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Industry Research : Revealed - The 10 Key Technology Trends Set to Shape 2012's Customer Service Landscape

LONDON, 30th November 2011 -- Sabio, the contact centre and unified communications systems integrator, has highlighted what it believes will be the Top 10 key technology trends that are set to shape the customer service landscape during 2012.

Sabio has identified placing contact centres at the heart of an organisation’s social networking strategy; optimising websites for smartphone access; and supporting multi-channel customer engagement through consistent interactions as three of the most important issues currently facing customer service directors.

According to Stuart Dorman, Head of Sabio’s Consulting Practice: "Heightened financial and competitive pressures have meant that 2011 has again proved to be a challenging year for customer service organisations – and at the moment 2012 looks as though it will be similar. Because of this it is imperative that customer service directors maintain a dual focus: actively addressing exciting challenges such as increased volumes of social networking interactions and enormous growth in website access via smartphones, while still continuing to focus on optimising their operational contact centre performance to deliver better service with constrained budgets.

"Organisations also need to think more in terms of a phased approach to their contact centre technology deployments, staging their projects and investments so that the benefits from initial projects such as Workforce Management, technology platform refreshes or Unified Communications roll-outs can be realised," continued Stuart. "This way, organisations can adopt a ‘self-funding’ discipline to subsequent projects, unlocking new budget from previous operational project savings, and creating a compelling business case for further initiatives such as Voice of the Customer, Video and Virtual Assistant initiatives."

Sabio’s "Top 10 key technology trends for 2012 is based on recent findings collected, and draws on in-depth engagements with some of the world’s leading customer service organisations. Here’s the full list for 2012:

1. Place your contact centre at the heart of your corporate social networking
The time for ‘dipping your toe’ in social media has now passed: instead you should be monitoring relevant social media channels, leveraging them as powerful self-service knowledge bases, and moving towards being able to engage customers in real time on key networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Inevitably this will demand equipping agents with the tools and skills necessary to take their customer service skills into the social networking space.

2. Your website needs to be optimised for mobile/smartphone access
Increased smartphone popularity is making the mobile the key customer service channel for many customers – 46 percent of UK smartphone customers used their device to access the Internet over the last three months. Organisations need to make sure that their web presence is fully optimised for mobile access.

3. Consistent customer interactions across multiple channels
Customers are increasingly driving the shift towards channels such as social and mobile, are happy to use smart self-service solutions, and are actively engaging in activities such as streaming video to their mobiles. Against this background, it’s even more imperative for organisations to re-invent their traditional voice contact centres as fully optimised multi-channel environments. 2012’s consumers will expect their interactions to be handled consistently regardless of the channel they’re using, whether it’s mobile, a social interaction, traditional voice, webchat, e-mail or other emerging channels.

4. Have you got an App for that?
Customers are now familiar with using apps as a service channel, with major brands particularly deploying ‘brand-in-the-hand’ apps that encourage customer stickiness and give their customers a pre-configured channel for their mobile interactions and account management. These dedicated apps are increasingly giving customers a fast-track route into customer service centres, bypassing lengthy IVR processes and offering rapid escalation to webchat and voice interactions

5. Tracking key service metrics through customer feedback
Sabio Consultants believe it’s the organisations that are really listening to what their customers are saying that are driving today’s customer service agenda. 2012 looks set to be the year when major organisations really start to embrace the link between offering a high quality customer experience, loyalty and longer-term financial success. By gathering customer insight using the latest real time customer feedback applications, organisations can instantly measure metrics such as Net Promoter Scores, agent performance and Customer Effort Scores to measure how easy they are to do business with. Tying this into your quality and performance management process gives you the opportunity to react to feedback, train staff to replicate the behaviours that customers like the most, and fix those processes that are causing frustration

6. Capturing the true Voice of the Customer
Only true speech analytics technologies that really let you capture the content of every single call and interaction that’s coming into your contact centre. We believe that speech analytics technology has now reached a level of maturity and affordability where you can quickly determine exactly why customers are calling, examine you’re getting sudden spikes in call volumes, and also highlight those calls that really shouldn’t be happening in the first place. 2012 is the time to find out what your customers are actually calling you about!

7. Helping your agents to make more of a difference
Sabio expects more contact centres to benefit from the latest generation of intelligent agent desktop solutions during 2012. Too many agents are still being burdened with unintuitive workspaces and over complex processes – often requiring the use of multiple systems and applications. Deploying multi-channel agent desktops empowers agents, helps to deliver a noticeably better quality of service to customers, and – done correctly – can also unlock significant operational savings that can be translated into further ‘self-funding’ projects.

8. Video to become a mainstream customer service channel in 2012
Sabio expects more organisations to be putting video to work for customer service support in 2012. The massive popularity of online video sites such as YouTube (with over 30 million UK users), is driving the use of video content to support customer service operations – either through dedicated ‘how to’ videos that extend the power of self-service channels, the integration of QR codes into websites, or through direct agent-to-customer video interactions to help streamline problem resolution.

9. Applying Cloud technology where it can deliver the best value
Cloud computing can play a key role in helping contact centres to operate more efficiently, and can help organisations in striking the right balance between traditional on premise resilience and the flexibility offered by the latest virtualisation and cloud-enabled technologies. 2012 will see an increased emphasis on organisations identifying which customer service solutions can benefit most from being implemented as cloud services, and which still require the resilience and security of on premise deployment.

10. Delivering real added value through Virtual Assistants
Next year Sabio’s Consultants also expect to see the gap between the web and the contact centre get closer through the use of innovative technologies such as Virtual Assistants. These avatar-style animated digital characters support customer service operations by interacting with web visitors, helping customers to navigate their way through interactions, and share relevant information. The latest Virtual Assistant technologies have evolved considerably, benefitting from advanced text recognition and speech generation technologies.

Today's Tip of the Day - Make Self Service A Breeze

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011

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