Most Organizations Are Preventing Front Line from Delivering the Best Customer Experience Possible
The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) in partnership with LiveOps, a cloud contact center and customer service solutions provider, has released the 2015 report, "Own the Moments! Understanding the Customer Journey." The report reveals that only 53 percent of organizations have a formal customer satisfaction program, and that 74 percent actually admit to preventing their front line from providing the best possible customer experience possible despite the fact that customer engagement and loyalty were identified as important priorities for all respondents. Report findings were derived from the responses of more than 400 surveyed professionals from virtually every role and level in contact centers and customer service organizations.
To truly be best in class, organizations must effectively leverage their talent, technology, and metrics to proactively anticipate and fulfill customer needs and expectations. The research dives into the challenges, strengths and opportunities that exist for organizations working towards perfecting their customer journey. The report organizes these aspects into five key moments - the essential points at which agents can delight customers and often define a brand. These moments are opportunities for organizations to seize or 'own' in order to yield the greatest possible customer experience:
• Moments to Empower: The customer service agent owns "the moment," and has the greatest impact on the customer experience as they drive the initial interaction. Yet despite the recognized importance of the agent, nearly 75 percent of those surveyed knowingly hinder their team from providing the best customer experience. 62 percent of respondents cited the agent as the most critical touch point of the customer journey, while only 14 percent empower their agents to provide top-notch customer experiences.
• Moments to Inspire: Improving employee/agent training ranked as one of the top issues that contact centers wanted to overcome. A majority of contact centers do not empower their agents to their fullest potential, resulting in low employee engagement and customer satisfaction.
• Moments to Excel: 98 percent of respondents agree that real-time information is vital; however more than one-fifth of organizations have zero visibility into basic information such as contact history. Failing to equip agents with the correct tools and latest technologies results in the loss of insight into the basic information needed to provide proper customer service.
• Moments to Enlighten: For the first time customers are fully in control, as a result, companies are rushing to utilize performance data to successfully fulfill the needs of their customers. Many organizations claim customer satisfaction as a top priority, while only half have an actual Customer Satisfaction Program in place.
• Moments to Delight: Alarmingly, nearly 80 percent of respondents felt that their customers are not extremely engaged with their company. As a result, customers view their relationship with such organizations as disposable. Putting customer satisfaction at the forefront of organizational goals is imperative to improving engagement and securing customer loyalty.
Gartner Survey of More Than 2,800 CIOs Underlines Regional Differences Between CIOs
CIOs around the world are facing high levels of uncertainty as 2015 gets underway, according to a global survey by Gartner, Inc. The 2015 survey showed that issues experienced by CIOs are far from universal and real differences exist at both a regional and country level.
Gartner has been conducting a global CIO survey for more than 10 years, with the 2015 survey reaching 2,810 respondents in 84 countries, and representing nearly $400 billion in IT budgets and a combined $12 trillion in public sector budgets and private-sector revenue.
CIOs in the U.S. report an IT budget increase of 0.9 percent for 2015. While the average growth in IT budgets is marginally smaller in the U.S. than the rest of the world (0.9 percent vs. 1.1 percent), only one of eight CIOs in the U.S. is facing a decreasing IT budget.
Looking beyond the Nexus of Forces (cloud, mobility, social and big data) and into the next generation of disruptive "SMART" technologies — sensors, maker machines (3D print), augmented humans, robotics and thinking machines — the survey revealed that for every category, the percentage of U.S. CIOs that says "not relevant right now" is larger than their global counter parts.
However, when looking at the number of companies that either have already invested or are actively experimenting, U.S.-based CIOs are — with the exception of the Internet of Things (IoT) — ahead of their global peers as those who have picked up on these technologies and have moved to either experiment with them or deployed them to a larger degree than their global peers.
The survey results also indicate that CIOs in the U.S. believe that they are taking a larger role as digital leaders (54 percent vs. 43 percent of global CIOs), they see themselves spending more time as visionary leaders than their global peers (23 percent vs. 21 percent) — yet only 34 percent of CIOs in the U.S. has a chief operating officer (COO), whereas 53 percent globally have a COO.
CIOs in China revealed an IT budget increase of 8.5 percent, way above the global average of 1.1 percent. Historical data shows that the IT budget at enterprises in China is much lower than the global average. This means that the high increase of IT budget is coming from a very low base.
While globally 47 percent of CIOs believe they have the digital leadership responsibility for their business, only 33 percent of CIOs in China do. This indicates that most CIOs in China are still seeing themselves as traditional CIOs taking care of traditional IT responsibilities (such as to support the business process running), and letting other senior executives take the digital leadership roles. CIOs in China should be more proactive and devote themselves to the digital world so that they can demonstrate their value to the business.
U.K. and Ireland:
A generally positive outlook is translating to growth in average IT spend in the U.K. and Ireland, with CIOs expecting to increase IT budgets by 1.4 percent in 2015. In addition to this increase in the IT budget, there is an increasing amount of investment in IT occurring across the enterprise, with more than 21 percent of IT investment taking place outside of the official IT budget. As CIOs emerge from a long period of cost-cutting and restricted IT budgets, there is a renewed focus on strategic investments in information and technology that will enable business growth.
One measure of CIO leadership and influence in the enterprise is the amount of time spent with senior business stakeholders compared with the amount of time managing the IT organization. CIOs should aim to spend a majority of their time working with the rest of the business to ensure that the value of information and technology is understood and the right investments are made. In 2015, leading CIOs will spend less than 40 percent of their time running the IT organization, choosing instead to spend time with other CxOs (27 percent of their time), business unit leaders (18 percent of their time) and external customers (16 percent of their time).
CIOs in the U.K. and Ireland also show a progressive attitude toward emerging SMART technologies. A significant minority of CIOs have moved beyond monitoring the trends to actively investing and deploying solutions. This is especially true for robotics (9 percent) and IoT (10 percent).
In the 2015 survey, Latin America had the lowest increase in regional forecast budgets in comparison with other regions (0.4 percent), indicating a cautious approach to new expenditures when compared with the previous year. Such a small increase in IT budgets also suggests that companies will seek cost-optimization efforts in order to free some money for new IT expenditures that might be necessary.
Investments in the public cloud are important for companies that wish to thrive in the digital business era. Although less relevant than for global respondents, more than 50 percent of companies in Latin America already consider infrastructure as a service (IaaS) either as a first option or include the cloud as one of their options before making final decisions. Likewise, investments in mobile applications are increasingly becoming the first priority when enhancing or designing new applications. "Mobile first" has become the main strategy for 25 percent of Latin American CIOs when dealing with customer-facing applications. In a mobile-driven digital world, this is an immediate call to action that CIOs and organizations should review their development strategies and priorities to start considering mobile as at least a secondary option.
IT Leaders Will Need to Develop a Stronger Relationship With Marketing
In 2015, IT leaders supporting marketing will need to build a stronger partnership with marketing and help to evaluate solutions (architecture, functionality, scalability, performance and security), source data, manage and consolidate the application portfolio, and integrate solutions.
Gartner has made a number of predictions about marketing technology investments, including:
By 2018, CIOs who build strong relationships with CMOs will drive a 25 percent improvement in return on marketing technology investment.
Marketing is a high area of technology investment, and that investment continues to grow rapidly with digital marketing expansion. Gartner has found that many large companies, particularly business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, have more than 50 applications and technologies supporting marketing. Managing this portfolio and generating customer value from these technologies requires a more integrated and consolidated approach, but not at the expense of marketing's ability to innovate in digital marketing.
By 2018, B2B sellers that incorporate personalization into digital commerce will realize revenue increases up to 15 percent.
Personalization enhances the relationship between a buyer and seller, making the buyer feel recognized, appreciated, respected and efficient. Today's consumers expect recognition, to be valued and to have a personalized experience; they have little tolerance for inefficiency. These expectations will be even higher for business buyers who typically have longer-standing relationships with their suppliers and spend higher amounts with them.
Personalization also enables sellers to remain competitive and drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy as well as increase profitability. Consumers who have personalized experiences spend more. Companies that incorporate personalization into B2B digital commerce strategies will make their business customers more efficient, provide a better customer experience and increase the likelihood of greater purchase value as well as upselling and cross-selling — all leading to greater revenue.
Through 2018, voice of the customer (VoC) initiatives that don't share data across the enterprise will compromise customer satisfaction and loyalty measures by 30 percent.
VoC solutions collect, analyze and act upon the vast array of customer feedback sources that are potentially available, ranging from surveying to social media to speech analytics. It is an increasingly popular area of focus due to the business value that is obtained from acting upon the derived insights. However, VoC's ownership is currently inconsistent with different constituents who are taking responsibility within different organizations.
It's that time again - time for budgeting, prepping and analyzing the year's results to see how we can improve next year. According to CorvisaCloud's recent survey,even though 60% of consumers think customer service has improved since last year there are definitely still areas businesses can refine.
With that in mind, here are CorvisaCloud's contact center predictions for 2015:
1. Large Enterprises Will Adopt Cloud Communications
Enterprises have historically been known to sit on the sidelines until technology has fully matured. Now that the cloud has been around for a while, common misconceptions such as lack of security, compliance and functionality are no longer at doubt. The enormous investment cloud providers are making to stay compliant and secure will help growing numbers of enterprises to see that they can ensure security standards and increase savings while minimizing their investment in hardware and maintenance. The flexibility, security and cost of the cloud have proven that it is here to stay, and more enterprises will be drawn to the cloud by the ability to gain flexibility with less effort.
2. Security as a Top Priority
With big names such as JP Morgan, Michael's and Home Depot experiencing data breaches during 2014, companies of all sizes are bringing security to the top of their 2015 planning. Knowing that data breaches come with hefty financial implications and can hurt a company's image overnight, businesses will go the extra mile to protect sensitive data. Security will be a top influencer for businesses when choosing cloud providers, and cloud providers will work to make their security and compliance procedures even more transparent. We foresee data and recording encryption emphasized at a greater level than what has been done to date.
3. A Focused Investment in Employees
2014 was the year of customer success. For 2015, we predict we will see companies investing more in their employees and agents. After all, your employees are the foundation of customer success. Proper training and boosting employee morale will be key for any business that wants to stay competitive. Integrated contact center tools such as gamification and workflow automation tools will be just a few of the ways contact centers will help agents improve performance and boost confidence. Eighty percent of consumers said their phone interaction with a customer service agent feels scripted and robotic.* We see more businesses adopting these new cloud tools to humanize their customer experience and break away from older tools that force agents to read call scripts word-for-word.
4. Mobile Equality
Mobile applications are nothing new, but as we predicted last year, mobile phones are becoming increasingly preferred over desk phones. In 2015 the emphasis will be on giving agents and employees the same user experience - whether they are at home using a softphone, on a computer using a desk phone or in the car using their mobile device. We see more customers demanding features that create a seamless transition between the desk and mobile environments, such as the ability to configure phone settings or integrate with customer data. Cloud communications providers will be focused on enriching the capabilities of their mobile applications in response to this demand.
5. Increased Demand for Customization
Based on experiences with our customers in 2014, we predict more businesses will be looking for technology solutions that can be customized to fit their specific needs. Until recently, SaaS and PaaS have often been thought of as separate alternatives in the contact center space. However, with the demand for flexibility, more customers will be looking for hybrid SaaS/PaaS solutions that offer both out-of-the-box ease and advanced customization options.
Nearly Three-Quarters of U.S. Companies Expect Their Demand for Middle-Skills Jobs to Increase
Nearly three-quarters of U.S. companies (73 percent) expect an increase in their demand for “middle-skills” jobs – that generally require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree – over the next few years. At the same time, more than half (56 percent) of those surveyed are struggling to find people with the qualifications to fill existing middle-skills vacancies, according to new research from Accenture.
This lack of talent is having a direct impact on corporate performance: almost seven in 10 (69 percent) of respondents indicated that the middle-skills shortage regularly affects their performance and more than one-third (34 percent) believe that the dearth of middle-skills workers has significantly undermined their productivity. The Accenture research also identified the hardest-hit sectors and consistently hard-to-fill positions.
The survey of more than 800 human resources executives is being released in advance of an upcoming report by Accenture, Burning Glass Technologies and Harvard Business School (HBS) that examines the impact of the middle-skills gap on U.S. competitiveness and provides targeted solutions for employers, educators and policymakers to improve their talent pipeline for middle-skills positions.
According to the HR survey, inadequate training and lack of experience were seen as the leading impediments to filling middle-skills positions: 54 percent of respondents said “trained talent is difficult to find” and 50 percent said “sufficient experience is not easy to find.” Other major contributors to the middle-skills gap include insufficient training and upskilling opportunities for current or prospective employees. Just two in 10 respondents (22 percent), including those who said their company is having trouble filling job vacancies, said they always are willing to consider hiring a new employee who requires additional training.
Four imperatives to solve the middle-skills gap
Accenture recommends employers consider the following four steps as a way to improve their talent sourcing, development, deployment and retention cycle:
Map future talent needs. Eight in 10 executives surveyed (80 percent) agree on the need to be proactive about building a talent pipeline for middle-skills jobs. As a first step, companies must improve forecasting and planning to better understand which positions and skills they need most.
Build the talent pipeline. Just over half the executives surveyed said their company partners with community colleges (56 percent) or technical schools (55 percent). Companies have a valuable opportunity to work with these institutions to develop curricula that build the required skills and experience.
Develop talent pool relationships. Community-based organizations are another often underutilized partner, with fewer than half of the businesses represented by the survey (45 percent) forging relationships with these groups. The business community must work with a vast network of partners, including education institutions and community organizations, to establish themselves as “employers of choice” with potential middle-skills job seekers.
Reinvigorate talent development. Only 41 percent of the respondents said their companies offer internships or apprenticeships, even though 80 percent agree that these programs are effective in building needed skills. Companies must provide current and prospective employees with access to a variety of internships, apprenticeships, ongoing training programs and upskilling opportunities to create a clear career path for middle-skills employees.