Customers are using more communication channels for customer service than ever before. They are also contacting customer service organizations more frequently. Companies are rising to this challenge as overall satisfaction with the quality of service over all communication channels is trending upwards.
Moreover, customers have little appetite for long or difficult service interactions, including navigating arduous interactive voice response (IVR) menus to connect with an agent or waiting in queues to be connected to a phone agent; and are increasingly turning to self-service as the easiest path to service resolution. Here are some key takeaways from our latest consumer survey about channel usage for customer service.
For the first time in the history of our survey, respondents reported using the FAQ pages on a company's website more often than speaking with an agent over the phone. Use of the help/FAQ pages on a company's website for customer service increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014, while phone interactions have remained constant at a 73% usage rate.
Other self-service channels also see increased usage since 2012. For example, use of communities and virtual agents jumped by over 10 percentage points each. We also see robust uptake of speech and mobile self-service channels.
Self-service adoption increased across all generations from 2012 to 2014, with the largest increases attributable to older boomers (ages 59-69) and the golden generation (ages 70+).
Online chat adoption continues to rise – from 38% in 2009 to 43% in 2012 to 58% in 2014. Screensharing, cobrowsing and SMS are other channels that are increasing in popularity among the young and old alike.
After a brief hiatus for the holidays, the S&R podcast is back! For those who are new to the podcast, each month we use our First Look newsletter and podcast to highlight one of the terrific analysts on Forrester's Security and Risk team. The podcast and newsletter are great ways for Forrester readers to get to know a little more about the analysts writing the reports. This month we spotlight 4-year Forrester vet Ed Ferrara, one of our vice presidents and principal analysts focused on security strategy, budgets, metrics, consultancies, and managed services — all the topics that you want to tackle at the beginning of a new year.
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One of Microsoft’s announcements today is the overhaul of its digital whiteboard formerly called PPI — now rebranded as Surface Hub. Surface Hub is an 84" 4K resolution (or 55" without 4K) all-in-one touchscreen computer with collaboration features for conference rooms. The market for this device is primarily industries with requirements for large screen visualization, which there are many: Manufacturing, healthcare, higher education, publishing, architecture, engineering, and oil & gas being prime examples.
However, digital whiteboards are increasingly attractive to all organizations. We see a bifurcation of conference room equipment for visual communications: On the low end more companies are putting just USB webcams in ad hoc collaboration spaces. On the high end we're getting inquiries from customers taking another look at specialized hardware, but uninterested in telepresence for cost or functionality reasons. For customers creating these specialized collaboration rooms, whiteboarding and application sharing are just as important as video.
Three initial impressions from Microsoft’s announcement:
It’s not often that a new product release has the potential to reshape the way people work and play. The PC, the browser, the smartphone – all of these products fell into that category.
Microsoft’s new HoloLens has the potential to do the same. (Check out some photos from Gizmodo here -- they don't live up to the actual experience even a little bit -- and this video, which doesn't do it justice, either).
Yes, that’s a big claim. But I’m here to challenge your thinking with this assertion: Over the next few years, HoloLens will set the bar for a new type of computing experience that suffuses our jobs, our shopping experiences, our methods for learning, and how we experience media, among other life vectors. And other vendors will have to respond to this innovation in holographic, mixed reality computing.
Microsoft’s event, Windows 10: The Next Chapter, showcased an impressive vision and plan for: 1) transforming Windows, including free upgrades; 2) gaining relevance in mobile; 3) launching a new computing experience with HoloLens; and 4) reinventing group collaboration with Surface Hub.
Based on what we saw today and on background conversations, Forrester believes that Microsoft’s Windows 10 will persuade enterprises and consumers to upgrade from Windows 7 (something Windows 8 didn’t do) and be an easy upgrade from Windows 8. Getting the world’s 1.5 billion Windows PCs on this new software platform will re-establish Microsoft’s dominance in personal computing with a mobile extension.
The technology advances in Windows 10 include a single and integrated experience across PCs and tablets with a single platform and app store; continuous software improvements, and big security improvements, and a new set of enterprise features. (Forrester clients can get our enterprise perspective in our new report, ‘Microsoft Gets Its Flagship OS Back On Track With Windows 10.) Windows 10 even brings together Windows and Xbox -- giving gamers and game developers access to Xbox experiences on the PC.
HoloLens Is A Powerful New Technology To Deliver Mixed Reality Experiences
On one level, IBM’s new z13, announced last Wednesday in New York, is exactly what the mainframe world has been expecting for the last two and a half years – more capacity (a big boost this time around – triple the main memory, more and faster cores, more I/O ports, etc.), a modest boost in price performance, and a very sexy cabinet design (I know it’s not really a major evaluation factor, but I think IBM’s industrial design for its system enclosures for Flex System, Power and the z System is absolutely gorgeous, should be in the MOMA*). IBM indeed delivered against these expectations, plus more. In this case a lot more.
In addition to the required upgrades to fuel the normal mainframe upgrade cycle and its reasonably predictable revenue, IBM has made a bold but rational repositioning of the mainframe as a core platform for the workloads generated by mobile transactions, the most rapidly growing workload across all sectors of the global economy. What makes this positioning rational as opposed to a pipe-dream for IBM is an underlying pattern common to many of these transactions – at some point they access data generated by and stored on a mainframe. By enhancing the economics of the increasingly Linux-centric processing chain that occurs before the call for the mainframe data, IBM hopes to foster the migration of these workloads to the mainframe where its access to the resident data will be more efficient, benefitting from inherently lower latency for data access as well as from access to embedded high-value functions such as accelerators for inline analytics. In essence, IBM hopes to shift the center of gravity for mobile processing toward the mainframe and away from distributed x86 Linux systems that they no longer manufacture.
“[W]e might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant’s books, so that every member of Congress, and every man of any mind in the Union, should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them.”
Thomas Jefferson to Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin, 1 April 1802
Governments have made enormous progress in improving their transparency – thus increasing accountability. While the “union” is not quite there, implementation of the DATA Act with new standards for financial reporting and data publication will move the bar forward. In the meantime, local governments demonstrate numerous best practices. Thomas Jefferson would likely give a nod to many of the cities and states that have published checkbook-level details of their budgets.
Checkbook NYC Demonstrates Transparency
In July of 2010 the New York City Comptroller’s Office launched Checkbook NYC, an online transparency tool that for the first time placed the City’s day-to-day spending in the public domain. Using an intuitive dashboard approach that combines a series of graphs and user-friendly tables, Checkbook NYC provides up-to-date information about the City's financial condition.
To compete in today's global economy, businesses and governments need agility and the ability to adapt quickly to change. And what about internal adoption to roll out enterprise-grade Business Intelligence (BI) applications? BI change is ongoing; often, many things change concurrently. One element that too often takes a back seat is the impact of changes on the organization's people. Prosci, an independent research company focused on organizational change management (OCM), has developed benchmarks that propose five areas in which change management needs to do better. They all involve the people side of change: better engage the sponsor; begin organizational change management early in the change process; get employees engaged in change activities; secure sufficient personnel resources; and better communicate with employees. Because BI is not a single application — and often not even a single platform — we recommend adding a sixth area: visibility into BI usage and performance management of BI itself, aka BI on BI. Forrester recommends keeping these six areas top of mind as your organization prepares for any kind of change.
Some strategic business events, like mergers, are high-risk initiatives involving major changes over two or more years; others, such as restructuring, must be implemented in six months. In the case of BI, some changes might need to happen within a few weeks or even days. All changes will lead to either achieving or failing to achieve a business. There are seven major categories of business and organizational change:
The Webster Dictionary describes fatigue (also sometimes called exhaustion, tiredness, languor, lassitude or listlessness) as "a subjective feeling of tiredness which is distinct from weakness, and has a gradual onset."
Technology management transformations - and in specific, I&O transformations - suffer from fatigue in many organizations. Some of it is due to the fact that the term "transformation" is more jargon than anything real. Transformation means many things to many people and therfore we never really exit a transformation as we move from project to project, continually transforming.
If I asked you, does I&O transformation mean reshaping your architecture? Streamlining your service management and integration (SIAM) processes? Adjusting your automation strategy? Improving your application performance management to become more proactive? Reducing operational cost? Shifting your infrastructure and applications into the cloud? You would say "yes" to all of them, with all of them being described as some kind of transformation. Eliminating fatigue means following a transformation plan. The plan needs to be supported with details to shift the conversation from costs of the technology “feeds and speeds” to how the technology will enable the business to win, serve, and retain their customers.