In 2011, organizations will ramp up their multichannel customer service initiatives. This will be harder to do than in the past, as customers now expect more: They are increasingly online, want self-service options, and demand responses in real time, often through their mobile devices. Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, has also grown to be an important new channel for interacting with customers and engaging in innovative ways.
Navigating the complex customer service solution ecosystem is difficult, as there are many good solutions available. One category of solutions to consider is the customer service capabilities provided by leading CRM suite software solutions providers. These vendors provide core customer service transactional and data management capabilities. There are also many specialty solution providers that provide best-of-breed capabilities that are good options to fill specific gaps in your customer service technology infrastructure.
To help you sort though the choices, I recently investigated 24 specialty customer service solution providers that offer solutions for cross-channel interaction management, knowledge management for customer service, business process management for customer service, customer communities, and customer feedback management, both traditional and via social listening platforms. In summary, I found that:
eGain, Genesys, Moxie, Parature, and RightNow offer mature and comprehensive solutions for multichannel management. LivePerson and FrontRange also provide multichannel communications capabilities, if your needs match their offering.
I love reporters. As someone with an M.A. in journalism who then evolved into an analyst, I recognize that both professions occupy approximately the same tier in the industry food chain. In fact, many IT industry analysts were trade press reporters at one point in their careers, and it’s not uncommon for analysts to go back into media institutions later on.
When great longtime IT reporters, such as Computerworld’s Jaikumar Vijayan, call me up to get my thoughts, I’m just as interested in their take on what’s important. Jai recently published an excellent article with my predictions, plus those of another analyst, on the year ahead in analytics. To the jaded reader, these sorts of year-end look-ahead articles may feel like perfunctory rehashes of stuff we’ve been telling them for quite some time, perhaps with a trendy new buzzword thrown in to keep it remotely glance-worthy.
I try not to repeat myself too much. Rather than regurgitate the statements I made in the phone interview with Jai, I’ll highlight how I’m addressing the principal business-analytics trends that I discussed with him — self-service, pervasive, social, scalable, cloud, and real-time—in our 2011 Forrester research agenda:
With 2011 still bright and full of hope for most of us, what are the key trends that customer service professionals need to pay attention to as you plan for success this year?
Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report will be published in January.
Trend 1: Organizations Standardize Customer Service Across Communication Channels
In 2011 and beyond, customer service management professionals will continue to work on standardizing the resolution process and customer service experience across communication channels (e.g., web self-service, chat, email, Twitter, phone).
Trend 2: The Universal Customer History Record Becomes A Reality