A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By Aspect Software The Next-Generation Contact Center

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1 A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By Aspect Software October 2012

2 Table Of Contents Executive Summary... 2 Solid Technology Is A Cornerstone Of A Customer Experience Strategy... 2 Delivering Good Customer Experiences Is Important, Yet Difficult To Do... 5 Customer Service Organizations Are Victims Of Complex Contact Center Technology Evolving To A Next-Generation Contact Center Conclusion: Four Steps To A Better Customer Experience Appendix A: Methodology Appendix B: Supplemental Material Appendix C: Endnotes , Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester, Technographics, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. For additional information, go to [1-JX330Y] About Forrester Consulting Forrester Consulting provides independent and objective research-based consulting to help leaders succeed in their organizations. Ranging in scope from a short strategy session to custom projects, Forrester s Consulting services connect you directly with research analysts who apply expert insight to your specific business challenges. For more information, visit Page 1

3 Executive Summary Today, the gap between a customer s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about the products they use and demand value-added, personalized service in real time, using voice, text-based media like and chat, and social media. They are quick to voice their disappointment about poor customer experiences; social media can amplify these negative views, which can lead to brand erosion. Businesses know that good service is important: 90% of customer service decision makers tell Forrester that delivering good service is critical to their company s success; 63% think its importance has risen. 1 Yet businesses today are battling the ongoing economic pressures of a prolonged global recession. Most companies pragmatically balance the cost of doing business with customer satisfaction. Businesses must be pragmatic about engaging in initiatives that will deliver service in line with customer expectations at a cost that makes sense to the business. One successful way to help move the needle on an improved customer service experience in a way that is cognizant of business cost parameters is by focusing on the technology that is at the heart of contact centers. Next-generation contact center technology allows you to standardize the customer experience across supported communication channels. It provides agents with a unified desktop so they can simultaneously handle multiple interactions; access customer, product, and history data and content at the right point in an interaction; increase their efficiency; and improve the quality of each interaction. This technology also provides managers the flexibility to access real-time reports and analytics to quickly adapt to changing business demands. In addition, improved technology delivers an overall lower cost of ownership. Businesses that fail to focus on their core contact center technology risk being left at a competitive disadvantage. In April 2012, Aspect Software commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the current trends in next-generation contact center technologies through conducting an in-depth survey with 308 US and Canadian Enterprise Customer Service Strategy Decision Makers. Solid Technology Is A Cornerstone Of A Customer Experience Strategy The customer experience is defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has with a company over the duration of their relationship ---- including awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, customer service, and advocacy. Technology plays a large part in delivering these customer experiences: 73% of survey respondents view technology as playing a large to very large role in their customer experience strategy. 2 Equally important is the alignment of a company s contact center strategy with a company s customer experience strategy. Forty eight percent say that their contact center strategy is the cornerstone of their customer experience strategy, and 45% are in the process of aligning their contact center strategy to be able to support their customer experience strategy (see Figure 1). It is comforting to know that only 7% of respondents see their contact center as a cost center that is not aligned with their company s customer experience strategy. Page 2

4 Figure 1 Companies Have Properly Aligned Their Customer Experience Strategy With Their Contact Center Strategy What is the relationship between your contact center strategy and your customer experience strategy? Our contact center is seen as a cost center, and its operational goals are not aligned with our customer experience strategy 7% Our customer experience strategy is defined. We are in the process of aligning our contact center strategy to our customer experience strategy 45% Our contact center strategy is a cornerstone of our customer experience strategy. Strategic goals are well aligned 48% Base: 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Aspect Software, June 2012 Barriers That Contact Centers Face Contact center leaders face barriers that prevent their organizations from making better use of technology to improve their contact center capabilities. It is not surprising that cost is by far the largest barrier for all types of contact center leaders (see Figure 2). Secondary barriers include lack of budget, lack of business agility in choosing technologies that can easily adapt to changing business pressures, and user resistance to adopting or better utilizing current technologies. The actual barriers being dependent on the profile of the respondent: User adoption and lack of business agility challenge respondents who focus on the customer experience. Respondents who view their contact center as a cornerstone of their customer experience strategy state that the second-most important barrier they face is resistance from technology users (29%) and the third-most important barrier is that it is too difficult to change existing business processes (25%). For respondents who are in the process of aligning their contact center strategy with their customer experience strategy, the same two answers tie for the second-most important barrier they face: 34% say that it is too difficult to change business processes and another 34% say that they face resistance from users of the technology. Page 3

5 Lack of budget challenges respondents who view their contact center as a cost center. For respondents who view their contact center as a cost center, the second-most important barrier is no budget (64%) and the thirdmost important barriers are resistance from users of the technology and the difficulty of changing business processes (32% each). Figure 2 Organizations View Cost As The Biggest Barrier To Better Using Technology To Improve Contact Center Capabilities Which of the following barriers prevent your organization from better using technology to improve your contact center capabilities? Our contact center is seen as a cost center, and its operational goals are not aligned with our customer experience strategy. (N = 22) Our customer experience strategy is defined. We are in the process of aligning our contact center strategy with our customer. (N = 140) Our contact center strategy is a cornerstone of our customer experience strategy. Strategic goals are well aligned. (N = 146) Cost is too high No budget Resistance from users of the technology Too difficult to change business processes Incumbent vendor too difficult to replace/ contractual obligation to existing vendor Unfamiliarity with appropriate technologies Difficulty working with IT Unsupportive CEO or upper management Unfamiliarity with appropriate professional services providers None of the above Other 0% 0% 1% 1% 24% 17% 32% 34% 29% 32% 34% 25% 18% 14% 23% 14% 24% 16% 18% 15% 16% 23% 11% 9% 9% 18% 10% 12% 21% 51% 61% 64% 77% Base: 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada (multiple responses accepted) Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Aspect Software, June 2012 Page 4

6 Delivering Good Customer Experiences Is Important, Yet Difficult To Do Because of the decline of the economy and the commoditization of products and services, businesses turn to the customer experience as a differentiator in order to stand out from the crowd. In fact, the survey shows that 67% of organizations say that improving customer experiences is one of their top three priorities. 3 However, organizations today are investing in better customer experiences in a pragmatic way ---- one that balances the cost of serving customers with a focus on creating a competitive advantage, increasing revenue from expanded product portfolios, and increasing investments in improving online/web customer experiences. Figure 3 Organizations Have A Well-Balanced Approach To Contact Center Goals What will your firm s three most important contact center goals be over the next 12 months? Most important Second-most important Third-most important Reducing the costs of serving customers 19% 18% 13% Creating competitive advantage 15% 14% 10% Expanding product offerings to increase revenue potential 19% 12% 8% Improving the online/web customer experience 10% 12% 11% Improving the profitability of customers Improving the experience of interacting with contact center agents Improving the cross-channel customer experience Offering additional communication channels (e.g., , chat, SMS) to existing customers Offering a mobile experience to customers Improving the phone self-service customer experience Improving the store/branch customer experience Offering social channels to customers Catching up to the competition 12% 11% 9% 11% 5% 6% 6% 2% 6% 8% 1% 3% 7% 3% 4% 4% 4% 2% 3% 1% 6% 1% 3% 9% 11% Base: 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Aspect Software, June 2012 Few Companies Deliver Positive Customer Experiences Even though businesses know that they can reap quantifiable business results by focusing on the customer service experience, few businesses deliver good service. In 2012, Forrester reported that only 37% of companies earned a customer experience index rating of excellent or good (the index measures the ease, usefulness, and enjoyment of Page 5

7 doing business with a company). Almost two-thirds of brands delivered an okay to very poor customer experience; most telecommunications companies delivered a poor or very poor experience. Banks, credit card providers, Internet service providers, and health insurance companies had the biggest gap between their top scores and lowest scores, indicating that this segment has a significant number of quantifiable business opportunities. 4 It s evident that delivering good customer experiences is hard. Today s world is increasingly complex; contact centers need to assist customers with more and more complex products and services and are forced to do so with limited resources. As a result, first call resolution and satisfaction metrics decrease. In addition, customers expect to be able to connect with contact centers over a range of communication channels and receive consistent experiences across them. They also demand instantaneous service. Forrester data shows that 45% of US adults will abandon an online purchase if they cannot find answers to their questions quickly; 66% say that valuing their time is the most important thing that a company can do to provide them with good customer service; and 29% say that they prefer to engage with customer service online rather than speaking with an agent. 5 Specifically, contact center organizations struggle to: Use social media effectively when interacting with customers. 58% of survey respondents agree that managing social media inquiries is their top challenge today. Contact centers face an onslaught of social media inquiries, which must be answered effectively to avoid negatively affecting the company s brand proposition. Contact center organizations lack the applications to effectively manage social media escalations, lack the ability to map social identities to customer records in order to better personalize interactions, and often use immature and inconsistent business processes to respond to customers via social channels. Deliver consistent experiences across multiple communication channels. Customers want to use an increasing number of media types when receiving customer service. In the past 12 months, 68% used the phone, 60% used help or FAQs, 54% used , 37% used chat, 20% used SMS, and 19% used a microblogging platform. 6 Contact center agents supporting these media types need access to the same data and information in order to ensure consistent customer experiences. However, over half the survey respondents say that doing so is a challenge. Enable customers to use multiple communication channels during a single interaction. Customers expect consistent, value-added answers across all media. They also expect to be able to start an interaction using one type of media and complete it using another without having to restart the conversation. Survey data shows that 43% of organizations struggle to support customers multichannel journeys. This is not surprising: Forrester data shows a lack of attention to integrating communication channels to provide a seamless experience; only 21% of 7 organizations plan to do so in These communication channels ---- and the agents supporting them ---- are siloed from one another. Agents do not have a full view of prior customer interactions across all supported communication channels, which means that they are unable to personalize and contextualize an answer to a customer request. Manage the workflow of interactions from the front office to the back office. 42% of survey respondents say that they are unable to effectively manage the end-to-end workflow of interactions; this is primarily due to unintegrated applications. This introduces process inefficiencies, affecting productivity and escalating costs. Page 6

8 Enterprises Recognize The Risk Of Not Getting The Technology Right Contact centers are unique in that the impact, risks, and return on investment of technology are clear. Companies continue to struggle to drive a more effective path to improving contact center systems in a more programmatic fashion instead of using a conservative, incremental approach (see Figure 4). Specifically, they struggle with: Poor implementation and technology. Across the board, enterprise managers recognize that their competitors will not sit still. Companies now have the option to drive increased customer support across channels ---- and if they don t, others will. Inconsistent service levels and quality. A poorly architected contact center results in problems that hinder agents from delivering great customer service. It limits supervisors and managers ability to make the day-to-day tactical decisions required to keep service and quality in line with expectations. Loss of efficiency. The ongoing struggle to balance service levels, quality, and efficiency is one of the top concerns when looking at the underlying technology in the contact center. Figure 4 Risks Of Poor Deployment What are the risks of not adopting new technology in the contact center? Competitive disadvantage Inconsistent customer service delivery 61% 60% Internal operational inefficiencies 47% Customer defection 41% High agent turnover rates 29% Long agent training times 28% Penalties for noncompliance 17% Other 1% Base: 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada (multiple responses accepted) Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Aspect Software, June 2012 Page 7

9 Challenges Also Include People And Business Processes Challenges to delivering good customer experiences are not limited to siloed technology that is unable to support customer expectations (see Figure 5); they also revolve around: Staffing -- 57% of survey respondents believe that finding, attracting, and retaining the right workers with the correct skills is the biggest challenge. Business processes -- 52% of survey respondents believe that their technology infrastructure is brittle and inflexibly wired together. Changing business processes is their second-biggest challenge. Data -- 51% of survey respondents struggle with data challenges; creating a single view of customer data and information is their third-biggest challenge. Page 8

10 Figure 5 Customer Experience Challenges Revolve Around People, Processes, And Data What are your organization s biggest challenges to improving the overall customer experience that your contact center currently delivers? Most challenging Least challenging 1 Finding, attracting, and retaining staff with the correct skills 22% 35% 24% 13% 5% Creating a single view of customer data and information 15% 36% 28% 14% 7% Changing existing business processes 15% 37% 27% 16% 4% Gaining user acceptance of new technologies 12% 31% 28% 24% 6% Working with IT to adopt new technologies 11% 23% 35% 23% 7% Lack of budget 10% 20% 31% 22% 14% Coordinating across different technology platforms 10% 41% 34% 12% 2% Measuring results 9% 28% 31% 21% 10% Defining the business case for investment 9% 24% 36% 23% 7% Working with business users to adopt new technologies 7% 28% 40% 18% 5% The contact center is not viewed as mission-critical or of strategic importance to our company 7% 17% 22% 31% 21% Managing data quality 7% 36% 34% 17% 5% Gaining cooperation across the organization to support customer experience management improvement efforts 6% 27% 36% 23% 8% Creating operational reports to drive decision-making 6% 25% 39% 25% 3% Unsupportive CEO or upper management 5% 13% 16% 29% 34% Other 4% 26% 39% 4% 26% Base: 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada (percentages may not total 100 because of rounding) Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Aspect Software, June 2012 Contact Center Agents And Managers Have Specific Challenges The increasing number of media types, including social media, place a significant burden on contact centers, where agents must understand each customer s needs and respond to them in a meaningful and personalized way. Contact center organizations know what a good customer experience is, and know what it takes to deliver it. However, the reality is that organizations struggle to empower their customer service agents and managers to deliver good customer experiences. Here are some examples derived from the Forrester survey commisioned by Aspect (see Figure 6): Page 9

11 Contact center agents are not empowered to set their own schedule. 59% of respondents say that they do a suboptimal job of empowering their agents to set their own schedules and manage their own work times; this leads to agent dissatisfaction and increases turnover. Contact center agents cannot handle inquiries over multiple media. Customers expect consistent answers across all types of media, personalized for the customer and issue at hand. However, 43% say that agents don t have the applications in place to handle inquiries submitted over various media types. In addition, 32% say they don t have access to the right content to answer customer questions consistently and 31% say that agents do not have the relevant customer, order, past product, or past interaction history that would empower them to deliver this value-added service. Customer service agents are not empowered with reporting. Customers expect companies to deliver relevant, value-added answers within the published SLAs. Agents lack the tools to monitor their performance across the media types that they support. 52% say that their reporting is suboptimal. Contact center managers lack the tools to be able to guarantee quality of service to their customers. 45% of survey respondents say that their managers focus on manual and administrative tasks and don t have time for strategic initiatives; 43% say that they do not have access to real-time analytics to manage escalations; 36% say that they cannot manage the quality of customer interactions; and 36% say that they do not have access to reports to understand and manage customer satisfaction ratings across all supported media types (see Figure 6). Page 10

12 Figure 6 Contact Center Managers Are Not Empowered With The Right Strategic Technologies To Gain Insights That Drive Business Results What challenges do your contact center managers face with the contact center technologies that agents use to provide service to customers? Contact center managers focus on manual and administrative tasks like scheduling and coaching and do not have time for strategic initiatives 45% Contact center managers do not have access to real-time analytics to promptly manage escalations 43% Contact center managers cannot effectively monitor the quality of customer interactions 36% Contact center managers do not have access to unified reporting for all communication channels supported to understand the overall performance of their contact center 36% Contact center managers do not have collaboration tools or presence indicators to easily communicate with their workforce and subject-matter experts 31% Contact center managers do not have workforce management tools to understand agent utilization and performance 28% Contact center managers do not have access to reports to ensure that SLAs and KPIs are being met 17% Base: 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada (multiple responses accepted) Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Aspect Software, June 2012 Customer Service Organizations Are Victims Of Complex Contact Center Technology Today s contact center technology environment is complex and brittle, comprised of point solutions which are used to manage customer interaction channels, the agent desktop, knowledge management, agent collaboration technologies, and workforce optimization technologies. Little integration exists between these technologies to support multichannel interactions. For example, Forrester data shows that only 21% of companies are actively working on integrating their communication channels. 8 Page 11

13 Challenges Faced During Technology Implementations Once organizations decide to enhance or improve their contact center technologies, the issues they face are quite similar to the barriers preventing them from making the best use of it. This reinforces the idea that a more incremental approach to contact center technology planning and the lack of a solid architecture create problems during the build and operational phases (see Figure 7). High costs come out on top again. Enterprises consistently state that they feel that both building and operating contact center technology is expensive; it s their top concern. Enterprises that view their contact centers as cost centers feel that these expenses are much more of an issue ---- by a margin of 20 to 26 percentage points compared with companies that feel that their contact center has a more strategic value to their organization. This is not only related to the difference between cost center and strategic component, but also reflects the more limited budgets available to develop a more robust architecture and road map. Infrastructure disruption through rollout. Another issue where there is a large difference between the cost center and strategic component views is the impact an implementation has on a company s infrastructure. Moving to a next-generation contact center means migrating away from proprietary ---- albeit highly reliable ---- hardware and software combinations. The evolution of contact center technology is away from these legacy architectures and toward more standardized servers and web standards-based software that provides higher levels of integration support and manageability. But this can be more disruptive for cost center-focused contact centers that lack longer range architectural planning. Page 12

14 Figure 7 Implementation Challenges Map To Utilization Issues What challenges did you face during your technology implementations? Our contact center is seen as a cost center, and its operational goals are not aligned with our customer experience strategy. (N = 22) Our customer experience strategy is defined. We are in the process of aligning our contact center strategy with our customer. (N = 140) Our contact center strategy is a cornerstone of our customer experience strategy. Strategic goals are well aligned. (N = 146) High cost of implementation Complex integration with existing infrastructure Internal resistance to change Complex integration among contact center applications Longer time and higher resource investment than anticipated Infrastructure disruption through rollout Fear of noncompliance with regulatory policy Unrealized benefits in the expected timeframe Infrastructure incompatibility Performance and availability limitations Not everyone can have access to the solution Don t know Other 9% 0% 2% 1% 0% 0% 2% 53% 47% 45% 54% 41% 55% 42% 40% 36% 27% 37% 32% 35% 30% 41% 21% 24% 27% 19% 25% 23% 22% 23% 27% 20% 20% 25% 23% 18% 16% 19% 73% Base: 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada (multiple responses accepted) Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Aspect Software, June 2012 Implementation Challenges Have An Impact On Agent Capabilities Effective change management is a critical success factor in a contact center technology deployment. Unless the enterprise effectively engages agents in the new capabilities, it will not get a good return on its investment and agents will deliver lower levels of service (see Figure 8). For cost center-focused contact centers, there is a wide difference in the range of implementation issues that impair agent productivity. Getting agents up to speed takes too long. Hiring, training, and retaining agents with the right skills is a perennial issue in delivering good customer service; it s even more problematic for cost center-focused contact centers. For many enterprises, a confusing and poorly designed agent desktop has a critical impact on agent productivity. Page 13

15 Agents are constrained in delivering consistent service across channels. Multichannel support in most enterprises today is implemented in individual silos, so the agent is confronted with different tools to manage a customer contact. Because these tools are tied to different back-end systems, the business process rules can end up being inconsistent, further impairing the agent s ability to provide consistent service. A poor implementation restricts collaboration. Multichannel customer service increases the need for agents to collaborate to drive first call resolution. This problem will only increase over time, as customers increasingly demand to connect over different channels to process a request. Page 14

16 Figure 8 Challenges Translating Technology To Agent Productivity What challenges do your contact center agents face with the technologies they use to provide customer service? Our contact center is seen as a cost center, and its operational goals are not aligned with our customer experience strategy. (N = 22) Our customer experience strategy is defined. We are in the process of aligning our contact center strategy with our customer. (N = 140) Our contact center strategy is a cornerstone of our customer experience strategy. Strategic goals are well aligned. (N = 146) Training takes too long for contact center agents to become proficient Contact center agents cannot easily deliver consistent customer experiences across communication channels using common business rules Contact center agents do not have an easy way to collaborate with one another or with subject-matter experts to quickly resolve problems Contact center agents must use multiple desktops to manage voice, chat, , and social inquiries, as these inquiries are all queued differently Contact center agents don t have the context of an inquiry that is escalated to them from a self-service interaction and have to restart the conversation over with the customer Contact center agents don t have access to the back office to be able to effectively answer questions like Where is my order? Contact center agents don t have access to relevant and reliable content to answer customer inquiries 15% 27% 34% 41% 30% 30% 23% 25% 29% 25% 41% 38% 43% 37% 39% 38% 36% 41% 55% 55% 64% Contact center agents do not have relevant customer or order history to personalize an interaction 16% 32% 25% Other 0% 1% 3% Base: 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada (multiple responses accepted) Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Aspect Software, June 2012 Evolving To A Next-Generation Contact Center Today s contact center managers recognize the competitive challenges and opportunities that delivering consistent service across channels presents. However, only rarely do they have the luxury of starting with a clean slate and a blank check to design, build, and deploy the ideal multichannel contact center. The benefits of improved customer service coupled with better efficiency are achieved only by having a vision and a strategy and translating those elements into a solid plan for a next-generation contact center. Page 15

17 Defining Information technology evolves based on both market need and vendor innovation. Contact centers have moved more slowly than other technology markets because of the very conservative way enterprises buy and deploy it. The move to software-based systems started in the mid- 90s and is still very much a work in progress. Additional stimulus in today s market comes from rapid innovation and advances in consumer use of new technologies for communications and collaboration. This is the challenge enterprises face in evolving to a next-generation contact center. To move toward the next-generation contact center, enterprise IT architects need to consider a number of attributes: Reliability. Because contact centers still largely process voice transactions, they still need to fulfill the requirement of high availability. Downtime directly translates into lost agent productivity and affects customer service levels. This will not go away, so it presents a perceptual barrier for enterprise managers when considering future architectures that are standard server- and software-based. Legacy proprietary systems achieved high reliability by extensive vendor design, testing, and delivery of closed architectures that prevented unanticipated interactions between systems. But this is no longer sustainable today ---- and the market has moved to web standard software-based systems. High reliability can be achieved, but in a different way than contact center managers are familiar with from prior experience. Flexibility. A poorly architected contact center creates issues that impair agents from delivering great customer service. Contact centers have historically integrated a number of best-of-breed, proprietary software- and hardware-based components that were difficult and expensive to maintain. Making changes to business rules is also difficult. Many contact center managers simply make do with the existing configuration instead of working to optimize contact flow rules. Finally, reporting from these diverse systems presents the challenge of having many sources of the truth and limited analytical abilities. Standard software suites versus best-of-breed components. More and more contact center managers are looking to consolidate the range of diverse components in their contact centers by adopting integrated suites. This is in line with the general IT trend to consolidate supplier relationships, but it also attacks the problem of the many integration pain points that plague contact centers. Improving the agent, supervisor, and management user experience. As this study has shown, contact center managers understand and are concerned about the negative productivity impact that a poor implementation has on agents, supervisors, and contact center managers. This ties directly to meeting service levels in a cost-effective manner and impairs the contact center from evolving to a true multichannel operation demanded by consumers. Standardizing the underlying infrastructure. The integration of voice and data networks onto a common IP infrastructure leveraging SIP signaling sets the stage for a more flexible multichannel contact center. SIP inherently supports multichannel, as it was developed to support all media types of communication ---- not just voice. Contact centers depend heavily on software applications having access to the state of a contact, so the use of the SIP standard has helped enormously to eliminate the complexity of managing multichannel communications on one software platform. The ease of integration of common productivity tools. Agents, supervisors, and contact center managers need to use productivity tools to develop documents, collaborate using unified communications, run reports, and Page 16

18 analyze data. Instead of using separate tools specific to each best-of-breed component, today they can leverage commonly available productivity suites for those capabilities. Conclusion: Four Steps To A Better Customer Experience Forrester believes that a good customer experience correlates to loyalty and increased lifetime customer wallet share, as measured in three classic categories: willingness to consider the company for another purchase, likelihood to switch business to a competitor, and likelihood to recommend to a friend or colleague. 9 This direct correlation between a good customer experience and positive business value is evident across the more than 40 industries that Forrester surveyed. Improving the customer experience is also good for internal operations. Companies that have invested in delivering better customer experiences report reduced operational costs, greater productivity of their frontline personnel, and greater business agility ---- a necessary requirement to stay ahead of the competition. Delivering optimal customer experience is a multi-year modernization and transformation project for the contact center that takes a coordinated effort across four dimensions ---- strategy, process, technology, and people management. Start by articulating your customer experience strategy. Your customer experience strategy identifies the customers your organization intends to serve and articulates the customer experience you want to deliver across all communication channels and all company touchpoints that are in line with your brand proposition. Focus on the right processes for your customers. Processes that customer-facing personnel follow to serve customers have to be consistent across all media types supported, effective in meeting customer requirements, and agile so they can be changed to support a business changing needs. Choose technologies that empower your agents to deliver excellent experiences. Contact center technologies are at the heart of the solution for providing optimal customer experiences. Contact center technology must be able to standardize the customer service experience across media types, including social media; empower agents with contextual customer, product, and service information; allow agents to easily collaborate to quickly resolve inquiries; and provide managers with the right analytics to track outcomes that have a business impact. Focus on the user experience to drive contact center architecture. Not only is it important to design a system that delights consumers, but enterprises must also consider the agent, supervisor, and contact center manager user experience. Developing a solid customer journey map that reflects the enterprise customer experience strategy and vision is important. At the same time, the architectural views of agent, supervisor, and contact center manager must be incorporated into the analysis and design. Don t forget about your people. How people are organized and led are important factors that affect customer service success and make up your organization s corporate culture, leadership practices, collaboration methods, training programs, and performance measurement approaches. It s also important to empower your agents to do the right thing for the customer. They are, after all, your most important asset. Page 17

19 Appendix A: Methodology Forrester conducted an online survey of 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada in June 2012 in order to evaluate the current challenges they face and assess the investments they have made or are planning to make in contact center technologies to overcome those challenges. 89% of survey respondents were from the US; 11% were from Canada. 26% worked for large organizations (1,000 to 4,999 employees); 31% worked for very large organizations (5,000 to 19,999 employees); and 43% worked for organizations with 20,000 or more employees. 19% had 50 to 249 contact center seats within their organization; 22% had 250 to 499 seats; 17% had 500 to 999 seats; 19% had 1,000 to 5,000 seats; and 23% had more than 5,000 contact center seats. Survey respondents had midlevel tosenior-level job titles. 55% of survey participants work in IT/technology groups, while 45% work in business groups. All respondents had direct knowledge of their contact center strategy and operations. Appendix B: Supplemental Material Related Forrester Research The State Of Customer Experience, 2010, Forrester Research, Inc., February 19, 2010 Craft Your Contact Center Investment Plans In Light Of Technology Adoption Patterns, Forrester Research, Inc., November 7, 2011 The Customer Experience Index, 2012, Forrester Research, Inc., January 23, 2012 Contact Center Purchase Plans 2011, Forrester Research, Inc., October 27, 2011 The Business Impact Of Customer Experience, 2011, Forrester Research, Inc., July 7, 2011 Appendix C: Endnotes 1 Forrester surveyed 141 customer experience decision makers from large North American firms. 90% said that the customer experience would be either very important for or critical to their 2010 efforts. 2 Forrester surveyed 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada in June 2012, in a survey commissioned by Aspect. On a scale of 1-5 (where 1 is very low and 5 is very high) 73% of respondents said that their contact center technologies were rated a 4 or 5 as a key component of their company's overall customer experience strategy. Page 18

20 3 Forrester surveyed 308 enterprise customer service strategy decision makers in the US and Canada in June 2012, in a survey commissioned by Aspect. 33% of respondents stated that an improved customer experience is their top priority; 15% stated that it is their second-highest priority; and 19% stated that it is their third most important priority. 4 To assess the state of customer experience in 2012, Forrester fielded its North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q (US), which asked 7,638 US consumers about their interactions with a variety of companies. Based on their responses, Customer Experience Index (CxPi) scores were calculated for 160 brands in 13 industries. This year s rankings show that only about one-third of brands earned excellent or good CxPi scores, with the rest ranging from okay to very poor. Retailers and hotels continue to be the two highest-ranking industries, while health insurance providers, TV service providers, and Internet service providers (ISPs) continue to own the cellar. 5 45% of US online consumers agree with the statement that I am very likely to abandon my online purchase if I cannot find a quick answer to my questions, and two-thirds agree that Valuing my time is the most important thing a company can do to provide me with good online customer service. 6 Forrester asked 7,638 US consumers which communication channels they had used to receive customer service in the past 12 months. Source: North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q (US). 7 In Forrester s Forrsights Networks And Telecommunications Survey, Q1 2011, only 21% of buyers indicated that they were going to invest in multichannel integration. This implies that many customer service organizations are going to continue to choose a best-of-breed approach to support multiple channels in their contact centers. This will continue to limit the firm s ability to report on the full scope of customer interactions across different channels and make business rule changes harder to deploy. 8 Source: Forrsights Networks And Telecommunications Survey, Q Years of Forrester data confirm the strong relationship between the quality of a company s customer experience (as measured by Forrester s Customer Experience Index [CxPi]) and loyalty measures like willingness to consider the company for another purchase, likelihood to switch business, and likelihood to recommend. That data was used to build simple models that show how changes in loyalty associated with higher CxPi scores can affect a company s yearly revenue. Page 19

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