Customer engagement is nothing new – organizations have been engaging with customers in one way or another ever since business began. Over the years, however, the nature of this engagement has changed dramatically, from largely face-to-face encounters and the written word to telephone, email, fax and text messaging and now to text-based applications, social media, mobile apps and video. These changes prompted organizations to create call centers to centralize the handling of phone calls, then contact centers that handle multiple channels of engagement, more recently, self-service channels like IVR and web-based FAQs, to the latest customer engagement centers that embrace all aspects of engaging with customers. Responding to these changes, Verint, best known as a workforce optimization vendor, has extended its suite of products to include a customer engagement center suite.
Today many conversations about contact centers and CRM focus on customer engagement and the customer experience. Customer engagement should be relatively straightforward, addressing how organizations interact with customers through different channels of engagement. However, when it comes to customer experience, I believe many miss the point. The key word is experience, which means it is ultimately about perceptions and emotions. Companies must consider how customers feel prior to, during and after interactions. A common example would be a customer who feels frustrated when he or she gets a bill and believes it is wrong, who then gets angry talking to an agent who can do nothing about it and, as a result, considers changing suppliers.
Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement finds that three-quarters (77%) of organizations participating in the research said it is very important to improve the way they engage with customers. The two main drivers behind this are improving the customer experience (cited by 74%) and improving performance of the customer service organization (70%). This is important because most companies said their customers have good experiences, but only one-third said that experience is excellent.
Topics: Customer Experience, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Workforce Optimization, Robotic Process Automation, Customer Feedback Management, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Mobile, digital technology
Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that companies use, on average, seven channels of communication to engage customers. It also finds that supporting multiple channels leads to several challenges for organizations, chiefly difficulty of integrating systems (49%), channels managed as silos (47%) and inconsistent responses across channels (33%). Today’s customers have little sympathy for such problems – they quickly lose patience, and customer satisfaction levels fall. This problem in customer satisfaction will likely intensify. In our research, organizations reported that they expect volumes of interactions to increase on all channels and more digital channels such as text messaging, chat, mobile apps and video. In addition, to resolve more interactions at the first point of contact, organizations are using more employees in back-office groups such as finance, HR and operations.
I recently discussed how NICE continues to invest in its core products while creating a full customer experience platform, combining its core offerings with products newly acquired from inContact and Nexidia. During two recent briefings, I learned that these investments continue at quite a pace; the company announced a new product to address the ever-increasing number of channels of engagement, and another so that smaller centers with less sophisticated requirements can take advantage of a specialized workforce management product.
Our benchmark research into the next-generation contact center in the cloud shows that organizations are supporting more and more channels of engagement; an emerging one is video. Adoption rates suggest that use of this technology for customer service is still in its early days, but as more consumers make video calls using mobile apps such as FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype, we expect adoption rates and usage to increase. During two recent briefings I learned that Pitney Bowes has built a portfolio of products to support various uses of video.
Not long ago, organizations engaged with customers by meeting them in person, speaking with them on the telephone or writing to them. To be competitive today, however, organizations cannot confine customer service to those forms of engagement. Customers now engage with each other and organizations through a variety of digital channels that include email, corporate websites, text messaging, instant messaging, social media, smartphone applications and video.
Our benchmark research into next-generation contact centers in the cloud confirms what many others are writing and talking about – that customer experience is now the business differentiator. This means that organizations need to get customer engagement right at every touch point, be it assisted by employees or digital. The same research shows that while organizations are supporting more channels of engagement, many are struggling to integrate systems and engagement channels; fewer than half of companies can offer omnichannel experiences. Making matters worse, many of their employees don’t have the full range of skills needed to handle all channels and types of interactions. To overcome these challenges, organizations need a systems architecture that integrates assisted and digital channels, workforce optimization and other business applications such as CRM and multidimensional analytics. Several vendors are working to provide such a suite, most focusing on in-system integration of channels, WFO and analytics, and integration with third-party CRM systems.
Ever since I became involved in the CRM and customer service markets, everyone – businesses, vendors, consultants and analysts – has been talking and writing about the “360-degree view of the customer”. Despite claims from several vendors, I haven’t seen any products that produce a full 360-degree view, and user organizations haven’t had the time or resources to develop the technology themselves. As our research into next-generation customer analytics shows, the main issue is data – organizations have far more of it than most realize. The research shows that organizations on average use eight data sources as input to analytics, but there are more than 20 potential sources of customer-related data and the situation is getting worse. Beyond the sheer volume of it, data now comes in several forms – structured, unstructured (such as call recordings and text), event data (for example, video that customers download) and process data.
In tracking Genesys for several years I have seen it grow through a series of product developments and acquisitions – from predominantly selling call routing and computer/telephony integration (CTI) software to providing a suite of products that manage inbound and outbound, assisted and digital channels of customer engagement. Continuing this expansion Genesys recently acquired Interactive Intelligence and Silver Lining. These new assets signal another round of transformation as the company builds support for what I call a customer experience hub – a combination of products to support all aspects of enterprise-wide customer engagement.
Topics: Customer Experience, Contact Center, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Mobile, digital technology, Analytics, Office of Finance, Cloud Computing