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January 17, 2013

Analyst Identifies Top 15 Trends for Customer Service in 2013

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

In a post on Forrester’s (News - Alert) Application Development & Delivery blog, principal analyst Kate Leggett provides a look ahead to 2013. In this blog post, the principal analyst focuses on the 15 key trends that customer service professionals need to pay attention to as they plan for success this year.  

The trends outlined in this post include changing channel preference, mobile solutions, agile service, proactive outbound communication, Voice of the Customer programs,  customer satisfaction, personalizing customer interactions, knowledge management, next best action, business process management, improving collaborations, best of breed solutions, SaaS (News - Alert) solutions, outsourcing, and analytics.

The top customer service trends are divided into three broad categories. While Personalize Customer Service covers the first five trends, Empower Agents for Quality Service includes the next six. And the third category Take Advantage of Maturing Customer Service Solutions includes the last four.

The first trend, Channel Preference is Changing Rapidly, shows that voice communication is being quickly followed by self-service channels like chat and email. Plus, channel usage rates are also quickly changing.

In the second trend, Mobile Solutions Are Becoming a Must-Have, more companies will move away from duplicating their Web presence for their mobile offering and will focus on deploying the right usage scenarios that add value to customers in a mobile environment, with focused user experiences that allow tasks to be efficiently accomplished.

The third trend, Agile (News - Alert) Service is Becoming More Important Than Multichannel Service, is expecting customers to be agile. That means they must be able to start an interaction in one communication channel or touch point and complete it in another. Plus, each interaction should convey consistent and personalized data and contextual knowledge and information to the customer. 

Trend four, Customers Expect Proactive Outbound Communication, shows that 29 percent of enterprises are investing in proactive outbound communications. The study predicts that the range of channels for proactive outbound will increase, and will include service alerts, workarounds, customized cross-sell and upsell offers and new knowledge base content.

Trend five, Voice of the Customer Programs Are Operationalizing Insights, highlights rapid adoption of voice of the customer (VoC) programs—68 percent in 2012 versus just 55 percent in 2011. As stated, the above five trends fall under the “Personalize Customer Service” category.

The next category, Empower Agents for Quality Service, includes trends six to 11. In trend six, Customer Service Is Moving From Cost Center to Differentiator, customer service organizations are gradually adopting a balanced scorecard of metrics that include not only cost and compliance, but also customer satisfaction, and are more suited to drive the right agent behavior and deliver better outcomes.

Trend seven, The Universal Customer History Record is Personalizing Interactions, focuses on the increasing role of customer service centers within organizations. And trend eight, Knowledge Management is Becoming the Jewel in the Customer Service Crown, suggests that companies are adopting best practices in knowledge management.

Trend nine, Next-Best-Action Solutions Are Powering Targeted Offers, shows that the next best actions are not limited to cross-sells and up-sells, but also help guide agents through the most successful resolution path by presenting them the next best process step to take which is aligned with business imperatives.

Likewise, trend 10, Business Process Management Meets The Front Office, will see better reporting and analytics in order to monitor KPIs to optimize the success of each process flow. And trend 11, Collaboration is Improving the Quality of Service Delivered, indicates that collaboration is becoming a corporate mindset.

The third category, Take Advantage of Maturing Customer Service Solutions, includes trends 12 to 15. In trend 12, Best-Of-Breed Solutions Are Struggling to Prove Their Value, buyers will be in a position to push best-of-breed vendors to demonstrate differentiation and measurable business value. In addition, the Forrester study suggests that the best-of-breed solutions will be prime acquisition targets.

Trend 13, SaaS Solutions for Customer Service Are Becoming More Popular, indicates that customers will first look at a SaaS solution to see if this approach can meet their needs. Trend 14 expects outsourcing to slowly gain market share, and trend 15 shows that analytics are improving the end-to-end experience.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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