Consumers generally hate email for customer service - so much so that some analysts have said that email is dead, and has been replaced by the live assist channels like chat or SMS/MMS. Or in the new world, there is Twitter and customer service from Facebook.
Why does email get such a bad rap? It's because we don’t trust this channel – we have all had the experience of emailing a company’s customer service department and not getting an answer back. Or getting an answer that addressed only half of our question.
Email’s poor performance as a customer service channel is typically a result of the tool’s history. These systems were typically deployed years ago and have had little care and feeding to maximize their productivity, or align operations to best practices.
Yet, customer service managers want you to use email. It’s a cheaper alternative than live-assist channels. And the automation features built into modern tools make email processing quick and reliable.
So, even with history working against you, if you are offering email to your customers, make sure it works. Follow these these basic steps to restore your customers' faith in this communication channel.
Make email part of your multichannel strategy - Don’t think of email as a siloed channel. Provide escalation pathways between your web self-service site and email, and be sure to have a single source of knowledge that is used across all your communication channels. That means that your customers will get the same answer across all touchpoints.
While the last results for US Senate and House of Representative seats are still trickling in, the overall picture is clear — the Republicans have taken control of the House, but the Democrats will retain their majority in the Senate and of course still hold the presidency. In my view, this outcome is a small positive for the tech market, but doesn’t fundamentally change our outlook for around 8% growth in the US IT market and 7% growth in global IT markets in 2010 and 2011.
On the eve of the election, my big concern from an IT market perspective was that the Republicans would take control of both the House and the Senate. That concern was not driven by my political affiliation (which happens to favor the Democrats), but by the potential for a political stalemate between a confrontational Republican Congress (with hard-line conservative Republicans and Tea Party supporters setting a shut-down-the-government tone) and a combative Democratic president. In that political environment, badly needed measures to help stimulate a lagging economy would get stalled, the political battles could shake already weak business and consumer confidence, and the US economy could then slip into a renewed recession. And an economic downturn of course would be bad for the tech sector.
This past weekend, my wife wanted desperately to attend Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” to support the message of civility and moderation. An injured foot and problems with travel logistics kept her from attending, but we watched it on the Comedy Central network. It was, of course, a counterpoint to the “Restoring Honor” rally that Fox News’ Glen Beck held in August. However, there were two striking commonalities about the two rallies:
First, the ability of cable program show hosts to gather hundreds of thousands of people (estimates seem to be around 100,000 for the Beck rally and 200,000 for the Stewart rally) to travel to Washington for a rally. We’re not talking about rallies organized by a major political leader like President Obama or a media giant like Walter Cronkite with a TV audience of tens of millions of people. Instead, the TV personalities who hosted these events have cable audiences that on a good night may reach 3 to 5 million people.
Second, the absence of attention to substantive economic issues facing this country, such as persistent high unemployment, economic recovery strategies, education and competitiveness, global warming, or budget deficits and priorities. Instead, the rallies focused on culture, tone, and attitudes, with the Beck rally resembling a college homecoming event where the returning alumni complain about how the place has gone downhill since they left, while current seniors crack jokes and make fun of the old geezers wandering around the campus.
Forrester is conducting a deep dive into dynamic case management usage by interviewing 50 companies implementing these solutions and evaluating 10 dynamic case management (DCM) platforms for an upcoming Forrester Wave. Enterprises are using DCM solutions to tackle untamed processes that service a myriad of customer and citizen requests, automate and track "incidents" related to investigations, and meet new compliance demands from a growing number of ever-more-scrupulous regulators. And with an eye to the future, business process professionals report that DCM offers great potential to align process outcomes with organizational goals, leverage unique expertise of I-workers, and improve agility for case workers, business managers, and IT.
But one aspect of this is interesting in the way DCM may change existing management approaches. The new generation of case management platforms allow for more rapid change by the case worker, business process pros, and IT. But this ability only matters if aligned with organizational agility, i.e., allows rules, such as dollar approval limits, to be approved by management in the same time frame. Approving a new rule or wording change in a communication can take weeks at some enterprises today. So management will have to decentralize decision-making to the case worker.
Sourcing executives are winding down 2010 and gearing up for 2011. Most of the sourcing executives we have spoken with recently are bullish about the year ahead, despite some looming uncertainty about the economy, particularly in Europe. Spend is opening up again, and buyers are investing in more strategic initiatives. But sourcing groups still struggle to balance low cost and high value.
Many of the sourcing groups currently working with Forrester are asking about cloud as a viable alternative to traditional deployment models. Cloud promises rapid deployment, potentially significant cost savings, and variable pricing in line with how buyers want to pay in the current economy. And cloud offerings continue to mature in areas where buyers previously had concerns (vendor viability, security, architecture, location of data). Cloud adoption is already over 25% in North America, and continues to grow in Europe (led by UK, but also growing in areas like Germany, France, the Nordics).
Most sourcing strategies around cloud consist of five key phases:
1. Understanding the evolving supplier landscape and market maturity across cloud offerings.
2. Educating business (and potentially IT) about the advantages and disadvantages of cloud.
3. Building decision frameworks to support cloud purchases.
4. Creating a contract negotiation and pricing strategy for cloud; building contract templates.
5. Working with business, vendor management, and IT to routinely evaluate ROI and decide whether to renew relationships or find alternatives (potentially cloud, hosted, on-premise, or hybrid).
Open Text today announced that it has acquired StreamServe, a provider of customer communication management solutions. The acquisition will add a missing piece from the OT portfolio — document output for customer communication management — and will enhance Open Text's SAP partnership. DoCCM is becoming more important to push transactional content for multichannel communication and as one of the components of dynamic case management solutions. StreamServe has always had strong post composition, output management, and production management, particularly for invoices and statements generated by ERP systems, including SAP and Lawson Software. It's a dominant provider of CCM in the energy, utility, and supply chain segments. Its partnership with Adobe — which integrates StreamServe's Persuasion with Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES and repackages it as LiveCycle Production Print ES — has enhanced the North American presence. But at its core, StreamServe excels at integrating DoCCM into structured and enterprise apps to leverage its work processing and will benefit from integrating with OT systems, particularly the more capable BPM and WCM solutions. Fairly predictable — but a good move for both firms.
Last week I was in Dubai and got a chance to visit GITEX, the largest IT event in the Middle East. I was very interested and impressed to see the “Government” pod. I’ve participated in many IT events including biggies like Mobile World Congress, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pod dedicated to governments’ use of IT. But, the event in Dubai clearly was showcasing how governments were using IT to address public sector concerns. I spent time in the UAE Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) booth hearing about their “e-Project” portal, which streamlines processes such as bidding and awarding of MoPW contracts, as well as the prioritizing, managing, and launching of specific projects. The portal also facilitates the registration, licensing and evaluation of vendors. The Ministry of the Environment and Water also recently launched a new version of its Web portal, which welcomes suggestions or complaints from citizens and employees, allows for public inquiries about all conservation and environmental projection issues, enables licensing for agricultural business activity or use of pesticides, and even includes a “contact the minister” feature. I also spoke to teachers affiliated with the Dubai Ministry of Education who were thrilled to have just received new iPads from which they could take attendance, record grades and manage classroom schedules. Many ministries and government agencies from across the UAE were represented. Clearly Emirates cities understand the imperative of addressing public issues with technology solutions. As populations grow – UAE population will increase 75% between 2010 and 2050 – and development continues, Emirati governments are getting “smart.”
Mike Gilpin poses this question in the most recent post to his blog. This question was sparked at Forrester’s Business Process & Application Delivery Forum during a conversation during the session “Using The Next Generation PMO To Promote Innovation.” What’s interesting is that the question came from an attendee -- presumably aligned with their firm’s PMO -- who said that in their firm, strategic investment planning is led by their enterprise architecture team, which is responsible for the strategic planning and business architecture processes.
There are multiple ways to come up with the “best answer” to this question. Nigel Fenwick discusses the answer in terms of the CIO’s responsibility to own strategy development -- and the coordination of functions necessary to carry out strategy. I’d like to answer this from the perspective of “what does it take to have an effective strategic investment planning process?”, examining the value the EA function and the PMO can provide.
My colleague Craig Symons, who is Forrester’s expert on IT governance, defines effective governance as ensuring the best answers to these questions:
At Forrester’s recent Business Process And Application Delivery Forum, there was a very interactive session on “Using The Next-Generation PMO To Promote Innovation,” led by Margo Visitacion. The premise of the session was that leading-edge PMOs (project management offices) are evolving to a more strategic role, focused on portfolio management of business investment rather than just IT projects or programs.
Many clients have suggested their PMO mission is already elevated to this level. They now focus their efforts on everything from guiding business leaders through building a business case for the investments they want to make, to guiding decision-makers through selection from the portfolio of investment proposals, to tracking benefits realization and ROI after the fact. PMOs with this kind of business-focused, strategic mission have greater business impact and are often close partners with executives leading their firm.