Top Trends For CRM In 2017 - It's All About Differentiated (Digital) Experiences

Kate Leggett

We’re firmly in the age of the customer, where customers - not executives - decide how customer-centric their companies are. And while good customer experiences can help control costs, executives are more interested in their potential to fuel 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 enables new business strategies, integrates to many technologies and is constantly rejuvenated by new trends. Here are 4 of the 10 trends that we see in CRM in 2017.

Customers want to easily connect with, interact with, make purchases from, or get service from a company.  For example, 72% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing that a company can do to provide them with good service. Companies must offer customers ways to easily engage with them to foster an ongoing omnichannel dialogue and relationship that strengthen loyalty and retention. And they will reap the rewards: Omnichannel customers are more active, spend more, and are less expensive to support than single-channel customers.

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Want to Bridge Company Divisions? Just Say No To Silos.

Erna Alfred Liousas
Well fellow marketers, the beginning of 2017 has been fast and furious! I’m sure I’m amongst friends when I share my year-end was a combination of: wrapping up projects, supporting last minute revenue efforts, reviewing predictions for 2017, and saying goodbye to 2016 actions that should never be repeated. I'm proud to say,  now that 2017 is finally here, I’m doubling down on my “dismantle the silo” charge. And the reason is simple: customers.  We are running out of time and opportunities to grab and keep their attention.  They don’t have time or the desire to entertain disjointed experiences. Let’s face it, as customers ourselves, we feel the same. Now is the time to act, which means business units within organizations must join forces to create differentiated brand experiences.
 
My latest report written with my colleagues Ian Jacobs and Laura Naparstek , “Use Social To Bridge The Gap Between Marketing and Customer Service,” discusses the benefits a marketing and customer service pairing creates for customers and the brand.  Legacy silos prevent innovation and the cultivation of new internal connections. If we let these silos stand, we end up contributing to the negative customer experiences that happen when marketing and servicing don’t work together. So, keep the following in mind:
 
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Field Service: Increasingly Important For Differentiated Customer Service Experiences

Kate Leggett

Field service technologies are more than two decades old. Companies have leveraged them to coordinate the flow of work orders that came in as service requests to the contact center. They were able to reap real ROI by using these technologies to schedule technicians, manage their routes and their flow of work. 

Today, with the rise in importance of delivering differentiated customer experiences, field service technologies are become increasingly important. This is because, the service tech who ends up on your doorstep, or at the site of faulty equipment represents the face of your company. They are your brand ambassadors. These interactions are by far the most personal channel for customer engagement, and they can help make or break a relationship.

This means that: (1) you want to equip your service techs with all the information and data that they need to easily address the reported issue, and (2) you want to use cutting edge technologies to deliver great engagement.  These technologies include:

  • Mobility for field service effectiveness - Companies communicate to field techs, increasingly via mobile apps, the location, timing, and details of their jobs. They also allow techs to provide dynamic pricing of labor, parts, and products. Mobile applications must be easy for techs to use, often with gloved hands, in challenging conditions including low lighting and hazardous job sites. They must also work in disconnected environments.
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Video Helps Your Customers In Their Moment Of Need

Nick Barber

Your customers use apps like Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, and Facetime to hold video calls and you should be using video to connect with them, too. In our report Now You See Me — Video Chat Improves The Customer Experience we found that retail, financial services, healthcare, and other verticals embrace video chat as a way to serve customers in their time of need and as a way to drive measureable ROI.

The cultural and technology barriers to easy video chat have come down in recent years. A UK-based bank deployed video chat for its advisors to use with high net worth clients. These clients, who are typically older, are just as familiar with video calling as their younger cohorts--they use Skype and Facetime to talk to children and grandchildren. On the technology end, a key enabler for video chat is WebRTC, which allows browser-based video conversations without the requirement for downloading plugins. A key driver to adoption is reducing friction.

UK footwear retailer Schuh expanded video chat by deploying it to mobile and increasing the number of video agents by 20% in two years. Video is now Schuh’s busiest customer service channel, eclipsing phone and text chat.

Video chat is useful across the customer journey. Agents can answer questions about a product, they can use co-browsing to help a customer navigate a site or find an item and they can answer questions about how to use a product once purchased.

Video chat endpoints diagram

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The Democratization Of Customer Service Forces Vendor Consolidation

Kate Leggett

Today, customers expect easy, effective customer service which build positive emotional connections.  And they expect this type of service from all companies that they do business with – companies that are both big and small.  

Companies use complex software from different vendors to support customer service operations. They use:

  1. 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.
  2. CRM customer service technologies. They enable customer service agents to create and work the incoming service request.
  3. 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.
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Modern CRM Drives Engagement, Relationship And Revenue

Kate Leggett

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.

Because of this quantifiable return on investment (ROI), CRM became a must-have in large organizations and today more than 2/3 of large companies use CRM.

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.

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Facebook Messenger: The Future Of Customer Service?

Ian Jacobs

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:

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Your Customers Don't Want To Call You For Support

Kate Leggett

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. 
  • Other self-service channels are also on the rise. We see a rise in adoption across all self-service communication channels — not only web or mobile self-service. For example, fo US online adults, online forum/community use jumped from 31% in 2012 to 56% in 2015.
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Online Self Service Dominates Yet Again. Why? Its An Effortless Way To Get To Your Answers

Kate Leggett

Customers demand accurate, relevant, and complete answers to their questions upon first contact - served up as painlessly as possible -  so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose.

Forrester data backs this up: In our December 2015 "Customer Lifecycle Survey," we found that 53% of customers are likely to abandon their online purchases if they can't find quick answers to their questions. 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service. We also found that older customers are just as, if not more, intolerant to friction in their customer service interactions as younger consumers.

Customer service organizations have to deliver easy and effective service. If they don't, customers will leave the brand. They will also complain to their networks about their experience. These emotions can get rapidly amplified in the world of social media and ultimately lead to brand erosion.

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Forrester's Top Trends For Customer Service In 2016

Kate Leggett

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.

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