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  • 04:24:36 am on July 25, 2009 | 1 | # |
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    Is it still all about the experience?

    About a year and a half ago I wrote a column for CIO.com looking at the state of CRM and customer service and proposing that three priorities were emerging: delivering a differentiated customer experience, better leveraging content assets so reps and customers have answers at their fingertips, and tapping into collaboration and social networks. As I discussed a couple posts ago, our recent survey of customer service leaders shows that content (and KM) and social CRM are in fact two of the areas that are attracting additional investment this year despite lower spending overall on customer service. So the last two have definitely been predictions I can live with (remember, I was an analyst at one point…)! But what about customer experience management? The third of the “mega” trends I started to see back at the end of 2007.

    Well…it just so happens that in the same survey, we also asked respondents about their organization’s position on customer experience management. The results are shown below.

    CEM chart

    What is interesting in this data is that not only are more organizations focusing on how to deliver a differentiated customer experience via some “flavor” of CEM (or SEM, if you use KANA’s lingo), but more than a quarter are currently deploying or have finished deploying a CEM program. Another 30% have a CEM strategy and presumably are ready to go once funding is in place.

    What about your organization? With pundits such as Forrester recommending companies keep customer experience top of mind in the current economic climate and some evidence that companies with improving customer service scores can actually boost their share price (see discussion and table in BusinessWeek), are you looking at experience management as an area of investment for the remainder of 2009 and beyond?

  • 05:31:42 pm on June 24, 2009 | 2 | # |
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    Survey Says: CRM spending drops…and shifts to self-service

    eVergance recently conducted our latest industry study looking at the state of customer service and support, with a focus on multi-channel adoption and trends, shifting priorities and where organizations continue to invest despite challenging economic conditions. As part of this, we surveyed 29 customer service leaders in the US and Europe, representing a diverse set of large enterprises in the high-tech, financial, telecom, travel and retail sectors. Some highlights:

    • Companies are cutting back, with 3/4 of the survey respondents reporting lower spending on CRM or customer service this year, but perhaps surprisingly more than 20% indicated that the economy has had no impact on their spending plans this year.
    • The economy has also caused 64% of respondents to focus more on self-service, while nearly 90% of leaders surveyed said that they can show business value or at least have some evidence of the ROI for their Web self-service efforts to-date (see chart below).  What are companies who say they can show business value for self-service using for metrics?  Deflection (ah, our old friend), Completion or Conversion rates for customers using SS vs other channels, and Customer Sat are 3 of the ones most frequently mentioned.
    • Despite evidence of lower spending overall, knowledge management, call center hardware, customer analytics, CDI and social CRM/community (in that order) are all areas that were mentioned by at least 1/4 of respondents as areas which may see additional spending this year.  Interestingly, a couple of these areas (analytics and communities) are also on Gartner’s “Five CRM strategies that companies can undertake now” list published back in May.

    SS ROI chart

    We’ll admit the sample size for our survey is small, but the data is pretty interesting nonetheless, especially since survey participants were mostly at the Director, VP or higher up in their organization.  The global economic climate has impacted spending for sure, but rather than reductions across the board, it’s apparent that funding is being reallocated and even increased in some customer-facing areas like KM, customer analytics and social CRM.

    How has the economy affected your plans this year?  Is improving your customer experience still a priority, or has cost-savings (at least temporarily) taken center stage?  We’d love to hear your comments.  And if you’d like to get a copy of the Executive Summary of our study results, drop me a line!

  • 09:41:48 pm on June 17, 2009 | 0 | # |

    Do you trust what you read online?

    Apparently a lot of people do! According to a Zogby Interactive survey reported by Reuters, not only do more than half of US adults questioned say they would select the Internet if they had to choose only one source of news (TV was next at 21 percent, while newspapers and radio each got 10 percent), but 40 percent also selected the Internet as the most reliable source of news (TV was next at 17 percent, newspapers were 16 percent).

    While this is perhaps old news for those who have been watching many of the big city newspapers struggle (or go under) recently, I am curious whether it relates to how consumers trust online service and support information vs. information provided via other channels such as the call center, hardcopy manuals or even an online forum. Interestingly, the same survey found that only 10 percent of respondents describe social websites as an important source of news, and despite the hype about Twitter, only 4 percent would go to it for information. So, do YOU trust what you read online? Do your customers?

  • 07:32:30 pm on April 28, 2009 | 0 | # |

    Bad economy good for self-service?

    Seems intuitive, doesn’t it? Companies are looking to spend less on service delivery and accelerate their efforts to move interactions to online channels or point-of-sale kiosks. But what about consumers? Well I recently happened upon a new consumer spending survey from Opinion Research as reported in InternetRetailer. Pretty interesting but not so surprising results:

    • Overall, 77% of respondents say the economy has changed the way they shop, with 45% spending less, and 24% looking for the best deal – but 22% said they will spend more this year on the Internet. 36% say the Web accounted for a larger share of their purchases last year, and cited ease of locating items (25%), better discounts (19%), time savings (14%) and convenience (13%).
    • In terms of complaints, the top frustration with online shopping is not being able to speak to anyone who can answer questions (25%) – interestingly “I can talk to a person when I want to” was the #1 factor in creating a positive experience with self-service in a study Harris Interactive did several years ago! Apparently many companies have just not gotten that message.

    Granted these latest data points are more about online shopping than customer support. But I’ll claim that the distinctions between the two are increasingly blurred. Especially as more companies look to turn their contact center into a sales center, and marketing and support leadership is forced to come together to create a “whole” experience for their customers online.

    Even the big CRM and e-commerce platforms are following suit, as functions such as order management, logistics and campaign management may come from the latest version of Siebel, or an integrated e-Commerce platform like IBM Websphere Commerce.

    Of course, just because every flavor of application (or hardware!) may eventually come from Oracle or SAP, and their modules span more and more of the customer lifecycle, doesn’t mean they offer business users complete control over the service experience. Or have the agility to configure a solution on the fly or adjust course mid-stream. But THAT is a topic for another day.

  • 04:55:25 pm on April 16, 2009 | 0 | # |
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    Hello again!

    It’s been exactly one year since I kicked off the eVergance blog with the goal of sharing our thoughts on the state of customer service and support, looking at emerging best practices and technologies, and – hopefully – creating a community of interest which would be greater than the sum of its parts. After 8500 views, 80 posts and several hundred comments to this point, I think we have exceeded my expectations for our little exercise, and shown that there is a place for “evolved thinking” in the Blogosphere!

    I want to thank Esteban for his contributions, insights and wit in nurturing our blog over the past year, and while I don’t know if I can meet the standard (and expectations!) he has set, we have some great contributors and our team is looking forward to our second year of blogging and developing some additional themes as eVergance and KANA go down the exciting and uncharted path of Service Experence Management.

    At the same time, I’d like to re-oriented our focus a bit to get back to basics, if you will. Just as the three-martini lunch has gone out of style in today’s business climate, I think we have to remember why we are here and re-focus on some of the core questions around effective service delivery, such as:

    • what are the remaining efficiency killers in the call center? (we think KM is one solution, and it’s great to see Michael Maoz’s recent post with a similar theme)
    • how do we deliver service on our customer’s terms – while still maintaining control and visibility?
    • how do we find the right mix of channels, and leverage all our investments in systems and content to this point?

    I know there are a lot more questions we have and will tackle. I hope you will continue to check in, offer your suggestions and feedback, and pass on a good word if you like what you see. Look for additional bloggers joining the fun as we ramp up our plans for the remainder of 2009, and we’ll try to provide more frequent, punchier and more news-related posts as well.

    Thanks for reading!
    Allen Bonde, eVergance CMO

  • 12:35:56 pm on April 6, 2008 | 0 | # |

    Starting this month, some of the eVergance practice leaders will be sharing their thoughts on the state of customer service and support, emerging best practices and technologies and our latest research in our new blog.  We’ll also aim to highlight organizations who are truly enabling a “world’s best customer experience” and provide recaps of industry events as well as our monthly Knowledge Sharing Days.  We look forward to your comments!

    Allen Bonde, eVergance CMO