Customer Service: Out With The Old . . . And In With The New

Customers dream about personalized, contextual, proactive customer service experiences — where companies deliver an experience tailored to their persona, their past purchase history, and their past customer service history. They want each interaction to add value and build upon prior ones so that they don’t have to repeat themselves and restart the discovery process. They want to be able to choose the communication channel and device they use to interact with a service center. They want to start an interaction on one channel or device and move it seamlessly to another. Check out RightNow’s vision video that brings these points to life.

Most customer service organizations are still struggling with the basics — the hygiene factors in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — in meeting their customers’ expectations. There are benchmarking tools that you can use to figure out how well your organization is doing and to get actionable recommendations on how to do better. But, as you focus on the tactical improvements that you need to make this year, it’s important to keep tabs on the optimal experience that customers would like you to deliver to help shape your long-term direction for customer service. Here’s my abbreviated personal list:

Out with the old . . .

. . . and in with the new

Commentary

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Forrester's Top 15 Trends For Customer Service In 2012

With 2012 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. Get my full report here.

Leaders Will Empower Their Agents To Deliver Optimal Service

Trend 1: Organizations Will Internalize The Importance Of The Universal Customer History Record

Customer service agents must have access to the full history of a customer’s prior interactions over all the communication channels — voice, electronic channels like chat and email, and the newer social channels like Facebook and Twitter — to deliver personalized service and to strengthen the relationship that customers have with companies. In 2012, vendors will continue to add  the management of social channels to their customer service products. Companies will slowly continue to formalize the business processes and governance structures around managing social inquiries and move this responsibility out of marketing departments and into customer service centers.

Trend 2: The Agent Experience Will No Longer Be An Afterthought

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MDM In 2012: What Was, What Will Be . . . And What Won’t Be

Happy New Year! As we kick off 2012, I’d like to reflect on what was accomplished during the past year in the “trusted data” areas of master data management (MDM), data quality (DQ), and data governance and consider what we might expect in the year to come. I also hear quite a bit of noise from vendors and analysts alike about what they want the MDM market to be in 2012, so I wanted to share my thoughts on what’s real and what (in my opinion) remains hype. 

I also just completed Forrester’s December 2011 Global MDM Survey of 274 MDM professionals. While the majority of those results will be shared in the annual MDM Trends research that I’ll be publishing later in Q1, here’s a taste of some of the intriguing results.

Let’s first reflect on what I’ve witnessed from my clients MDM journeys throughout 2011:

  • Data governance remained a challenge. In the abovementioned MDM survey, only 20% responded that they have a high or very high level of data governance maturity, indicating that significant work remains. But on the positive side, I’m witnessing increasing business sponsorship and prioritization, which has helped many organizations pilot programs to cut their teeth and build some repeatable processes, foundational policies, and early measurements to start building a case to increase data governance investment and momentum.
  • Multidomain MDM hit its stride. User interest in multidomain MDM strategies has finally caught up with vendors’ product capabilities and messaging. In Forrester’s MDM Survey, 47% responded that the scope of their MDM programs include more than two data domains to master, while another 9% are focused on dual-domain solutions (e.g, customer and product).
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