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Customer service trends in 2014 by Forrester

26th Feb 2014
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‘’ The company that provides the best relationship with the customer will win — not through product, but through the best experience" - Tesco Chairman Sir Richard Broadbent.

In the Age Of The Customer, it is common knowledge that excellent customer experiences generate corporate competitive advantage.  And hence, in an attempt to move the needle on customer service operations, and keep the customers’ satisfaction and loyalty levels up, 2014 will see more and more companies attempt to prioritize the Voice of the Customer.

In regards to the above-mentioned context, Kate Leggett (Principal Forrester Analyst serving Application Development & Delivery PROFESSIONALS), cites Forrester's Top Trends for Customer Service In 2014.

1. Mobile-First Mindset

Customer service mobile applications will remain high in demand. As a result, those companies who will focus on their mobile strategies will be in an advantageous position.

Forrester advises companies to align mobile strategies with their technology investments for different organizational departments, namely, marketing, customer service and sales. Instead of duplicating the web presence into the mobile offering, companies should focus on right usage scenarios that add value and helps customers to accomplish the tasks competently and smoothly.

2. Proactive Engagement

In 2014, most likely organizations will explore the power of pre-purchase and post-purchase engagements to anticipate the 3 Ws and 1 H i.e. what, when, where and how for customers. Forester advises organizations to use data analytics like

  • The pages that the user navigates
  • Time spent on pages

to proactively reach out to customers at the right time for catering exact requirements.

Again, reaching out to customers can be in many ways, for example, an invitation to chat, an offer, or a multimedia tutorial.

3. Operational insights through customer feedback

Forrester has observed that while 60% companies gather feedback about their products, services, and organizational processes; only 33% actually analyze customer insight and use the feedback to improve organizational boundaries.

In 2014, this data will change. Considering the present state of things, customer service organizations (both big and small) will leverage customer feedback in two improved ways –

  • Efforts to gather customer feedback across different communication channels and touchpoints and act on it will get doubled.
  • Direct customer feedback will be used as a metric to measure the success of operations.

Put simply, companies will move towards more holistic measurement programs for communication channels and touch-points.

4. SaaS Solutions for Agility

Last Forrester data has shown that 15% of organizations have replaced all/most of their on-premise customer service applications with software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions; while 24% have complemented their existing on-premise solutions with SaaS.

With this in mind, Forrester has predicted organizations to continue to leverage SaaS solution to complement and extend existing capabilities.

Forrester has strongly suggested enterprises to opt for SaaS applications due to benefits such as business agility and speed of deployment. It has further stated that now is the perfect time for making this switchover, as a new crop of SaaS based social customer service solutions have flooded the market, giving a plethora of options to choose from.

5. Omnichannel Customer Service

According to Forrester, while voice is the primary communication channel used, it is quickly getting followed by self-service channels, like - chat and email. In other words, Customers are demanding the flexibility to use a breadth of channels for customer service. They also expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another.

Organizations who wish to score high in their customer relations need to understand the channel preference of their customer base, and guide customers to the right channel based on the complexity and time-sensitivity of the inquiry.

Explaining this context better, Managing Director at Synthetix, comments – ‘’Customer’s perception of a brand will largely get determined by the organization’s ability to respond to customers questions across whichever channel and whatever time.’’

‘Omni-channel’ and ‘multi-channel’ are buzz words repeatedly heard in the world of customer service.  Organizations will be required to have the right technology to ‘join’ customer communication channels together and reduce departmental and channel silos.

6. Knowledge evolvement

Most often customer service agents are not armed with the right knowledge tool to effectively answer customer inquiries. In fact, 67% of consumers use web self-service knowledge (instead of contacting the customer professionals) to find answers to their questions.

During 2014, Forrester expects organizations to

  • Install application as a consolidated base for all information
  • Complement the knowledge base with user generated content from discussion forums
  • Track the effectiveness of knowledge usage by the customer service agents
  • Explore social media insights to modify the knowledge base in line with the customer query on social media.

Final Thoughts

For organizations to deliver on Forrester’s top trends - consistent customer service, improved customer satisfaction, pro-active engagement, knowledge evolvement and mobile mindset and so on – right CRM application development will be required.

Sir Richard Broadbent suggests, ‘’customer experience is the next business battleground. But to win in it, it’s important to get the basics right. If you implement the right CRM application, your customer service program will be fuelled by definite ROI and sustained by high quality feedback throughout the years to come.’’


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