Top Trends For Customer Service In 2017: Operations Become Smarter And More Strategic

Kate Leggett

In today's world, customers decide how customer-centric a company is. Good customer service should capture the fundamentals of a great experience: ease, effectiveness, and emotion

Looking ahead, Forrester sees 10 trends for 2017 that customer service professionals should take into account as they move the needle on the quality of service that they deliver: Here are six of them:

Customer service organizations address a smaller volume of simple voice-based customer contacts as they mature their self-service, automated engagement, and digital operations.

  • Trend No. 1: Companies extend and enhance self-service. Customers of all ages are moving away from using the phone to using self-service — web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots — as a first point of contact with a company Dimension Data reports growth in every digital channel and a 12% decrease in phone volume. In 2017: Customer service will continue to invest in structured knowledge management and leverage communities to extend the reach of curated content. Service will become more ubiquitous, via speech interfaces, devices with embedded knowledge, and wearables for service technicians.
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The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q4 2015

Kate Leggett

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.
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Realizing The Joint KANA-Verint Value Proposition Is A Work In Progress

Kate Leggett

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. 
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7-Part Series On Customer Service Technology, Part 3: What Are The Problems Caused By Current Customer Service Technology?

Kate Leggett

I’m back from maternity leave, so youll 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.

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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 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.

Part 2 reviewed 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.
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What I Have Learned Being A Customer Service Analyst

Kate Leggett

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:

  1. 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.
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