Let's go back to the future--it is time to start planning now for customer service in 2021

Ian Jacobs

This a guest post by Meredith Cain, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

Let’s take trip back to 1989. One of the big movies of that year was  “Back to the Future: Part II.” One of the great things about that movie was its view of the future—or, because so much has time has passed since the film was released, its view of what our present should be like. In the film, Marty McFly and Doc Brown time traveled to October 21, 2015 and had the opportunity observe potential technologies and experiences of the future.  What they saw seems both supremely silly and surprisingly prescient: video conferencing, holograms, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Sure, we don’t all use AR and VR every day, but it is becoming clearer that we soon will.

In Forrester’s new report “Plan Now For Customer Service in 2021,” we assess and evaluate five developing customer service technologies according to their potential impact on the customer service experience in the year 2021. Rather than time traveling, we evaluated the technologies based on their newness, business complexity, and technological complexity so AD&D pros can adequately plan for the necessary amount of time to develop these five technologies and build the appropriate business cases for budgeting.

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The Downside Of Digital Labs For Financial Innovation

Diego Lo Giudice

The race to digital is heating up in financial services (FS) organizations; increasingly, the engine making this happen is Agile. Why? Quite simply, it is software that makes any financial business truly digital. Organizations are therefore in a rush to become great at rapidly innovating, developing, and delivering new software products to win new clients and retain and serve existing ones.

Oliwia Berdak and I have just published twin reports — one for eBusiness and channel strategy professionals, and one for AD&D leaders — that share our findings on how FS organizations are trying to ramp up their digital innovation capabilities rapidly by leveraging Agile and other innovative models. 

Our key finding comes in response to a question: Are you building a digital lab that contains great developers but is isolated from key business leaders and other technology management teams? If the answer is yes, don’t! If separate digital units pursue disruptive opportunities, they will often end up with just front-end apps or proofs of concept that are impossible to integrate and scale with same speed they were developed.

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{Salesforce + Demandware}: DX Reactions and Predictions

Mark Grannan

Salesforce made its largest acquisition ever yesterday, acquiring Demandware for $2.8B.

 

Reaction:

At first glance these two software vendors compliment each other well because there is so little redundancy -- Demandware filling a commerce gap in the Salesforce portfolio. However, it’s more complicated than that. From the DX platform angle, Salesforce is acquiring a competitor.

 

On paper, calling these two competitors is an apples and oranges comparison:

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It's About Time That Salesforce Fixed Its Gaping Commerce Hole

Kate Leggett

Salesforce announced today their intent to acquire Demandware for $2.8 billion – its largest acquisition to date. This move adds commerce to its CRM portfolio. It's an acquisition long due, with the question of why it took Salesforce so long to fill their gaping hole in CRM functionality – commerce functionality that its formidable CRM competitors such as Oracle and SAP already have - and that Microsoft sorely lacks.

Demandware offers an enterprise cloud commerce suite (digital commerce, order management, point-of-sale, store operations), and together, in conjunction with other Salesforce clouds – marketing, sales, service, communities, analytics and IoT – allows companies to support the end-to-end customer journey which include scenarios like asking a product question during an online purchasing process, or purchase a purchase a product or service during an online customer service interaction.

The positives of this acquisitions are:

  • It's a software category with a bright future. The market for B2C commerce suite technology is mature, yet it is growing, and set to exceed more than $2.1 billion in the US alone by 2019. This acquisition allows Salesforce to tap into a growing market, and coupled with their IoT cloud, allows them to also explore personal, high touch retail experiences.
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It’s Risky Doing Digital Half-way

John M. Wargo

I attended a software-related conference recently; I’m not going to say which one as this is about something I observed at the conference, not about the conference itself. Being a software conference, the conference organizers did a lot of the expected digital stuff: registration, reminder emails and conference check-in. Up to the end of the registration process, everything I did with respect to the conference was handled electronically. The first time I went analog was after I picked up my geek badge (conference credentials) from the printer and went over to a human who handed me my badge holder, backpack and requisite stack of sponsor advertisements.

I dutifully loaded the conference app and proceeded to manage my interaction with the event (session schedule, location of special events and so on) through the app. When attending conference keynotes and sessions of interest, I carried my smartphone and tablet, nothing more, and that’s when it got interesting.

One of the things the conference gave me during registration was a pen. I’m a digital guy; I didn’t have any reason to use a pen, so I dropped it on the desk in my hotel room and carried on. As I approached any conference session, the gatekeeper outside the session would try to hand me an evaluation form. Yes, a paper evaluation form. This is what started me thinking about what happens when you only do digital half-way.

Being digital is like jumping out of an airplane: Once you’re out that door, there’s no getting back in the plane.

In this case, the conference had an app, so I expected to do session evaluations in the app. At each session, I politely informed the gatekeeper that I didn’t have a pen, so I couldn’t do the evaluation. They got to know me and eventually started letting me know they’d have a pen for me the next time, but never seemed to come up with one.

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My Mobile Mind Shift Acceleration

John M. Wargo

My Mobile Mind Shift (MMS) happened this year! What’s interesting about this revelation is that I’ve been working in the smartphone industry for more than 10 years now. If that’s how long it took me, and I work in the industry, how long is it going to take the rest of the world? Not much longer, I expect.

I used to work for BlackBerry, so I was involved with early smartphones. At the time, a smartphone was a phone that did ‘more’; it had a browser, email, PIM, and you could make apps for it that allowed you to do pretty much anything you wanted. The definition has changed a bit, and nowadays most of the world thinks that Apple created the smartphone, but experience tells me otherwise.

Anyway, for all these years, I’ve loved having a smartphone – Just having a phone, email and a browser was enough for me. I helped a lot of people write apps for smartphones, and used a few apps myself (Facebook, Fandango, Twitter and Flipboard for example) but my phone wasn’t such an important part of my life that it replaced other things. Actually, having worked for BlackBerry, and being connected all the time, drove me to want to disconnect from access at the end of my day. If I was on the road, you could reach me any time, but while at home. I’d leave my phone in my office at the end of the day. Friends or coworkers would call or email me after hours and not hear back from me until the next morning.

So, what happened? Well, mobile just got easier, that’s what happened. I don’t know how to explain it any other way.

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You Don’t Think You Need An Online Video Platform? Think again.

Nick Barber
If your idea of “doing video” means having a YouTube channel, then you need to up your game. While a freemium player like YouTube can be an important part of an overall video strategy, it shouldn’t be the only part. We detail that and more in Forrester’s Vendor Landscape: Online Video Platforms For Sales And Marketing
 
Last year marked the first time that digital video outpaced every other online activity in time spent. It even eclipsed social media. If your customers are spending time with video, then you need to be there too. 
 
Online video platforms or OVPs used to serve media and broadcasting companies. OVPs took charge in streaming media assets online. They still do, but their roles have expanded and now they serve online sales and marketing operations, too.
 
Video is an important component in each step of the customer journey. Brand videos fit into the discover phase, while product demonstrations are important in the buy segment. User generated content and personalized videos fit into each stage of the process and OVPs support and enable them. 
Online video platforms or OVPs should be an essential part of your strategy because they support your efforts to:
 
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Modern CRM Drives Engagement, Relationship And Revenue

Kate Leggett

CRM technologies are more than two decades old. In the early days of CRM, companies leveraged these solutions to provide "inside-out" efficiencies -  operational efficiencies for sales, marketing, and customer service organizations. CRM aggregated customer data, analyzed that data, and automated workflows for front line personnel.  Companies could easily argue business benefits by measuring operational metrics that were important for the company - like reducing marketing costs, increasing revenues from salespeople, decreasing sale cycle times, better pipeline visibility, decreasing service resolution times, and more.

Because of this quantifiable return on investment (ROI), CRM became a must-have in large organizations and today more than 2/3 of large companies use CRM.

Today, being successful at CRM builds on  yesterday's internal operational and extends the power of these solutions to better support customers through their end-to-end journey to garner their satisfaction and long-term loyalty — a “customer-first” or “outside-in” perspective.

Our data at Forrester shows that good customer experiences correlate to customer loyalty. And loyal customers are more willing to consider another purchase from a company, are less likely to switch business to a competitor, and are more likely to recommend to a friend or colleague – all dimensions that have a direct impact on top line revenue.

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Navigating The New Insights Service Provider Landscape

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

“We are in the business of building [FILL IN THE BLANK], why would we build an insights platform out ourselves.” 

That sentiment will drive more and more companies to explore the insights services option.  Many already feel like they are chasing a moving target. Data and analytics practices are evolving quickly with new tools and techniques moving the bar higher and higher. Not to mention the explosion of data sources, and the dearth of skilled talent out there.  As executives become more aware of the value of data and analytics, they become increasingly dissatisfied with what their organizations can deliver:  in 2014 53% of decision-makers were satisfied with internal analytics capabilities but by 2015 those satisfied fell to 42%.  These are the leaders who will look for external service providers to deliver insights. They realize they might not get there themselves.

The sentiment expressed in the quote above was actually from a consumer packaged goods company.  For its execs winning in cities has become paramount.  As urbanization increases, cities provide big opportunities. But not all cities are alike and differentiating what they take to a specific market requires deep local knowledge – and a lot of diverse data.  To create hyperlocal, timely, and contextually relevant offers, the company needs data on local news, events, and weather as well as geo-tagged social data. All of that must be combined with its own internal and partner data.  

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Facebook Messenger: The Future Of Customer Service?

Ian Jacobs

This a guest post by Meredith Cain, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

As Francis Bacon wrote in 1625, “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” Although he did not write this with Facebook Messenger or customer service in mind, the meaning still applies. If customers will not come to your business, your business must go to the customers. In 2016, customer service application professionals struggle to find common ground where businesses can fulfill as many customers’ needs as possible in a seamless and timely manner. With one out of every nine people on the planet already using Facebook Messenger, businesses should start to capitalize on this consolidation of customers by adopting Messenger, rather than attempting to move the “mountain.”

In our recent report, we argue that customer service application professionals should make plans to incorporate Messenger into their service arsenal. Facebook’s recent announcement of new Messenger tools that include business-friendly innovations, as well as Facebook’s already ubiquitous user base, positions Messenger to serve as the bridge between Muhammad and the mountain. As this metaphorical bridge, Messenger provides customer service pros with:

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