Two Technologies That Customer Service Organizations Use To Build Emotional Connections

Today customers use self-service for straightforward interactions, leaving complex issues like account closure or claims disputes for a phone conversation. These questions often take longer to resolve and are opportunities to build positive customer relationships.

Customer service organizations must look out for customers' best interests and support their emotional state. Take the example of Delta Air Lines and how the airline supports customers when they receive notice about a cancelled flight. Its IVR system can tell when the caller ID field matches a mobile phone that recently received a cancellation notice via text message. It skips the standard menu in favor of one context-aware question: "Are you calling about the text message we just sent you? - saving the customer valuable time, and making him or her feel like the airline has their best interests in mind.

How are companies making better emotional connections via customer service?  First, field service is becoming more important to nurture customer relationships. These interactions are by far the most personal channel for customer engagement, and they can make or break a relationship. Modern field service technologies empower customers to control the service experience by engaging with a tech on their timetable and their terms. They can also fuel differentiated customer experiences by equipping the technician with the right customer information, parts, and knowledge to get the job done in one visit. We foresee industries outside of the traditional ones – like insurance, field health workers, contractors - adopting these technologies for their value in providing differentiated experiences.

Read more

Amazon Connect - The Elephant In The Room In The Customer Service Space

Amazon just launched a preliminary cloud contact center offering, built on AWS. It offers an IVR, natural language understanding via Lex, queueing and routing and telephony infrastructure. It supports basic self-service interactions, and phone interactions. The best videos to explain what Amazon Connect does is at: Getting Started With Amazon Connect  and Introducing Amazon Connect

Even though this is a first step in the commercial contact center world, this offering is really cool. Why? Because Amazon knows how to build and run contact centers. They built their own infrastructure to  power "millions of customer conversations". Amazon Connect has the potential for democratizing customer service technologies - making them simpler, smarter and prepackaged, to allow companies of all sizes to offer good service. 

Today, a customer service organization needs 3 technology categories to support their operations: queuing and routing technologies (to route incidents to the right agent), a  CRM or customer service agent desktop (to capture customer and case details), and workforce optimization technologies (to manage agent staffing, productivity, quality and forecasting).

This technology ecosystem is cumbersome, unintegrated, and vendors offer pieces of this ecosystem. Sure, there’s been movement to consolidate these categories over the last several years. But, still nobody offers the end-to-end solution that customers demand.

Read more

Customer Success Should Be A Team Sport

Customers hold the power in their relationships with businesses. Today, it's not enough for businesses to deliver products. Customers expect them to deliver outcomes and success.

To do this, businesses must understand who the customer is, what their pain points are in achieving their business goals, and must help them choose the right products to meet their goals. The relationship does not stop there. Businesses must ensure that a new customer is properly onboarded, and is realizing ongoing value from their purchase. Forrester data backs these statements up. 68% want vendors who “understand my business, my problems – and help me solve them.”

This is the mission of customer success teams. They actively manage customers post-purchase, to ensure their ongoing success, with the end goal of reducing churn, increasing customer lifetime value and advocacy - the latter of which influences new sales.

Most businesses pursue this mission by standing up customer success organizations. They use a health score  — comprised of financial data, CRM data, product usage data, support cases, customer feedback  — to track their customers. However, most company employees interacting with customers don’t have this visibility into a customer’s health which can impact overall relationships.

Totango, a vendor of customer success solutions, has a very different view of customer success. Sure customer success teams manage overall customer relationships. However, Totango believes that everyone interacting with customers must have access to customer data and their health in order to better engage with them. Employees must also be able easily, with little friction, access this information from within the context of their application.

Read more

Top Trends For CRM In 2017 - It's All About Differentiated (Digital) Experiences

We’re firmly in the age of the customer, where customers - not executives - decide how customer-centric their companies are. And while good customer experiences can help control costs, executives are more interested in their potential to fuel sustainable top-line growth.

Forrester defines CRM as:

The business processes and supporting technologies that support the key activities of targeting, acquiring, retaining, understanding, and collaborating with customers.

CRM is the foundational building block of a company's customer experience strategy to win, serve, and retain customers. It enables new business strategies, integrates to many technologies and is constantly rejuvenated by new trends. Here are 4 of the 10 trends that we see in CRM in 2017.

Customers want to easily connect with, interact with, make purchases from, or get service from a company.  For example, 72% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing that a company can do to provide them with good service. Companies must offer customers ways to easily engage with them to foster an ongoing omnichannel dialogue and relationship that strengthen loyalty and retention. And they will reap the rewards: Omnichannel customers are more active, spend more, and are less expensive to support than single-channel customers.

Read more

Categories:

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

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.
Read more

Findings From The Forrester CRM Wave For Midsize Organizations

We included 11 vendors in the CRM Forrester Wave™ for midsize organizations. These 11 vendors reported a total of about 200,000 midsize customers. Compared to CRM vendors tackling the enterprise space, these vendors typically offer more streamlined - and sometimes simpler - capabilities. We saw some similar - and some strikingly different trends in this market segment. Midmarket customer demand:

  • Great user experiences that are affordable. These two factors are paramount for midsize organizations who don’t have large budgets, yet require the power of CRM. CRM must also be simple: simple to learn, simple use, simple to configure.
  • Single platform. Midsize organizations do not have the breadth and depth of IT and administrator resources that enterprise organizations have. They expect unified business and administrator tooling for their CRM. 
  • Cloud CRM. Midmarket organizations demand cloud as their primary deployment model. We expect that newer cloud solutions will replace most on-premises installations in the next five years.
  • Prescriptive advice over raw analytics. Midsize organizations manage large volumes of data. CRM users - whether in sales, marketing or customer service - all struggle to take the right next best step for the customer - for example to pinpoint optimal offers, discount levels, product bundles, and next conversation for better customer outcomes. Midsize organizations are increasingly using prepackaged analytics within CRM to prescribe advice in the flow of their work. 
Read more

Findings From The Forrester CRM Wave For Enterprise Organizations

The CRM market serving the large enterprise is mature. The market has consolidated in the past five years. For example, Oracle has built its customer experience portfolio primarily by acquisition. SAP, like Oracle, aims to support end-to-end customer experiences and has made acquisitions — notably, Hybris in 2013 — to bolster its capabilities. Salesforce made a series of moves to strengthen the Service Cloud. It used this same tactic to broaden its CRM footprint with the acquisition of Demandware for eCommerce in 2016.

These acquisitions broaden and deepen the footprints of large vendors, but these vendors must spend time integrating acquired products, offering common user experiences as well as common business analyst and administrator tooling — priorities that can conflict with core feature development.

What this means is that these CRM vendors increasingly offer broader and deeper capabilities which bloat their footprint and increase their complexity with features that many users can't leverage. At the same time, new point solution vendors are popping up at an unprecedented rate and are delivering modern interfaces and mobile-first strategies that address specific business problems such as sales performance management, lead to revenue management, and digital customer experience.

The breadth and depth of CRM capabilities available from vendor solutions makes it increasingly challenging to be confident of your CRM choice. In the Forrester Wave: CRM Suites For Enterprise Organizations, Q4 2016. we pinpoint the strengths of leading vendors that offer solutions suitable for enterprise CRM teams. Here are some of our key findings:

Read more

Field Service: Increasingly Important For Differentiated Customer Service Experiences

Field service technologies are more than two decades old. Companies have leveraged them to coordinate the flow of work orders that came in as service requests to the contact center. They were able to reap real ROI by using these technologies to schedule technicians, manage their routes and their flow of work. 

Today, with the rise in importance of delivering differentiated customer experiences, field service technologies are become increasingly important. This is because, the service tech who ends up on your doorstep, or at the site of faulty equipment represents the face of your company. They are your brand ambassadors. These interactions are by far the most personal channel for customer engagement, and they can help make or break a relationship.

This means that: (1) you want to equip your service techs with all the information and data that they need to easily address the reported issue, and (2) you want to use cutting edge technologies to deliver great engagement.  These technologies include:

  • Mobility for field service effectiveness - Companies communicate to field techs, increasingly via mobile apps, the location, timing, and details of their jobs. They also allow techs to provide dynamic pricing of labor, parts, and products. Mobile applications must be easy for techs to use, often with gloved hands, in challenging conditions including low lighting and hazardous job sites. They must also work in disconnected environments.
Read more

The Demand For Industry-Specific CRM Explodes

Horizontal CRM solutions — as mature as they are (and they have been around for 20+ years) — don't always do a good job at supporting industry-specific business processes. Consider these examples: CRM users in manufacturing need capabilities to track projects, schedules, time sheets, labor efficiencies, and equipment inventory in addition to core CRM attributes. Alternatively, a real estate professional would like to use CRM to track not only client contact information but also additional data elements such as properties, lease/sales comps, and stacking plans, which illustrate how healthy a property is in terms of tenants and leases.

So, over the years, CRM vendors have built vertical market software applications from the ground up for specific industries. Historic, heavyweight on-premises applications — like Oracle Siebel, with 21 built-on industry verticals — are giving way to newer, more agile software-as-a-service vertical offerings that offer scripted best practices. And other vendors have taken a different tactic and developed lighter-weight systems of engagement to consolidate and visualize data from disparate systems to drive better decision-making. This leaves a CRM buyer with three options to choose from:

CRM Type

Description

Pros

Cons

Horizontal CRM

Read more

The Democratization Of Customer Service Forces Vendor Consolidation

Today, customers expect easy, effective customer service which build positive emotional connections.  And they expect this type of service from all companies that they do business with – companies that are both big and small.  

Companies use complex software from different vendors to support customer service operations. They use:

  1. Queuing and routing technologies. They capture the customer inquiry, which can be via voice, digital, or social channels, and route and queue the inquiry to the right agent pool.
  2. CRM customer service technologies. They enable customer service agents to create and work the incoming service request.
  3. Workforce optimization technologies. They record agent interactions with customers, evaluate the quality of these interactions, recommend targeted training based on quality scores, manage agent schedules, forecast future schedules and more.
Read more

Categories: