September 18, 2013
Good customer service is the result of the right attention to strategy, business processes, technology, and people management. This series of seven blog posts focuses on customer service technology and explains the what, why, how, and when technology questions.
Part 1 reviewed the customer service technology ecosystem.
Part 2 reviewed the challenges caused by the complexity of this technology ecosystem.
Part 3 reviewed the tactical outcomes of poor customer service.
Let’s now focus on how the customer service ecosystem is changing.
- The customer service vendor landscape is consolidating. Nice Systems, Oracle, salesforce.com, and SAP are just a few examples of leading customer service solution vendors that have aggressively acquired other vendors in order to support consistent, effortless multichannel customer service experiences. For example, in 2011, Oracle acquired InQuira, a leading knowledge management solution. In 2012, it acquired RightNow Technologies, a cloud CRM vendor that emphasizes customer experience and contact center technology. RightNow had gone through its own series of acquisitions prior to this, acquiring Q-Go, a natural-language search vendor, and HiveLive, a social media monitoring vendor. These acquisitions are happening because customer service leaders want a simpler, single-vendor technology solution to manage, instead of having to buy, integrate, and manage disparate systems from a number of vendors.
- A set of core technologies are must-haves for contact centers. Customer service pros must deliver a service experience in line with customers’ expectations at a cost that makes sense to the business. Core contact center technologies enable agents to manage voice calls from customers, log and manage inquiries via case management systems, and manage and optimize agent workforces. These solutions are mature and continue to deliver significant business value.
- Social technologies are growing in importance for customer service pros. Consumers’ rapid adoption of social technologies has upended traditional thinking about how to define and manage customer relationships. Organizations are using social technologies for customer service to participate in virtual conversations with community members in order to gather and act on their feedback on products and services, as well as to leverage their expertise to evolve products and services in line with customer demand.
- Technologies that support an integrated service experience are critical. Customer service agents struggle to deliver the service that their customers demand due to a siloed technology ecosystem. Customer service agents must often use multiple 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, increases agent training time, and leads to a higher level of agent turnover due to frustration with the tool set. Customer service technologies that guide agents through process flows and deliver real-time guidance are growing in importance due to their ability to make agents more productive and their actions more consistent.
Read our TechRadar™ report for more information about these technologies.
In my next blog post, I will describe the maturity of solutions that are critical to customer service operations.