Forrester's Top Trends For Customer Service In 2014

Kate Leggett

In the Age Of The Customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are – customers. In an attempt to move the needle on customer service operations, in order to keep customers satisfied and loyal to your brand, these are the top trends that you should be paying attention to. You can get my full report here.

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Trend 1: Customers Demand Omnichannel Service

Customers want to use a breadth of communication channels for customer service. Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, chat and email. In addition, channel usage rates are quickly changing. Customers want consistent service experiences across these channels. They also expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another. In 2014 and beyond, customer service professionals will work on better understanding the channel preference of their customer base, and guiding customers to the right channel based on their on the complexity and time-sensitivity of their inquiry.

Trend 2: Customer Service Will Adopt a Mobile-First Mindset

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Verint Acquires KANA And Ushers In The Next Wave Of Consolidation In The Greater Customer Service Space

Kate Leggett

Today's news of  Verint's  intent to acquire KANA ushers a new wave of consolidation in the greater customer service space. Today’s customer service technology ecosystem is complex and comprised of a great number of vendors that provide overlapping and competing capabilities. I’ve previously blogged about what these critical software components are.  In a nutshell, the core capabilities needed for customer service include:

  • Routing and queuing: providing the ability to route and queue an inquiry – whether voice, digital (ex. email, chat), or social to an agent or a group of agents
  • Agent desktop/case management: Allowing cases to be created, workflowed, and resolved.
  • Workforce management and optimization: Allowing agent interactions with customers to be monitored for quality; allowing agent scheduling, forecasting, performance management, coaching, learning etc.
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Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum Is Coming To London November 19th and 20th!

Harley Manning

Although it seems like Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West in Los Angeles just happened, we’re now just three weeks away from Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA in London.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about how the London event is shaping up.

On second thought, I can tell you. Read on!

This year’s theme is “Boost Your Customer Experience To The Next Level.” What’s that about? Well, we know from our research that companies are at wildly varying levels of customer experience maturity, ranging from not having gotten started yet to pulling even further ahead of competitors through CX differentiation. That’s why we’ve tailored this event to show attendees the one sure path to CX maturity and provide detailed guidance on how to advance along that path.

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7-Part Series On Customer Service Technology, Part 5: Technology Maturity

Kate Leggett

Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This seven-post series focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.

Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.

Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.

Part 3 reviewed the tactical outcomes of poor customer service.

Part 4 focused on the ways that the customer service technology ecosystem is changing.

Let’s now focus on the how we categorize customer service technologies by their maturity and business value delivered.

 

Technology ecosystem phase

Technologies for customer service

Why technologies are categorized in  this way

Survival

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Forrester Data Shows An Explosion Of Channels For Customer Service With Inconsistent Satisfaction Ratings

Kate Leggett

We know that consumer preferences for customer service channels are rapidly changing. And it’s not just the younger generation of consumers — there’s disruption and change across all ages and  demographics. Our 2013 data about communication channels that customers use for customer service is available in my lastest report, and key data points from this report can be found in my latest blog post. Key takeaways are:

  • Consumers want to use more, rather than fewer communication channels for customer service.
  • Consumers are using a set of new channels were not statistically significantly used 3 years ago. For example: SMS, click to call, screen sharing, virtual agents
  • Online and digital communication channels are becoming increasingly utilized for customer service
  • Voice is still the most widely used channel, with a 73% utilization rate. This percentage has not changed in the last 3 years.
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Communication Channel Preferences For Customer Service Are Rapidly Changing. Do You Know What Your Customers Need?

Kate Leggett

Consumers’ preferences for customer service channels are rapidly changing. And it’s not just the younger generation of consumers — there’s disruption and change across all ages and  demographics. Our 2013 data about communication channels that customers use for customer service is available in my latest report. Here are some key data points:

  • Customers want companies to value their time. 71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
  • Voice is the most used communication channel for service. Voice, which 73% of customers use for customer service, is still the most widely used channel. However, web self-service and digital channels like chat and email are following close behind.
  • Chat is increasingly popular. Online chat adoption among customers has risen from 30% in 2009 to 43% in 2012. In addition, it has the highest satisfaction rating of any channel used, after voice.
  • The demise of email is premature. Email remains the third most widely used communication channel among US online adults. In the past three years, email usage has increased by two percentage points, from 56% to 58%.
  • Social channels are increasingly important. Online communities and Twitter have seen increases in usage rates in the past three years. However, satisfaction remains low for these channels, as companies have not invested in best practices for managing interactions on these channels.
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Four Steps For Optimizing Customer Service Operations

Kate Leggett

This post originally appeared on destinationCRM.

 

Customers want efficient, effortless service from the touchpoint and communication channel of their choice. They want to receive accurate, relevant, and complete answers to their questions upon first contact with a company. Forrester data backs this up: Sixty-six percent of customers agree that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service. Forty-five percent of US online adults will abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

Why is it so important to deliver on customer expectations?  Customer satisfaction correlates to customer loyalty, and loyalty has economic benefits. Forrester calculates that a 10-percentage-point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion in revenue. Conversely, poor customer experiences are costly: Our data shows that 75% of consumers move to another channel when online service fails, which can incur a cost of many millions of dollars.

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Build, Buy, Or Outsource Customer Service Solutions? Here's An Approach To Help You Decide

Kate Leggett

How do you choose the right customer service solution for your needs? It’s always best to take a systematic approach: (1) benchmark your current operations using our Assessment Framework to pinpoint areas for opportunity and (2) pragmatically investigate options to source your missing capabilities. Options range from repurposing technologies used elsewhere in your company, to outsourcing, to purchasing suites or vendor point solutions. I recommend using the following process to step through the choices: 

  • Step 1: See if your company is using similar technologies that you can leverage. Web self-service, mobile, social, email, and chat solutions, for example, are often deployed by sales and marketing. If you choose to leverage existing technologies, make sure that they can scale and operate at the level of performance and reliability to support customer service operations. Also make sure that the experience that the customer receives when interacting with these technologies is consistent across functional organizations.
  • Step 2: Consider outsourcing. If there are no existing technologies that you can leverage, consider outsourcing this entire capability, or perhaps a portion or all of your customer service operations, to a third-party organization. In a recent Forrester survey, we found that 10% have already outsourced some or all of their operations or are very interested in doing so. Outsourcing can help reduce cost of operations, but can also improve the quality of services delivered and allow you to focus on core business activities that are mission-critical to your company.
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How To Build A Business Case For Customer Service Investments

Kate Leggett

We know that investing in customer service is good for business and can positively impact your revenue. However, building a business case for customer service investments is challenging, as you must understand the benefits and associated costs of the investments.

For some customer service technologies, such as workforce management, email, and chat, the business benefits are very clear. For other customer service technologies, such as social customer service or knowledge management, the business benefits are more difficult to precisely quantify. Yet in all cases, business benefits fall into one of three categories: reducing operational costs, improving productivity, or enhancing the customer experience. Examples include:

 

Technology

Business benefit

 

Reducing operational costs by…

Improving agent productivity by…

Increasing customer satisfaction by…

Chat

- Resolving customer issues with shorter average speeds to answer (ASA)

- Reducing the average interaction cost

Reducing re-contact rates

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Customer Service Tips For Today's Digital World

Kate Leggett

Today, the gap between customers’ expectations and the service they receive can be huge. There’s an explosion of communication channels that customers use—voice, digital channels like email and chat, and social channels like Facebook and Twitter. There’s also an explosion of touchpoints, like smartphones, tablets, and self-service kiosks. Customers expect efficient, consistent, personalized service experiences across these channels and touchpoints.

There’s no denying that mastering the service experience is hard to do. Yet focusing on leveraging digital channels is one way customer service leaders can move the needle on customer experiences.

Here’s how:

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