Top Technology Trends in Customer Service

For organizations keen to prioritize their customer service technology activities, Paul White has identified what he believes should be the key areas of focus.

Customer service trends

1. Widespread Deployment of Mobile Apps

While customers increasingly appreciate the immediacy and control that mobile apps can deliver, they also want the certainty that comes from knowing their issues are being resolved. The most successful mobile apps will be those that integrate 100 percent with existing contact center queues and processes.

2. Increased Focus on Self-Service Channels

Traditional voice channels are still by far the most dominant contact channel, but there’s a growing preference for more effective self-service. Customers don’t want to be kept waiting, so self-service channels that can bypass frustrating IVR and call center queues will become increasingly popular.

3. Web Chat & Instant Messaging Starts Delivering

Web chat will see increased take-up during, particularly with enhancements such as multi-way chat and growing customer participation in self service forums via “communities of interest”.

4. Cloud Contact Centers Go Mainstream

There’s a growing maturity about the Contact Center as a Service market, with Gartner recently identifying cloud-based contact center platforms as an alternative to traditional on premises-based infrastructure deployments. Significantly, Gartner suggested that it was application specialists that offer the broadest set of capabilities, particularly for deployment scenarios such as infrastructure refresh, or the addition of new channels to the customer communications mix.

5. Social Media Gets Rescued from Marketing

Despite massive growth in social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, it’s probably still a bit too early to hope that social media will be rescued from the Marketing Department and transferred to the customer service contact center where it rightfully belongs.

6. Optimising Your Existing Technology Investments

Next year will see organizations actively looking to unlock further value from their existing technology infrastructure rather than opting for a more aggressive refresh approach. Deploying universal desktop solutions that integrate existing systems and applications with new functionality such as mobile apps, web chat and social integration can deliver significant added value.

7. Recognizing and Responding to Customer Preferences

Amongst all the mobile apps, social and web chat initiatives, it’s important not to forget that a significant proportion of the customer demographic are unlikely to want to engage in this part of the customer service journey. Acknowledging the value of these customers, and ensuring that you still have agents available to answer and address their requirements, will still be of real importance during 2013 and beyond.

8. Getting the Customer Contact Balance Right

We will see smarter organizations leveraging their mix of customer service technologies to achieve the right balance between simply servicing a customer account, and actively engaging to handle more complex issues. We expect to see more routine interactions such as orders, balance inquiries or FAQ matters handled by customer service apps, web chat and self-service, while issues that need resolution such as complaints, returns or fraud concerns will be dealt with by live agent interactions. Organizations will need to make sure their service operations are ready and able to address this distinction.

With smartphone usage growing dramatically, we’re expecting mobile to increasingly become a primary contact channel – driving the requirement for a new generation of innovative, next generation self-service apps.

Today’s customers clearly don’t like to be kept waiting, so we think it will become imperative for customer service organizations to deploy technologies that will allow customers to conduct interactions on their own terms. However this will only be successful if all these interactions are serviced as part of a single, integrated customer service.

Despite understanding the critical importance of channels such as mobile and social, very few businesses are in a position to release new budget to support these initiatives. That’s why we expect that customer service organizations will start getting serious about cloud-enabled contact center platforms, particularly with their ‘friendly’ startup costs and the ability to ‘pilot’ new initiative easily.

About the Author

Paul White is CEO of mplsystems and an expert in the CRM and Contact Center Technology fields. mplsystems is a contact center technology company that brings together multi-channel contact center technology with innovative customer service and sales software. Its intelligent desktops offer a single view of customer activities across the business, helps clients to resolve queries faster whilst benefiting from more integrated processes, faster deployment and reduced IT costs.

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