Measure and improve contact center agent experience in order to improve customer experience

Ian Jacobs

Contact center agents have a huge impact on customer experience. Unhappy contact center agents equal unhappy customers. It's that simple. Contact center agents who feel disengaged, unhappy with their job or their lot in life, or are simply having a bad day can make a customer's contact center experience seem like root canal surgery. Given that, measuring how happy and engaged agents are and then improving the agent experience should be a priority for any company focused on driving improved customer experiences.

We’ve written before about the new breed of contact center agents and what types of tools they need to succeed at their job. Technology, however, represents just a piece of the puzzle. Firstly, not all contact center tools drive positive agent experience. For example, tools too focused on making the agent experience efficient risk allowing agents to just breeze through tasks and disengage their mind — and their judgment — from the processes of serving customers. Secondly, while tools are important, they are not the only issues that influence the agent experience.

Of course, improvement begins with measurement and benchmarking. Our research shows that, to date:

  • Agent surveys have not provided contact center pros the insight into agent experience they need. Using HR-style surveys turns up the usual array of woes: bad bosses, bad coworkers, or bad coffee. Contact center pros cannot tackle these issues, even though they may be important to the overall work environment. On the other hand, targeting surveys to technology issues provides actionable insights on how to improve the contact center experience.
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Is Your Business Ready For A Digital Acceleration Team?

Nigel Fenwick

Empowering a central team to set digital strategy, provide common platforms, and provide specialist resources can help business units develop their digital maturity by embracing a set of common standards while still tailoring their customer experience to their specific market needs. Yet many central teams run into difficulty. They fail to clearly communicate their purpose and remit, they struggle to navigate the realities of corporate politics, and they forget to demonstrate their successes through clear metrics. CIOs looking to accelerate their firm's digital journey by building a digital acceleration team should first assess their organization's readiness and appetite (see Figure).

Digital accelerator checklist

For more on establishing a digital acceleration team, see my latest research: Your Company Needs A Digital Acceleration Team.

Previus post: Four Strategy Tips In The Age Of The Customer

Nokia Takes Over Alcatel-Lucent: Get Ready For A Shift In The Global Network Solutions Vendor Landscape

Dan Bieler

Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent have entered into a memorandum of understanding under which Nokia will make an offer for Alcatel-Lucent in an all-share transaction. The deal values Alcatel-Lucent at €15.6 billion: Alcatel-Lucent shareholders will own 33.5%, with Nokia shareholders owning 66.5%.

Is this a “marriage of desperation” or two network solution vendors coming together to work on a broader vision for an increasingly connected world? The combination of two relatively small network solutions vendors won’t automatically translate into the formation of a new network solutions powerhouse. Most importantly, will the new Nokia truly differ from its main rivals Huawei and Ericsson as an end-to-end carrier network solution provider? Nokia’s competitors will not only face a larger new competitor but also experience the formation of a different one. This deal will mean that:

  • Nokia joins the small club of converged network solutions vendors. Customers expect experiences that support multiple screens and applications; equipment vendors must deliver solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial Internet requirements by offering next-generation network technology and services. Nokia can’t cater to this market demand alone.
  • Nokia rejoins the premier league of network solutions providers. The deal means that Nokia’s total pro-forma 2014 revenues will more than double to €25.9 billion. The new Nokia will be the second-largest provider of carrier-grade telecoms networking solutions, with revenues in this segment of €25.0 billion, just behind Ericsson (€25.1 billion) but ahead of Huawei (€23.5 billion). With its newfound size, Nokia will gain access to scale benefits.
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Four Strategy Tips In The Age Of The Customer

Nigel Fenwick

Blog word cloudI just concluded six months of research looking at how firms plan strategy in the age of the customer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I concluded that companies that fail to adapt to increasingly powerful customers, and disruptive competition, will not simply face near-term disruption — they risk their long-term viability.

I also found evidence of firms making changes in how they plan business strategy. High-performing companies look at strategic planning as a continuous process with a focus on customer value and loyalty.

In my latest report on strategy, I identify new responsibilities for CIOs, CMOs, and business-unit leaders in strategic planning. The report focuses on three ways CIOs and CMOs must step up and serve as a shaper of customer-obsessed business strategy that generates greater loyalty and drives better performance.

To succeed in the future, CIOs need to collaborate effectively with peers across the C-suite, especially the CMO and business-unit leaders, to build strategies and a shared business technology agenda, focused on customer outcomes.

Here are four tips from the research:

1.     It's time to separate strategic planning from the annual budget cycle. Annual strategic plans hold firms back from quickly reacting to fast-evolving markets. While strategies must be funded, continuous test-and-learn approaches will more quickly reveal opportunities and weaknesses.

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RSA Conference 2015 – What We Hope And What We Expect To Hear

Chris McClean

Forrester’s Security and Risk team will have a lot of analysts out once again for this year’s RSA Conference. After all these years (12 for me!) we have to balance our excitement to see old friends and colleagues with our cynicism that says it will be a week of empty buzzwords just slightly updated from those we heard last year.

We expect this to be mostly a fashion show – or what my old friend and colleague Rachel used to call the security industry’s debutante ball. We will hear far too many definitions for words like threat intelligence, platform, and integration; and we won’t hear the phrases case study examples, customer trust, or customer value nearly often enough.

But rather than dwell on our skepticism, here are a few things we’re excited about going into next week:

  • The Innovation Sandbox is always a highlight. Most of our team will come by to see the finalists on Monday, and you should look for our upcoming blog posts, tweets, and a report or two examining some of the vendors that have competed in this annual contest.
  • The expo dress code will be a whole lot classier. I’m personally glad to see RSA’s leadership with the new vendor dress code guidelines this year. (And kudos to our former colleague Chenxi Wang for her role in this change.) Hopefully that means everyone’s more focused on the substance of vendor messaging.
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Oracle Aims To Put “The Customer” At The Core Of The Oracle CX Cloud

Kate Leggett
This is a guest post by Fraser Tibbetts, Researcher on the AD&D team covering sales force automation software.
 
Oracle’s first ever Modern CX Conference in Las Vegas last week, with roughly 3,000 attendees, focused on Oracle’s vision for the CX Cloud suite of products. Instead of the usual focus on technology, executives focused on products that recognize how the customer has more power than ever. This aligns with Forrester's age of the customer research. It is encouraging to hear that same message from Oracle’s CEO, Mark Hurd, and from the Oracle product team leads.
 
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Contact Center And Customer Service Metrics Must Support Broader Company KPIs

Ian Jacobs

OK, it is certainly a cliché and clearly suffers from an incomplete view of the world, but many contact center executives would still nod their heads in agreement with the statement, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Contact centers generate a huge volume of data, and everyone from agents on the floor to CEOs in their corner offices would benefit from being presented with actionable analytics based on that data. However, turning that data consistently into actionable knowledge that is useful to improving performance remains challenging. The key questions for contact center professionals around this data are: 

  • What do you measure?
  • How do you present the data from those measurements?
  • What do you do with those measurements?
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Brand Resilience: Risk Pros' Key Role In Protecting Company Reputation

Nick Hayes

Risk professionals aren’t prepared for the age of the customer. Empowered consumers and changing market dynamics are upending longstanding business models and lines of operation, but risk professionals largely stand pat, and continue to neglect risks related to their organizations’ most critical asset – company reputation. Yesterday we published a report on "Brand Resilience" that will hopefully help you change that legacy risk mentality.

 

Corporate Reputation Is Increasingly Valuable…  

Companies today rely on their reputation to generate greater portions of their revenue, attract new customers, and retain existing ones. This is why we see:

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Three Tips To Craft A Better Digital Vision

Nigel Fenwick
In the age of the customer, your company must exploit digital assets in order to deliver world-class customer experiences and compete effectively. But moving the business from its traditional roots toward digital mastery requires the executive team to paint a compelling digital business vision.
 
Based on my latest research published in March — How To Craft A Better Digital Vision — here are three suggestions to help your firm develop a compelling digital vision:
 
1. Illustrate what customers will value in the future. The way your customers derive value from your products and services today will not be the same in the future. Your business will need to use digital technology to create new sources of value. Instead of simply designing a physical product or service to be used by a customer to satisfy a need, your firm must reimagine your products and services as digital services enhanced by physical products and people. Customer perceptions of value will be shaped by the digital experiences you create to help them achieve their desires. Your digital vision must help employees understand this shift.
 
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The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites For Midsize Organizations, Q1 2015

Kate Leggett

The CRM market for enterprise organizations has consolidated in the last five years. Similarly, there's been a lot of movement with CRM vendors that target mid-sized organizations. Here are a couple of examples of note: Microsoft, acquired Marketing Pilot in 2012 to round out its marketing capabilities, and Parature in 2014 to fill in customer service gaps. Aptean was formed as  a new company in 2012 by merging CDC Software and Consona. Infor acquired SalesLogix from Swiftpage in 2014, which had acquired it from the Sage Group in 2013. SAP released a brand new product in 2012 – Cloud for Customer – aimed at the high end of the midmarket and the enterprise.

At the same time that all these market movements are happening, we are seeing  new point solution vendors pop up at an unprecedented rate and are delivering modern interfaces and mobile-first strategies that address specific business problems such as sales performance management, lead to revenue management, and digital customer experience.

So, with the breadth of CRM capabilities available from vendor solutions, how do you choose what CRM best suits your needs? In the Forrester Wave: CRM Suites For Midsize Organizations, Q1 2015, we pinpoint the strengths of 10 leading vendors that offer solutions suitable for midsized teams. Here are some of our key findings:

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