Getting The Customer Service Agent Experience Right Is Good For Business

Kate Leggett

There is an explosion of customer service products and services, and companies are turning to customer service as a way to differentiate themselves: 90% of customer service decision-makers tell Forrester that a good service experience is critical to their company's success, and 63% think the importance of the customer service experience has risen.

But we know that businesses must be pragmatic in choosing initiatives that will help deliver service in line with customer expectations, and at a cost that makes sense to the business.

Companies are looking at many ways to move the needle on customer service by leveraging the power of social media, mobile, and new cloud-based deployment methods. However, I hear few companies talking about what they are doing to optimize the customer service agent’s experience so that he can deliver better service to his customers.

Today, customer service agents use tens, if not hundreds, of disconnected systems to address a customer’s request. Have a look at the  example  of a desktop that Jacada gave me — lots of apps, and even some green-screen apps!

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Ready, Fire, Aim! With Client Virtualization, Are You As Ready As You Think?

David Johnson

Michael Masterson's book "Ready, Fire, Aim" is one of my favorites. Masterson, a serial entrepreneur who has built dozens of businesses, some to $100 million in revenue and beyond, explains that the biggest determiner between success and failure is how quickly we get going and execute…even if the plan isn't perfect. Spot on!

But, Masterson also takes great care to explain how critical (and often misunderstood) being truly "ready" is, and that "firing" without actually being ready is as bad as if not worse than delaying for perfection. So what do we do? Where do we draw the line when it comes to projects like client virtualization, with hundreds of moving parts, politics galore, and very little objective, unbiased information available?

Answer: The winners will get going today…now...and will get ready by talking to the people their work will ultimately serve, and learn enough about their needs and the technology and best practices to avoid the mistakes most likely to result in failure -- knowledge that they will acquire in less than 90 days. The fire process starts the moment they make an investment in new people or technology, and the aiming process continues through the life cycle of the service, steadily improving in value, effectiveness, and efficiency.

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How To Avoid The Mobile Goat Rodeo

Ted Schadler

Mobility in the enterprise is a goat rodeo waiting to happen. Are any of these things going on in your company?

  • Building customer mobile apps that don't tie into the .com site.
  • Coding for iPhones while leaving Android phones unserved.
  • Forcing a session login to a mobile collaboration app that keeps employees from bothering.
  • Locking down employee devices when email is the only app on it.
  • Failing to have the network and hardware to handle an explosion in transaction volume.

If so, you're not alone. It's natural in a fast-moving environment to tackle things piecemeal in the hope that you can handle the problems later. But that approach leads to chaos and confusion and lack of coordination. And that can lead to huge problems that are happening already or are lurking just behind the goat rodeo gate.

It's time to take a deep breath, call an offsite meeting, and put a mobile strategy playbook together. In a recent report for Forrester customers, Building An Operations Stairway To The Mobile Future, my colleagues and I mashed together seven things that have to come together to make mobile operations work. It's not the full chapter list in the playbook, but it's a good operational start.

BI In The Cloud: Separating Facts From Fiction

Boris Evelson

“… and they lived happily ever after.” This is the typical ending of most Hollywood movies, which is why I am not a big fan. I much prefer European or independent movies that leave it up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions. It’s just so much more realistic. Keep this in mind, please, as you read this blog, because its only purpose is to present my point of view on what’s happening in the cloud BI market, not to predict where it’s going. I’ll leave that up to your comments — just like your own thoughts and feelings after a good, thoughtful European or indie movie.

Market definition

First of all, let’s define the market. Unfortunately, the terms SaaS and cloud are often used synonymously and therefore, alas, incorrectly.

  • SaaS is just a licensing structure. Many vendors (open source, for example) offer SaaS software subscription models, which has nothing to do with cloud-based hosting.
  • Cloud, in my humble opinion, is all about multitenant software hosted on public or private clouds. It’s not about cloud hosting of traditional software innately architected for single tenancy.
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Security and Operations Have More In Common Than You Think

Glenn O'Donnell

There is growing evidence of a harmonic convergence of Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) with Security and it is hardly an accident. We often view them as separate worlds, but it’s obvious that they have more in common than they have differences. I live in the I&O team here at Forrester, but I get pulled into many discussions that would be classified as “security” topics. Examples include compliance analysis of configuration data and process discipline to prevent mistakes. Similarly, our Security analysts get pulled into process discussions and other topics that encroach into Operations territory. This is as it should be.

Some examples of where common DNA between I&O and Security can benefit you and your organization are:

  • Gain economic benefit by cross-pollinating skills, tools, and organizational entities
  • Improve service quality AND security with the same actions and strategies
  • Learn where the two SHOULD remain separate
  • Combine operational NOC and security SOC monitoring into a unified command center
  • Develop a plan and the economic and political justifications for intelligent combinations
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Let's Redefine The Term "Business Service" To Address Real Business And IT Needs

Henry Peyret

IT has too many separate portfolios to manage, and that hinders its ability to help business change. We have project portfolios, application portfolios, technology portfolios, and IT service portfolios – each managed in silos. These portfolios are all IT-centric – they generally mean nothing to business leaders. The business has products, customers, partners, and processes – and the connection between these business portfolios and the IT portfolios isn't readily apparent and usually not even documented. Change in the business – in any of these areas – is connected to IT only in the requirements document of a siloed project. Lots of requirement documents for lots of siloed projects leads to more complexity and less ability to support business change. 

How do we connect these business concepts to IT? What's the "unit" that connects IT projects, apps, and technology with business processes and products? 

It's not "business capabilities" – they are an abstraction most useful for prioritizing, analysis, and planning. We need a term to manage the day-to-day adaptation and implementation of these capabilities – the implementation with all its messiness such as fragmented processes and redundant apps – that we can use to manage any type of change. 

We believe the best term for this unit is "business services," with this definition:

The output of a business capability with links to the implementation of people, processes, information, and technology necessary to provide that output.

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The Top Technology Trends For The Next Three Years (Part 2)

Brian  Hopkins

As promised in my blog last week, here is part 2. In part 1, I introduced the two trends reports we did this year and showed the list of trends for business technology. These are trends and technologies to consider first with your "business hat" on. This blog post lists the other 10 trends to view first from a technology lens because they are of lower interest or impact to the business.

We have created four new categories to make IT stakeholder identification easier: 1) application platforms will be of high interest to your app dev and management teams; 2) integration will be of interest to app dev, data integration specialists, and even process folks (considering that processes can and should be integrated with apps and data); 3) infrastructure and operations; and 4) mobile computing, which spans infrastructure, app dev, and possibly line-of-business relationship managers who are very keen on mobility. And don't forget your security and compliance stakeholders, who will generally care about all of these!

Before listing the trends and technologies, I also want to introduce a new twist to our research this year - we have identified four major themes that run through many of our business technology and technology trends. These themes are so broad and far reaching that we thought it worth calling them out separately; we are advising our clients to understand these themes as the context for responding to individual trends:

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What Do You Mean When You Call A Supplier A “Strategic Partner”?

Duncan Jones

I handle many inquiry calls from clients asking for help negotiating with large suppliers, and often they claim the supplier is a strategic partner. I’ve noticed that many clients use that term, but when I ask them what it actually means in practice, I get varying responses. So Forrester recently surveyed over 150 sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals to ask them what they expect to get from strategic partners, and what they offer in return. I was bit disappointed with the results. For instance, while 68% said they would always expect partners to give them the best possible discount, only 6% said they would always make the partner their sole source for specific technology categories.

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, to quote Godfather 2, when explaining Hyman Roth’s longevity, Johnnie Ola says, “He always made money for his partners.” That concept doesn’t seem to apply in the technology world. On the one hand, buyers complain about vendors’ unfair policies (see my recent report Buyers Should Reject Unfair Licensing Rules) and transactional sales approach. Yet OTOH they want to squeeze their partners’ margins while still expecting them to sell their wares site-by-site and product-by-product around their enterprise. As one senior software executive told me the other day, “Sure, I’ll waive my usual policies for partners, but only if they let me off the huge cost of supporting individual, small product buying decisions.”

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Lexmark Joins The BPM And Dynamic Case Management Markets

Craig Le Clair

Lexmark International acquired Netherlands-based Pallas Athena and will combine the company with its recent acquisition of Perceptive Software, a fast-growing ECM provider. Together this is a very complete software unit for the ECM, BPM, and dynamic case management market. Pallas received good reviews well in the recent Forrester Wave™ for dynamic case management solutions and has a strong overall BPM technology. North American exposure, and distribution in general,  was the big issue. Perceptive had an easy-to-deploy workflow management solution but lacked case managenent or extension beyond departmental applications. Combining Perceptive and Pallas Athena should should work well. The challenge and potential is to create synergy and focus with Lexmark’s growing managed print services business — which means focusing on office document automation that supports the knowledge worker.

With Endeca, In Effect Oracle Gets Two Technologies For The Price Of One

Leslie Owens

In 2007 Larry Elison said: "We think the paradigm for doing business, how people do their daily jobs is changing and is moving to a search paradigm.” For years Oracle has worked on weaving its search functionality into and across Oracle applications. It's called Secure Enterprise Search (SES) and it's invisible to Content & Collaboration (C&C) professionals because it's inside the Fusion platform, rarely sold as a standalone solution. With SES integrated in Oracle products, Oracle envisions "action-oriented" enterprise search. What does that look like? When workers don't just search for pending expense reports, they also can pay them from the search UI. 

When search is an embeddable service, it makes it easier to use search to get tasks done. This is why I think infrastructure vendors (HP, Oracle, Microsoft, Dassault) acquiring specialized vendors (Autonomy, Endeca, Fast, and Exalead, respectively) is a good thing for C&C professionals. What's missing from these marriages? Semantic search capabilities -- where search surfaces unstated concepts and allows users to visualize the patterns and trends locked inside volumes of text. (IBM is one to watch for this vision -- a leader in BI, they have recently commingled their search and content analytics technology to create a new product.)

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