In reviewing Gartner’s “Predicts 2014: Customer Support and the Engaged Enterprise,” I wasn’t surprised to see customer service re-emerging as the core business strategy. Creating a winning customer experience is a critical differentiator, and consistency of experience across channels of engagement helps build brand messages for more lasting and focused brand resonance.
It’s no surprise, either, to learn that there are disparities in this space – since technology channels vary so widely and each offers its own limitations – both in types of communication and in the capacity to integrate seamlessly with different documenting and reporting solutions. While predictions such as “Facebook and Twitter will have their own social media engagement applications for enterprise customer service” are interesting, as an executive it’s all about the capacity for integration and reporting so that performance can be assessed using common KPIs. From that strategic vantage, today’s enterprise-level view of customer service more closely resembles a shattered mirror: you see the whole picture, but there are pieces missing and some of the pieces don’t precisely align.
Predictions on changes to customer service are also an interesting viewpoint in the report. Many companies have moved away from more costly telephone-based personal service towards recorded options, chat, help forums and other Internet-based help. The positioning of the document indicates this to be a trend, but there is no indication that it is based on customer preferences vs. cost considerations. If consulted, would the customers’ real preference be the digital solution?
The prediction of mobile engagement as a first option is certainly expected with statistics supporting a robust increase in mobile use for e-commerce. However, the entire app space may need to become faster and easier along with enhanced cellular connections in order for Customer Service Representative (CSR) satisfaction to remain high. I can imagine nothing more frustrating than downloading an app for customer support, taking time to load the app, update it periodically, only not to be able to achieve the consumers’ goals. While I agree that Facebook and Twitter are real channels for support that can be capitalized upon today – both lack the enterprise search and categorization in reporting that would allow them to be stand-alone solutions. As well, CSR issues on Google+ can prove much more damaging with extensive SEO implications.
Fortunately, enterprise CRM solutions are rapidly integrating the need for multi-channel and social integration. The solutions are working to make the CSR mirror less fragmented, with fewer pieces missing in the overall KPI picture.