Paul Segre is President and Chief Executive Officer of Genesys.
By reading the tea leaves from 2012, we can gain some insight into the New Year. Despite a lackluster economy, customer service dominated business initiatives. Technologies such as cloud computing, social media, analytics and mobile pushed the innovation envelope. And finally, some would say belatedly, companies are increasingly realizing that customer service is an “enterprise problem” — and not just something limited to the contact center or customer service department.
Genesys has the honor and privilege of working with the largest and most innovative customers in the world and this gives us great insight into company needs and industry trends. Based on this insight, we are pleased to summarize the top ten customer service resolutions for any customer-centric enterprise. As companies plan for 2013, these resolutions should provide valuable insight into business trends, customer behavior, technologies and innovations, and best practices.
Start investing (and innovating) again: Since 2008, the global economic downturn has wreaked havoc on many companies. During this period, many have put the brakes on capital expenditures, and customer service organizations felt the pinch. As the global economy picks up steam and corporate purse strings begin to loosen, companies have an opportunity to innovate and modernize their customer service infrastructure to meet the rigorous demands of the always-on, mobile, socially savvy and digital consumer. If budgets are still tight, see number two below.
Don’t be afraid of the cloud: Companies increasingly view cloud computing as a viable and cost-effective alternative to deploy customer service applications. And, most companies reaped tremendous benefits, without the doom-and-gloom consequences that were decried by the naysayers. In 2013, look for more companies to jump on the cloud bandwagon. For some applications, cloud deployments have already surpassed premise-based deployments within enterprises.
Unlock the power of your data: Every company is awash in data, spanning from traditional transactional data stored in billing, ecommerce and CRM systems to unstructured data found in social media and videos. In 2013, more companies will expand their big data frameworks to tap into this disparate information and unlock business value about their customers.
Engage your employees: Front line employees are brand ambassadors and for customer service organizations, often account for 60-70 percent of the expense. Motivated and engaged agents ultimately translate into superior experiences for the customer and by reducing attrition, dramatically lower training and recruiting expenses. As such, expect companies to double down their employee investments through Workforce Optimization initiatives, training, coaching, processes and related technologies.
Build a mobile app that does something useful: The rapid growth of smart phones has fueled a proliferation of mobile apps — now numbering in the millions. But for most companies, the initial app was weak. Almost all had limited functionality and no easy or seamless way to connect with live service. Most of these formative customer service applications remain unused or were quickly abandoned. As companies advance their second or third generation apps, expect greater capabilities that link the app to live service including history, session and context.
Merge social and contact center activities: Most companies responded to the rapid explosion of social media by creating rapid response organizations within marketing. As customer service became a key conversation within the social sphere, marketing departments quickly realized that they were ill prepared to play the role of contact center agent. In the upcoming year, marketing organizations will begin improving alignment with the customer service organization — or merge social activities altogether.
Listen (better) to your customers: While this resolution may appear self-explanatory, companies must now take action. Through disciplined, closed-loop voice of the customer (VOC) initiatives, customer service organizations can gain a better understanding of customer perceptions and requirements. In addition, speech analytics is now a mainstream and cost-effective solution to discern trends, agent gaps and process improvements.
Break down the conversation silos: Today, voice, web, mobile and social customer interactions are managed by disparate and siloed organizations. For the customer that jumps between interaction channels, this organization becomes a tower of Babel. As companies replace legacy infrastructures, they should seize the opportunity to consolidate their many interaction channels into a single enterprise-wide architecture.
Streamline your customer service chain: The back office directly impacts the customer’s experience. A loan application — originating in the contact center — that gets mired in the back office can disrupt the entire customer service chain. Companies must streamline their front office/CRM and back office/BPM systems into one seamless process that adheres to a common set of service levels, business objectives and customer satisfaction targets.
Capture best practices: Most organizations know they can improve but struggle to make actionable plans. The keys to success are benchmarking, analytics, best practices (particularly those from outside the company) and continuous improvement. Executives should demand more from their Customer Service organizations and Customer Service organizations should proactively drive change that improves their service levels vs. being the static or reactive organizations that often are today.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.