Customers dream about personalized, contextual, proactive customer service experiences — where companies deliver an experience tailored to their persona, their past purchase history, and their past customer service history. They want each interaction to add value and build upon prior ones so that they don’t have to repeat themselves and restart the discovery process. They want to be able to choose the communication channel and device they use to interact with a service center. They want to start an interaction on one channel or device and move it seamlessly to another. Check out RightNow’s vision video that brings these points to life.

Most customer service organizations are still struggling with the basics — the hygiene factors in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — in meeting their customers’ expectations. There are benchmarking tools that you can use to figure out how well your organization is doing and to get actionable recommendations on how to do better. But, as you focus on the tactical improvements that you need to make this year, it’s important to keep tabs on the optimal experience that customers would like you to deliver to help shape your long-term direction for customer service. Here’s my abbreviated personal list:

Out with the old . . .

. . . and in with the new


Siloed customer service experience

Cross-touchpoint experiences: blended sales, marketing, and service experiences

Customers want to seamlessly move through all types of interactions with a company and receive the same engagement experience.

Social CRM


Social channels are just another way that customers have to interact with companies. SLAs and customer experiences across social channels should be in line with what is delivered across traditional channels.

Multichannel communication

Agile communication

Customers do not want to be restricted to having conversations about an issue solely on a single communication channel.

Single-mode communication

Multimodal communication

Customers want to be able to simultaneously engage with a service agent using more than a single channel — for example, speaking to an agent on a mobile device while reading a service alert on the same device that the agent has just sent the customer.

Curated knowledge

Social knowledge

Customers and agents need to be able to create and modify knowledge to ensure that it evolves in line with customer demands.

Basic customer profiles

Social profiles

Agents need a full view of the customer’s profile over traditional and social channels in order to effectively tailor the service experience.

Basic rules-driven offers

Real-time personalization via predictive analytics

Experiences must be customized in real time. Predictive analytics coupled with techniques to manage big data allow for this to happen.

Customer service without BPM (or overly reliant on BPM)

Dynamic case management

Service experiences must be standardized with the help of BPM technologies, but must be agile enough to handle exceptions.

On-premises deployments

Cloud deployments, or better yet, agile deployments that can be easily migrated between on-premises and cloud

Why should you be responsible for the maintenance of vendor software?

Average speed of answer metrics

First closure resolution metrics

Customer satisfaction is more important than getting the customer off the phone quickly.

Disengaged agents

Engaged and Empowered agents

Agents must be empowered to do the right thing for the customer within the process guardrails without being penalized.

Heavily structured, tiered support models

Swarming models

Swarming brings the right skill sets together to quickly resolve customer issues.

 Customer service organization as a cost center

Customer service as a strategic differentiator and revenue center for a company

Good customer service is good for business. It increases cross-sells, upsells, recommendations, and brand loyalty.

Thoughts? Comments?