SupportIndustry.com White Paper:
2011 Trends in Web-Driven Service and Support
Not so long ago, service and support vendors and practitioners could discuss their industry and mention the Internet in passing — a novelty that might someday hold promise as a platform for their customer-facing applications. Today, the industry is at a point where it can nearly remove references to the web altogether when talking about the latest shocking service slight, clever customer comeback, hot or cool technology, application platform, or snarky tech community, because it’s almost a given that’s where the action’s taking place.
And a lot of action there is. Trending in web-driven service and support delivery in 2011:
- Chasing Social Butterflies: Through an array of social media, customers are impacting, and even outright controlling, their providers’ messaging and brands. But there’s a vast amount of information out there, and many companies have yet to figure out their corporate strategies for social media, much less their service strategies.
- Mind Your Own Business: Self-services continue to grow, both because customers want to help themselves, and because call deflection, at least initially, can be a great cost savings for vendors. Companies continue to invest in developing self-service content and deploying complementary technologies and processes. They’re leveraging investments in their knowledge management systems, capturing session information across channels for access by both agents and customers, and proactively developing solution content. They’re better at tracking deflection rates and improving escalation to assisted channels. Meanwhile, targeted online communities are also developing relevant self-help content around specific sectors and products.
- Techs Without Boundaries: Remote support tools, particularly clientless tools, continue to make inroads for both employee and customer support. On the corporate side, while some help desks continue to use client-heavy tools within the enterprise, more and more use web-based clientless tools to serve employees working outside the company firewalls in remote offices or at home. Responsible for the biggest segment of this market are technology providers serving their customers.
- Less Channel Distortion: To find the sweet spot between service quality and resources, providers continue to tinker with the channel mix that makes the most sense for their customers. While a small segment of industries still use phone channels solely, most have combined their phone support with at least some online channels, such as email, chat, self-service, remote support, and web-based case posting. Still problematic: Channels that aren’t well-integrated are causing frustration and significant cost-leakage.
- On Contact: Contact management/CRM systems have become far more these days than mere ticket-tracking systems. They’re adept at storing customer history, and tracking session details, service entitlements, orders, warranties, etc. They integrate with various service channels to standardize on the way customer information is delivered to knowledgebases and agents, avoiding siloed data and reducing customer frustration. They provide automated workflow that allows customers to open up their own tickets and get into a queue, or opt for click-to-call or click-to-chat sessions.
- SaaS Dash: Through 2015, according to a new study from Saugatuck Technology, SaaS-delivered applications will continue to dominate IT spending in the cloud, while PaaS (platform-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) will be slower to emerge. SaaS is expected to be the leading cloud delivery model at least through 2014.
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