Forrester’s Tech Radar Assessment Of 24 Contact Center Technologies For Customer Service

The contact center technology ecosystem for customer service is a nightmare of complexity. At a high level, to serve your customers, you need to:

  1. Capture the inquiry, which can come in over the phone, electronically via email, chat, or SMS, and over social channels, like Twitter, Facebook, or an interaction escalated from a discussion forum.
  2. Route the inquiry to the right customer service agent pool.
  3. Create a case for the inquiry that contains its details and associate it with the customer record.
  4. Find the answer to the inquiry; this can involve digging through different information sources like knowledge bases, billing systems, and ordering databases.
  5. Communicate the answer to the inquiry to the customer.
  6. Append case notes to the case summarizing its resolution and close the case.

Our TechRadar™ report for the Contact Center assesses these technologies based on their maturity and the value they deliver to customer service organizations. After evaluating 24 technologies, we found that:

  • A set of core technologies are must-haves for contact centers. Customer service professionals are on the hook to deliver a service experience in line with their customers’ expectations at a cost that makes sense to the business. Technologies like speech and web self-service, communication via email and chat, case management, knowledge management, ACD, predictive dialing, quality monitoring, and workforce management are mature, mission-critical, and continue to deliver significant business success.
  •  Social technologies are growing in importance and help move the needle on customer satisfaction. The rapid adoption of social media has opened the door to a new set of ways customers communicate among themselves as well as with companies. Companies use social technologies to listen in on customer conversations and to allow customers to engage with peers in order to gather and act on their feedback on products and services, as well as to leverage their expertise to evolve product knowledge in line with customer demand.
  • Technologies that personalize interactions are starting to gain traction. Customer service agents struggle to deliver the service that their customers demand due to a siloed technology ecosystem. They often use many disconnected applications to resolve a single customer issue. In addition, service managers can’t enforce a standardized discovery process across the apps, which hurts agent consistency and productivity and increases agent training time. Because of this, contact center technologies that guide agents through process flows,  deliver real-time guidance, and push alerts and notifications to customers are starting to gain traction.
  • Some technologies — old and new alike — are struggling to gain market momentum. There are a set of technologies — including cobrowse, virtual agents, and interaction analytics — that have not seen universal adoption. This is because the costs of implementation and maintenance remain high or that the value of these technologies is not easy to calculate. New deployment options or usage scenarios are emerging which may help them gain traction.

 You can use this information to understand how the contact center technology landscape is changing and coalescing, especially given the number of mergers and acquisitions that have been recently announced.