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.
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
In 2016 Ventana Research saw a significant shift in the customer engagement and contact center software markets. Our benchmark research into the next-generation contact center in the cloud shows that for 70 percent of companies, customer experience is and will be an important way of competing; the largest growth in ways of competing is to introduce digital self-service, which will increase by 12 percent. To support those changes, organizations have introduced more channels of engagement, to the extent that our research shows the average has grown to eight channels. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that in nearly half (47%) of organizations these channels are managed as silos, which indicates that most organizations still operate multiple channels rather than supporting omnichannel engagement. The next-generation contact center research confirms that customer engagement is an enterprise-wide issue but one-third (33%) of companies struggle to provide consistent responses across touch points.
You would think that all organizations would want to maximize the value of every customer relationship, but my research over the last couple of years suggests otherwise. Three particular insights stick in my mind. My research into customer analytics shows that overall customer lifetime value ranked only sixth most important customer-related metric, compared to the highest-ranked, customer service costs, which was selected by 54 percent of respondents versus 31 percent for customer lifetime value. Executives had it second highest-ranked, but as you move down the organization it falls off in importance. This lack of focus is also reflected in my research into customer relationship maturity, where customer value was again ranked only the sixth most important customer-related metric, this time behind the top-ranked metric of overall revenue (62% versus 25%).
Topics: Call Center, Cloud Computing, Contact Center, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Customer Service, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Voice of the Customer, Customer Experience, Analytics, Office of Finance
Recently I was introduced to Aria, which provides a billing and subscription management system in the cloud. Its target customer is any company that offers subscription- and/or usage-based services. Its core module allows users to set up a product catalogue that consists of plans (such as subscription charges or recurring use charges) and inventory items. Usage-based charges can be based on a scale; for example, the first 10 occurrences are charged at one rate, the next 10 at another rate and so on. Users can create a plan by modifying an existing plan or by picking items from a list. Plans are hierarchical, making it easy for companies to update and manage plans built on lower-level plans; for example, a platinum service plan can be made up of a combination of lower-level services such as bronze or silver. Users can also create dependencies – for example, specifying that a plan must include software support or cannot include 7-by-24 calls. Inventory items are one-offs – for example, a modem that allows connection to hosted disc storage – and each of these can have its own charging structure. This may seem complicated, but a demonstration showed that the process consists mainly of ticking boxes or dragging and dropping prebuilt items.
Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Call Center, Cloud Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Analytics, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Customer Service, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Customer Experience, Analytics, Office of Finance