Customer Centricity
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Delighted Customers.

Issue #182

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eight Customer Service Trends for 2013 - Part 2
by Harry W. Heermans

In the previous newsletter, we outlined four of eight trends for 2013 in customer support. In this issue, we complete the list.

Trend 5: Move to the Cloud

According to a recent IDG survey, deployment of business applications to the cloud rose from 20% of respondents in 2011 to 30% in 2012, with another 28% planning to. Forrester's estimates are even higher, with 70% of businesses either using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for horizontal business processes like CRM or are interested in doing so. For customer service departments specifically, a poll of over 2500 webinar participants sponsored by Interactive Intelligence showed that almost one-third (31%) have already moved their contact center applications to the cloud or plan to, and another 29% are investigating the option.

The benefits to cloud computing include:

  • Increase in flexibility - Scaling up or down is easier, as is adding applications.
  • Faster deployment time - Contact centers coming off legacy systems and looking to implement new technology can get up and running much more quickly than when deploying premise-based solutions.
  • Lower capital investment - SaaS usually charges on a pay-as-you-go basis, rather than having to write a big check up-front.
  • Reduced I/T focus - Using cloud software allows customer service departments to concentrate on their primary mission of satisfying customers rather than overseeing an I/T operation.

Companies resisting the move to the cloud most often cite security and compliance issues. Recent public revelations of high profile security breaches continue to make companies reluctant to move applications off-premise. Likewise, companies in heavily regulated environments, especially those with stringent privacy requirements, must be able to demonstrate how they comply when data is moved across the Internet.

As Kate Leggett of Forrester says, "SaaS requires new ways of thinking about vendor selection, contracting, risk tolerance, and organizational skill set requirements." Clearly, with 60-70% of companies having already deployed cloud computing or planning to, the move is in that direction.

Trend 6: Mobile computing

Almost one-third of all customers in the U.S., 31%, use mobile apps on a daily basis, according to the Temkin Group, and usage is growing. IDG estimates a 20% increase in the sales of mobile devices in 2013 and by 2015 more U.S. consumers will access the internet via mobile devices than via computers. With the proliferation of mobile phones and tablet computers, eBusiness professionals have taken notice, with two-thirds of them (68%) agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement, "Our senior leadership team understands the importance of mobile."

To handle the mobile boom, companies are increasing staffing. By one measure, from 2010 to 2011 eBusinesses doubled the staffing devoted to mobile efforts from 5.8 to 10.4 workers. Many of those workers are developing mobile apps or sites. When asked, "Which group within your organization is responsible for deploying mobile customer service applications?" nearly one-half, 46%, cited their I/T organization, with only 6% mentioning the contact center customer care group. This raises a red flag, because it means for 94% of customer service departments, they are willing to assume the risks of having another department deploy mobile apps crucial to their mission.

Another challenge facing mobile customer service is how to handle customers whose transactions move from phone to tablet to computer and back. IBM estimates mobile devices account for one quarter of e-commerce visits but only 15% of purchases. According to Google, 85% of customers start shopping on one device and purchase on another. The problem is that devices are not synchronized, so for example items saved in a virtual shopping cart on one device are not saved to another. More companies are solving this problem by offering login capabilities to a cloud-based server from any device; once logged in, no matter what the device, data is attached to a common account and saved.

Trend 7: Vendor consolidation

The past several years have seen a number of large-scale customer service application vendor acquisitions. Oracle purchased RightNow for $1.5B, Microsoft acquired Yammer for $1.2B and Salesforce bought Radian6 for $326M. This activity can be expected to continue, especially for vendors in the SaaS and social media space.

This will be advantageous to some customers of these vendors, because they will not have to integrate single point solutions themselves and deal with multiple contracts. The downside is that contact centers that are in the market for CRM systems whose vendors are potential acquisition targets must increase due diligence in their evaluation process. Furthermore, customer support departments who have already deployed software from an acquired company are at the mercy of the acquiring vendor, which may alter the functionality of the software in ways the customer objects to.

Trend 8: "Big data" and text analytics

The newest buzz word in enterprise data analytics is "big data." In connection to customer service, it refers to the gathering of data from all customer touch points, from all communication channels, then storing it, analyzing it, and making decisions based on it.

Large companies are moving aggressively into "big data." More than one-half of companies with Voice of the Customer programs are already using it or intend to. For example, 36% are now doing text analytics, exploiting technology now available to analyze unstructured content like survey comments, call center conversations, social media comments, and chat transcripts. Another 36% intend to use text analytics in the future. Predictive analytics is growing as well, with 26% using it and 28% intending to do so.

Because this is a new field, obstacles remain. Only one-third of companies believe they are effectively integrating CRM data and analyzing social media conversations appropriately. Also companies will be challenged to find data scientists with the right skill set to analyze and interpret data in a way that provides actionable customer service plans.

If these trends are affecting your organization and you would like guidance in dealing with them, Customer Centricity stands ready to help. Contact us to see how our assessment methodology, actionable plans, and project leadership can generate success.


Available Talent

As our clients can attest, Customer Centricity talent is comprised of seasoned resources with "scars of experience" who bring incredible focus to drive key business initiatives to successful conclusion. An example of a resource currently available is:

Experienced customer support leader, pioneering a proactive customer care model incorporating best practices and forward-looking trends to guide organizations through strategic, tactical, and operational change. Specific experiences include:

  • Startup implementation: Built technical and customer support departments from the ground up for six fast-paced startups, driving them from concept to fully functioning operations in a variety of industries.
  • Global leader: Engineered the merger of two multi-national customer care operations, then directed the combined organization spanning three continents. Founded a contact center in India.
  • Revenue focus: Transformed a customer support division from a cost center to a multi-million dollar profit center. Turned a call center with a 72% budget deficit into one with a 29% surplus. 
  • Technology management:  Installed a variety of CRM systems, ranging from $15K to $2 million, with one implementation featured in CRM Magazine. Directed a $1 million global Automated Call Distribution project. Managed software engineering projects, Quality Assurance teams, and Computer Operations. 
  • Process improvement: Crafted SOPs, SLAs and metrics to insure customer satisfaction and loyalty that comply with federal and international standards (e.g., FDA, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, Basel III).
  • Staff building: Fostered staff-friendly workplace culture through coaching and mentoring, resulting in retention rates twice the industry average. Cited by three CEOs for team building skills.
  • Training: Designed, developed, and delivered hands-on end-user courses for three organizations. Coordinated a 40 course university computer curriculum and taught at four colleges. Delivered an action plan for improving training for the world's leading product lifecycle management software company.
Our primary objective is to make you look good through the successful completion of your business-critical initiatives. In addition, we seek to serve as a mentor to effectively transition and/or develop key skills in your organization so that you are not dependent on external resources for the long term.

If you'd like to learn more about how Customer Centricity can help you, please contact us. We're happy to serve as a sounding board and determine if there is real potential to assist you.

In This Newsletter

  • Eight Customer Service Trends for 2013 - Part 2
  • Available Talent

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Recommended Reading

For a comprehensive guide to Customer Relationship Management, you are encouraged to read CRM In Real Time: Empowering Customer Relationships.

As described on

This comprehensive guide to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) draws on Barton Goldenberg's 20+ years of experience guiding firms to a successful implementation of CRM solutions and techniques. Goldenberg demonstrates how the right mix of people, process, and technology can help firms achieve a superior level of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and new business. Beginning with a primer for executives who need to get quickly up-to-speed on CRM, the book covers a full range of critical issues including integration challenges and security concerns, and illuminates CRM's key role in the 24/7/365 real-time business revolution. CRM in Real Time is an essential guide for any organization seeking to maximize customer relationships, coordinate customer-facing functions, and leverage the power of the Internet as business goes real time.


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  • Improve the Customer Experience and Operational Performance
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