more options from your competitors, both those known today and tomorrow's digital startups. Simply put, the barrier to creating new software solutions is approaching zero. Making this transformation is central to the BT Agenda -- applying technology to win, serve, and retain customers.
 
 
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