Posts tagged ‘CRM’

The future call centre: 10 predictions for the next 10 years

Guest Blog with NewVoiceMedia

Video-service-198x300What will the call centre of 2025 look like?

Well, to start with, it’s unlikely to be a physical ‘centre’ anymore. The rise of cloud technology is predicted to lead to an increase in remote working. But this move outside the office walls is far from businesses shunning the contact centre.

The omnipresent eye of social media has put companies in the limelight – for good and for bad, pushing customer service right to the top of the priority list. As a result,  looks set to become a key differentiator from now onwards, and the call centre will be at the forefront of this strategy.

Here we explore the trends that look set to transform the call centre in ten years’ time.

1. The call center will become a ‘relationship hub’

For years, many have considered the call centre as a way of dealing with immediate problems. This led to a short-term strategy of dealing with one customer emergency after another – reacting instead of adapting to the needs of the customer. Instead of picking up the pieces when things go wrong, we predict that the contact centre will become an integral part of business strategy, acting as a ‘relationship hub’.

Contact centre agents are the first to know if something isn’t working and are therefore perfectly poised to advise the business. It’s the people on the other end of the phone that know what the customers really think. Customer service can be seen as an afterthought – what happens after the marketing department has reeled them in, but really, it should be part of every stage of business development, supplying sales and marketing with repeat purchasers and advocates, as well as an essential data point for product management and development.

2. Customer service agents will become ‘super agents’

As the call centre becomes an increasingly important part of the business, so do the people that work there. They will need to adapt their skillset to meet the demands of the future customer and the expectations directors place on the contact centre. Plus, with the rise of ‘self-help’ and user communities, only the most complex problems will end up in a call centre. Agents will need to be ready to tackle challenging issues and be able to unpick the situation to pinpoint what exactly went wrong.

It’s therefore not surprising that in the next ten years, the average customer service agent will need to have a much wider range of skills. Aside from excellent communication skills, they’ll need analytical problem-solving skills, project management – and in some cases, technical training, in order to understand the finer details of the product or service. Alongside all of this, customer service agents will need to be able to adapt to changes in technology – from becoming an expert in every new app and social network, to utilising the increasing range of data on their CRM.

3. Call routing systems will find the ‘perfect match’ 

Intelligent call-routing is already available now, but it’s predicted to grow in the next ten years – matching the customer with the right expert almost instantly. As CRM and workflow management systems develop, a complex ‘match-making’ process will occur every time a customer calls, to ensure the right expert is on hand to solve every problem. Many also believe that organisations will begin to publish their agents’ availability online, so that customers can pick the agent that best suits their needs and call them directly.

4. Web chat will become an increasingly popular customer service channel

It can be frustrating to be on the other end of a phone – whether you’re an agent or a customer, the channel has its limits. The success of Amazon Mayday has made video-based live chat a real possibility. The channel has huge potential, because it allows agents to develop a more personal connection with customers through face-to-face chat. Plus, have you ever wanted to show a customer how something works? With video chat, this becomes a possibility. It also eliminates the idea of being put on hold – even if the agent isn’t speaking, the customer is connected via the visual feed. Video web chat also allows contact centres to anticipate problems as customers navigate their website and ensure the right agent pops up at the right time.

5. Customer service will become the key differentiator

With the rise of intangible products, which only exist via your mobile or laptop, customer experience is becoming more important as a differentiator. Consumers don’t just want great customer service, they demand it. In the UK, half of consumers said they would buy from a competitor as the result of poor customer experience. This is similar in the US, with 44% of consumers taking their business elsewhere as a result of inadequate service.

Plus, with the death of sustainable competitive advantage, companies can no longer rely on their well-defined niche to keep them ahead. The elusive ‘experience’ becomes more important and customer service moves straight to the top of the agenda. Add to this the growth of social media and customer service has transformed from a one-to-one interaction to a public conversation. With customer service becoming this transparent, companies have realised they need to up their game. You can no longer hide bad customer service behind closed doors; every business has an online footprint of their successes and failures for all to see. As a result, companies will start to compete to offer the best customer service – with social media recommendations being the ultimate prize.

6. Mobile is the future – for customer service agents and customers

According to the Economist, mobile apps are predicted to become the second most important channel for engaging with brands – just behind social media. And it’s not just about apps, as the mobile phone becomes an increasingly important part of everyday life. It’s how your customers are most likely to get in contact with you – via email, live chat, social media or in a voice call. Companies need to optimise their mobile functionality for this – particularly by allowing customers to multi-task on their mobile. For instance, being able to read the FAQs page while on the phone to the customer service agent. Your customer service agents will make the same demands for mobile. Being able to access a mobile CRM is a key ingredient for flexible working.

7. Expect channel preferences to change (and change again)

As consumers demand a personalised approach to just about everything – they expect to be able to mix & match the customer service channels to create a tailor-made service. However, it’s becoming increasingly hard to predict and plan for the channel-hopping. That’s why we predict that whatever the preference is at the moment, it will change in the next ten years – probably several times. How contact centres are able to adapt to customers switching between channels will determine their success.

This is particularly true if businesses want to appeal to the millennial generation, who are notorious for channel-switching, as they move from mobile to tablet to laptop, all in a matter of hours. Being able to follow those channel hops while maintaining the context of the interaction is key to customer service success. And it’s not just about keeping up with the change in device or channel, businesses need to keep up with the technology itself. New apps and social networks are launched all the time – WhatsApp is a great example of a channel that’s taken off rapidly and is becoming a popular choice for customer service.

8. Voice biometrics will replace security questions

“What’s your mother’s maiden name?” is one of many common security questions, but in the next ten years, it’ll be more about how the customer answers a question than the answer itself which confirms their identity. Gathering the unique ‘voiceprints’ of your customers could be the answer to security problems, as voice biometrics technology develops. It’s much harder to replicate the human voice than it is to steal facts about a customer. Voice biometrics record the intricacies of the human voice – from picking up on the size and shape of the mouth to the tension of the vocal cords.

9. Remote working and location-based services will increase

With the rise of cloud-based SaaS, having all your agents in one place is no longer necessary. It’s actually much more than unnecessary – switching to remote working agents has lots of benefits. This approach can reduce the costs associated with running a call centre and give employees greater flexibility. It is predicted that the growing number of virtual call centres could lead to more location-based services. For instance, a customer calling a company could be automatically connected to an agent working remotely a few miles from their location. The agent could even arrange to meet the customer if necessary, which could be very useful for certain sectors.

10. The “internet of things”

Described by many as the third great wave of computing – the “internet of things” or the “internet of everything” could change the way the world works. With more and more devices being able to connect to other devices or people independently, it gives rise to a world where almost everything is connected. This could have huge implications for the contact centre, enabling businesses to deliver pre-emptive service. For instance, if a patient’s heart monitor is over-heating, the device could send an automated service request to the right team. On a more domestic level, washing machines may be able to self-diagnose problems and notify the manufacturer when the part needs replacing – taking the customer out of the equation altogether.

The implication is that attitudes will shift – instead of buying a product, consumers will be buying a product with built-in customer service, raising the stakes for getting service right.

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NewVoiceMedia are Salesforce Pavillion Partner and exhibitors at Cloud World Forum, taking place on the 24th – 25th June 2015 at Olympia Grand in London.

Don’t miss the chance to take advantage of all the knowledge and networking opportunities presented by EMEA’s only content-led Cloud exhibition.

Register for your FREE exhibition pass here!

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Analytics & Big Data Europe Congress – Registration now open!

analytics-bd-300x220We are delighted to inform you that registration for the Analytics and Big Data Europe Congress, taking place at the Kensington Close Hotel in London between 2-3 December 2014, is now open. (*Free to attend for Enterprises and Telcos!)

The Analytics & Big Data Europe Congress   is your ultimate chance to meet and learn from end-user leading organisations. Consumer insights, marketing, analytics, data experts and more are coming together to provide an in-depth business value case for Analytics and Big Data.

An agenda led by practical examples, advice and real world evidence, with an emphasis on engaging content and interactive formats, delivered by the experience market leaders.

Download the Draft Agenda here!

www.analyticsandbigdatacongress.com

Network and discuss key challenges and opportunities with industry experts:

  • Best in class methodologies to institutionalise big data analytics in your organisation
  • What is your role in driving a cultural shift to a data driven decision making?
  • Draw actionable consumer insights based on your data analytics capacity
  • Integrate analytics with marketing strategy & CRM to build a loyal, long lasting relationship with your clients
  • Discussing advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things and Machine Learning to your IT strategy and how to monetise on them
  • Evaluate the need for a strong digital presence of the organisation: The Web and Social Media
  • Developing and retaining the hard-to-find expert, talented employees
  • Identify how big data analytics can improve efficiency in different departments through successful case studies

New Methods for CSPs by Claire McCarthy thumbnailFREE Industry related content: New Methods for CSPs by Claire McCarthy

Using data to create and monetize new offers or improve performance and customer engagement has been a focus for communications service providers (CSPs) in the last few years. CSPs have huge data repositories at a network, operational, service, application, and customer level, and use analytics suites to obtain actionable insights…

To download New Methods for CSPs by Claire McCarthy, a content piece provided by Ovum, please click here.

We hope you can join us!

Analytics and Big Data Europe Congress 2014 |  Informa Telecoms & Media
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Information Communications Technology (ICT) in the UK: investment opportunities #publicsectorcloud

Cloud computing

The UK cloud computing market is predicted to reach £6.1 billion by 2014 (source: TechMarketView) and offers big investment opportunities for companies in the ICT sector.

18% of UK small medium enterprises (SMEs) use cloud and a further 30% plan to use them in the next 12 months. 81% of established cloud users in the UK plan to increase cloud usage over the next 2 years.

Almost all software companies in the UK are using cloud. Opportunities exist in both the public and private sector for companies offering cloud or linked services.

Public sector opportunities

The UK government’s ICT strategy includes a strong focus on cloud technologies.

The G-Cloud Programme is changing how the public sector buys and uses Information Technology (ICT). This means more opportunities for companies to access government contracts. It’s designed to support the purchase of cloud based services.

By 2015 half of all new ICT spending by the UK government will be on public cloud services through the G-Cloud programme. This provides new opportunities for overseas companies looking to enter the market.

Private sector opportunities

The main reasons for businesses using cloud services in the UK are:

  • flexibility in meeting business demands
  • quicker disaster recovery
  • automation of software updates
  • increased collaboration between employees
  • reduction of costs
  • low cost of using cloud services

Small and medium sized UK companies are adopting cloud into their businesses which often gives them an advantage against competitors.

Opportunities exist across all the different models of cloud solutions, particularly the Software as a Service (SaaS) market, where applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers. Other areas include:

  • email
  • storage and sharing services
  • unified communications (telephone, online chat)
  • video-conferencing solutions

Many businesses are using software tools such as Salesforce automation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and these continue to grow in the UK market. Other related software in demand includes:

  • marketing automation tools
  • social media management
  • email marketing
  • web analytics

Source: www.gov.uk
Published 19 February 2014

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A Cloud on the Horizon and a Fork in the Road Pt.3 #cloudwf @servicesourceEU

A Practical Guide to Transition your Business into the Cloud – Pt.3

Martin Moran, Executive VP Global Selling Services, ServiceSource

Transform, compete, and succeed in the Cloud

If 40 percent of a technology company’s revenue and 50 percent of profits are derived from existing customers, shouldn’t this essential revenue stream be the primary focus of any cloud transformation initiative? Too often, companies place their resources and efforts on gaining new customers – based upon old habits from a premise-based world – rather than engaging existing customers and getting them to buy more.

As we’ve seen from Apple Computer’s success – and the disappointment from Kodak – reinventing a business takes a holistic approach. For premise-based IT vendors making the transition into the cloud, culture, data management and best practices are the foundational underpinnings of any successful recurring revenue business. As they examine their current state and plot a course for the future, companies should place equal emphasis on each discrete component.

Culture

Establishing a renewals culture does not happen overnight. Many companies in transformation often succeed at adopting new technologies and processes or launching new solutions. At the same time, most fail to transform themselves completely because the culture is unwilling to break with the past. In fact, most leading IT companies have jump-started their “SaaS renewal” sales cultures and support organizations through an infusion of new blood via merger or acquisition. Here are some of the top culture characteristics of a SaaS renewal company:

  1. Relentless focus on minimizing churn: A SaaS subscription culture is ongoing and never-ending, characterised by customer engagement, and delivering an exceptional experience – with a constant eye on customer attrition.
  1. Value selling approach:In the past, sales always focused on the “ABCs” – Always Be Closing. In a SaaS world, a salesperson is driven by the motto “a little leads to more” – sell a little, show value, and earn more business. As upgrades are offered and new features added to the SaaS offering, sales reps have an opportunity to strengthen the customer relationship and increase the value of the account.
  1. New vehicles for engagement: SaaS also affords providers with additional ways to enhance the cloud experience. These vehicles can include gamification, and self-service and on-demand capabilities. With a new focus on end-users comes several new ways to drive adoption and usage. Who closed the most deals today? Who had the most satisfied customer service experiences for the day?

Data Management

SaaS and recurring revenue businesses both rely on accurate data to fully understand customer behavior and proactively prevent churn. Unfortunately, every company is awash in company data located in a variety of data silos across the enterprise. In fact, it takes 350 times as much data – across sometimes 5 to 7 different systems – to process a single renewal than a new sale. In addition, basic usage data from SaaS applications don’t always paint an accurate picture of when a customer is about to churn.

With an optimised data management practice, SaaS companies can improve their sales productivity by 25 percent while maximising their recurring revenues. Ultimately, managing the sheer volume and breadth of data associated with existing customers and transforming into actionable analytics becomes a Big Data effort and requires:

  1. Data focus: To accurately predict customer churn and maximise renewals, your data must also be accurate, renewal-ready and align with your business objectives. Many companies are tracking the wrong data or haven’t determined how to use their existing customer data.
  1. System integration: To support recurring revenue activities, many companies must straddle data that’s housed across CRM, ERP, entitlement and other systems. Many companies still rely upon intricate, but manual spreadsheets.   Connecting the dots between these systems can be a painstaking and manual process for sales teams. A typical sales team spends less than 45 percent of their time selling because they are gathering, cleaning and prepping data for calls. Renewal data that’s integrated into a central repository will improve its integrity for analysis, while reducing the toll taken on sales resources.
  2. Drive data velocity: Every successful SaaS provider requires immediate and actionable insight into customer activity. Here, “data velocity” is vital and encompasses built-in business rules, automation and new ways to store and access data. Most importantly, the data needs to be translated into insightful KPIs that drive renewals business while minimising churn. Even for established SaaS vendors, accessing customer usage data is important. Often, this data is trapped in home grown systems that only provide usage updates on a monthly basis.

Best Practices

Maximising SaaS renewals while minimising attrition requires a focused sales discipline and methodology incorporating proactive customer contact to demonstrate value. Unfortunately, nearly 45 percent of customers do not renew because they believe they were not contacted for a renewal.   Best in class SaaS companies employ the following best practices to align the organization – and beyond – around renewals to tap into the full potential of their sales team while maximising customer lifetime value.

  1. Time-bound methodology: In a renewals or subscription sales environment, time is the enemy. SaaS providers must work backwards from the expiration data of a renewal – early engagement at least 120-90 days before expiration is the window of opportunity. And, frequent touch points with the customer should occur prior to initiation of the renewals process.

  2. Real-time reporting and analytics:As discussed, SaaS environments collect valuable customer usage data. By leveraging this data, in conjunction with direct customer feedback, SaaS vendors can anticipate churn, improve cross-sell and upsell, and forecast renewals. Most importantly, analytics supporting renewal activities should be actionable to meet impending renewal deadlines.
  3. Empower and incent the sales teams: Provide the sales and support organizations with the essential systems and incentives they need to accomplish their respective goals.
  4. Lead the channel: Many companies rely upon the channel for up to 90 percent of their sales. So, IT vendors embracing the new SaaS opportunity must lead their channel partners through the cloud transformation. Like their direct sales force, SaaS vendors should provide the same tools, information, and support to their channel partners to ensure long-term success.

Conclusion: The road ahead

IT vendors transforming themselves from a premise model to a SaaS model have the opportunity for a more predictable and sustainable business.   Throughout this journey into the cloud, every IT vendor faces significant risks and is examining their business for answers, hoping to take the “right” fork in the road.

Thankfully, every business can learn from history and today’s successful SaaS businesses for guidance along the way. First, companies must realign their businesses around the renewal opportunity and extract maximum value from their existing customer base – not the next big sale. To accomplish this objective, companies must create an engaged sales culture that demonstrates ongoing value to their customers. Finally, a good combination of proactive engagement, renewal-ready data, actionable analytics, and best practices will provide the foundation for profitable customer relationships – and ultimately a successful transformation into the cloud.

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