Companies use complex software from different vendors to support customer service operations. They use:
Queuing and routing technologies. They capture the customer inquiry, which can be via voice, digital, or social channels, and route and queue the inquiry to the right agent pool.
CRM customer service technologies. They enable customer service agents to create and work the incoming service request.
Workforce optimization technologies. They record agent interactions with customers, evaluate the quality of these interactions, recommend targeted training based on quality scores, manage agent schedules, forecast future schedules and more.
This week Microsoft announced a new offering (available in the Fall): Microsoft Dynamics 365. Sound familiar? It should. Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics AX all come to mind, and this was not done by mistake. Microsoft is bringing together the capabilities from these products, their intelligence tools, and third party or internally-built apps from its newly launched AppSource. Microsoft will use Dynamics 365 to provide disaggregated applications that serve the functional needs formerly delivered through CRM and ERP suites (e.g. sales, service, marketing, operations, etc.) atop is a common application platform and data model.
So what is Microsoft looking to achieve with these changes? Well, business doesn’t end with a customer interaction, and delivering superior customer experiences doesn’t end at the front office. Front office and back office apps need to talk to one another to make sure companies are able to win, serve, and retain customers. Microsoft aims to:
Give employees access to the right data and tools to perform their jobs. By utilizing a common data model, Dynamics 365 will show a consolidated view of the customer, inclusive of transactional data. This consolidated view delivered in the context of business apps will provide marketing, sales, and service professionals the appropriate context and functionality to serve their customers.
Salesforce announced today their intent to acquire Demandware for $2.8 billion – its largest acquisition to date. This move adds commerce to its CRM portfolio. It's an acquisition long due, with the question of why it took Salesforce so long to fill their gaping hole in CRM functionality – commerce functionality that its formidable CRM competitors such as Oracle and SAP already have - and that Microsoft sorely lacks.
Demandware offers an enterprise cloud commerce suite (digital commerce, order management, point-of-sale, store operations), and together, in conjunction with other Salesforce clouds – marketing, sales, service, communities, analytics and IoT – allows companies to support the end-to-end customer journey which include scenarios like asking a product question during an online purchasing process, or purchase a purchase a product or service during an online customer service interaction.
The positives of this acquisitions are:
It's a software category with a bright future. The market for B2C commerce suite technology is mature, yet it is growing, and set to exceed more than $2.1 billion in the US alone by 2019. This acquisition allows Salesforce to tap into a growing market, and coupled with their IoT cloud, allows them to also explore personal, high touch retail experiences.
CRM technologies are more than two decades old. In the early days of CRM, companies leveraged these solutions to provide "inside-out" efficiencies - operational efficiencies for sales, marketing, and customer service organizations. CRM aggregated customer data, analyzed that data, and automated workflows for front line personnel. Companies could easily argue business benefits by measuring operational metrics that were important for the company - like reducing marketing costs, increasing revenues from salespeople, decreasing sale cycle times, better pipeline visibility, decreasing service resolution times, and more.
Today, being successful at CRM builds on yesterday's internal operational and extends the power of these solutions to better support customers through their end-to-end journey to garner their satisfaction and long-term loyalty — a “customer-first” or “outside-in” perspective.
Our data at Forrester shows that good customer experiences correlate to customer loyalty. And loyal customers are more willing to consider another purchase from a company, are less likely to switch business to a competitor, and are more likely to recommend to a friend or colleague – all dimensions that have a direct impact on top line revenue.
This a guest post by Meredith Cain, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.
As Francis Bacon wrote in 1625, “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” Although he did not write this with Facebook Messenger or customer service in mind, the meaning still applies. If customers will not come to your business, your business must go to the customers. In 2016, customer service application professionals struggle to find common ground where businesses can fulfill as many customers’ needs as possible in a seamless and timely manner. With one out of every nine people on the planet already using Facebook Messenger, businesses should start to capitalize on this consolidation of customers by adopting Messenger, rather than attempting to move the “mountain.”
In our recent report, we argue that customer service application professionals should make plans to incorporate Messenger into their service arsenal. Facebook’s recent announcement of new Messenger tools that include business-friendly innovations, as well as Facebook’s already ubiquitous user base, positions Messenger to serve as the bridge between Muhammad and the mountain. As this metaphorical bridge, Messenger provides customer service pros with:
Your customers just 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. Our data backs this up: 53% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can't find a quick answer to their question; 73% 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 wonder that customers increasingly leverage self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels for customer service, as these channels have the least amount of friction. Our recent data from December 2015 shows that:
Web and mobile self-service interactions overtake all other channels. For the second year running, survey respondents reported using web or mobile self-service more than speaking with an agent over the phone. Use of help or FAQs on a company's website increased from 67% in 2012 to 81% in 2015 among US online adults.
Welcome to my Forrester blog. My career has been a blend of business strategy and technology, whether it was preparing people and processes for new technology eras as a consultant or diving deep into the technology while working in business operations and application development for a CRM vendor. What may surprise many of you reading this is although my blog is new, I am not new to Forrester; I’ve been with Forrester for close to two years working with Application Development & Delivery leaders as an Advisor with Forrester’s Leadership Boards. In that role, I worked directly with 50+ enterprise-level leaders from across all verticals to help define their customer-obsessed strategies and identify the best and next practices to give them a competitive edge. It was this connection with clients around solving critical business problems and using technology to gain an edge that attracted me to research and more specifically, diving back into the world of CRM.
There’s a very large graveyard of failed CRM projects. There’s more CRM initiatives that have spiraled out of control to become multimillion-dollar investments that negatively affected large numbers of customer-facing employees and didnt deliver any real results. The cost of poor CRM adoption is twofold: underutilized investment and unmet business objectives.
We recently ran a survey in partnership with CustomerThink to understand the risks and pitfalls that CRM professions need to navigate to achieve a successful CRM technology project. We surveyed 414 individuals who had been involved in a CRM technology project as a business professional in sales, marketing, customer service, or technology management within the past 36 months. Not surprisingly, we found that successful CRM technology projects are not only about choosing the right software. They demand a balanced, multifaceted approach that addresses four critical fundamentals:
People issues.Nearly two-fifths (38%) of respondents stated that their problems were the result of people issues such as slow user adoption, inadequate attention paid to change management and training, and difficulties in aligning the organizational culture with new ways of working.
CRM Process. One-third (33%) of respondents faced problems because of poor or insufficient definition of business requirements, inadequate business process designs, and the need to customize solutions to fit unique organizational requirements.
CRM Strategy. One-third (33%) of respondents had challenges related to CRM strategy, such as a lack of clearly defined objectives, a lack of organizational readiness, and insufficient solution governancepractices.
In the age of the customer, executives don't decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do. And while good customer experiences can help control costs, executives are more interested in the potential for sustainable top-line growth.
Forrester defines CRM as:
The business processes and supporting technologies that support the key activities of targeting, acquiring, retaining, understanding, and collaborating with customers.
CRM is the foundational building block of a company's customer experience strategy to win, serve, and retain customers. It allows empowered consumers and connected employees to do business in ways we just couldn’t conceive of just a few years ago.
It’s a no-brainer that good customer service experiences boost satisfaction, loyalty, and can influence top line revenue. Good service — whether it's to answer a customer's question prior to purchase, or help a customer resolve an issue post-purchase should be easy, effective, and strive to create an emotional bond between the customer and the company. Here are 5 top trends - out of a total of 10 - that I am keeping my eye on. My full report highlighting all trends can be found here:
Trend 1: Companies Will Make Self Service Easier. In 2015, we found that web and mobile self-service interactions exceeded interactions over live-assist channels, which are increasingly used by customers as escalation paths to answer harder questions whose answers they can’t find online. In 2016, customer service organizations will make self-service easier for customers to use by shoring up its foundations and solidifying their knowledge-management strategy. They will start to explore virtual agents and communities to extend the reach of curated content. They will start embedding knowledge into devices — like Xerox does with its printers — or delivering it via wearables to a remote service technician.