The customer service vendor space is a mature space. Yet there have been many changes in the last five years and clearly more to come. Two driving factors will accelerate these changes:
Big fish eat little fish, and each bite broadens the reach of the big fish. The customer service market has consolidated in the last five years. Big vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP have made acquisitions to round out their core customer service or broader CRM portfolios.
Vendors from adjacent markets emerge as competitors. The most interesting disruptor to the current customer service market is coming from cloud contact center providers. They provide an end-to-end solution for customer service: a unified communications infrastructure, routing, and queuing engines for omnichannel interactions. Many offer integrated workforce optimization for agent quality management, scheduling, and forecasting. They also have lighter-weight agent desktops that can be easily hardened or acquired. These vendors were not included in this years wave, but they may well be candidates for the next evaluation round.
KANA Software (a Verint Company) was kind enough to invite me to their user conference on September 19-20. The event was packed with product, strategy, and customer information. A good number of industry- and independent analysts attended, including Forrester's Ian Jacobs. Here are my thoughts:
Software categories are ripe for consolidation, and the KANA-Verint combination is well positioned: There are three main technology categories that comprise a contact center: queueing and routing technologies; CRM, or agent desktop technologies and workforce optimization technologies. We have predicted that these technology categories will converge because (1) these are mature markets and vendors will move into adjacent spaces to increase market share and (2) companies are looking to simplify their technology ecosystem in order to improve the quality of service. The user conference did a good job at articulating the value of consolidating these spaces.
I’m back from maternity leave, so you’ll be hearing more regularly from me now . . .
. . . So, to continue my series on customer service — its value, the challenges in getting it right, and what you can do about it from a technology perspective — here is a quick recap of my two older posts, and a new one from today. Enjoy.
Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This series of seven blog posts focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.
Part 1reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.
Part 2reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.
Let’s now focus on the tactical outcomes of suboptimal customer service technology. Customer service organizations are struggling to:
Provide standardized customer service across communication channels. Transactional data and customer history are often inconsistent and not reliably available to agents across communication channels.
The anniversary of my two-year tenure at Forrester quietly snuck by me last week, and when I remembered about the milestone, it gave me pause to think about how much the customer service landscape has changed these past years and how quickly it keeps on changing. Here are my key thoughts:
The customer service landscape is complex. We mapped the maturity and business value of 24 key contact center technologies in our Forrester TechRadar™ on this topic and found a number of technologies – case management, channel management, WFM, IVR, etc. – at the peak of the maturity curve, which is no surprise given that contact center operations are focused on productivity and process optimization. However, there are newer technologies such as real-time decisioning, process guidance, interaction analytics, VOC, and social service that are starting to be leveraged by companies needing to differentiate themselves on customer experience. I expect to see an acceleration of technologies used in organizations outside of customer service to start being leveraged by contact centers.