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5 Predictions for Customer Care in 2016, and Beyond

- December 16, 2015 - 3 Comments

Who likes Tomorrowland?

Some people go to the futuristic part of Disney’s theme parks for the rides. The rides are certainly fun, but I go because it makes me think of the future. Perhaps that’s why people post so many predictions blogs every December: We like to dream about possibilities.

tomorrowland blog image

Photo courtesy of Disney Wiki

In my role, I have the privilege of helping our team shape the future of Cisco’s Customer Care solutions. We always start by listening. We talk to customers and partners to hear what they want. We try to understand what is driving and shaping their thoughts. And we think a lot about how we can help businesses better serve their own customers.

Here’s what our team sees for Customer Care in 2016.

5 Predictions:

Self-service and mobile engagement will continue to outpace direct contact. As consumers, most of us understand this shift already. We prefer to help ourselves first using websites, FAQs, forums, and social media. Then we contact a customer-service representative if we still need help. Has your business embraced this model? Are you engaging with your customers–and prospective customers–how and when they want? Are you using products like Cisco SocialMiner to monitor and participate in social communities? Do you make it easy for your customers to shift between online channels and live service?

Direct contact will become more critical as live resources focus on non-automated exceptions. We’ve all been there. We try to help ourselves, but sometimes we still need live assistance. When we speak with an agent or representative, we expect that person to be able to help us right away. And we want that without having to explain everything we’ve already tried. Are you prepared? Do your agents have a desktop “cockpit” like Cisco Finesse that gives them ready access to all the information they need to help your customers–the first time?

Agents will need up-skilling, as exception cases drive higher live support capabilities. Agents are now often the “last hope” for consumers. They must have the skills and training to address all the exceptions and unusual problems consumers can’t solve on their own. Likewise, because well-trained agents are more empowered to solve problems, they tend to have higher job satisfaction. Do your agents have the training they need? Are they able to take advantage of advanced routing logic in your operations to match customers to the right resources?

Cloud deployments will steadily grow, with interest driven by mid-market organizations. Everyone’s talking about the promise of cloud, because it can bring powerful capabilities to companies of all sizes. But a cloud transition should be carefully considered. How does the vendor address security when you’re considering a cloud-based contact center? How well does their solution support and align with existing capabilities that are essential to your operations? What benefits does it add?

Leading-edge companies will start implementing omnichannel in earnest. Today’s consumers interact with businesses over time and multiple channels. They expect you to know who they are and what conversations they’ve already had. Are you ready? When a customer calls a live resource, does the agent have the history of interactions? Cisco’s cloud-based context service allows you to track key information across time and channels. This “omnichannel” view enables your agents to help your customers faster and more accurately.

We’re in an environment where things are constantly evolving, from customer behavior to the technologies we have to address it. As you look toward 2016–and beyond–what changes do you see in the customer care industry? I invite you to post your predictions in the comments section.

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3 Comments

  1. Direct contact is definitely the preferred method versus automated assistance. If more emphasis is going to be placed on customer experience, then, in turn, more emphasis should be placed on having direct contact.

    Spot on! If I didn't know better, I think you interviewed a handful of my mid-market accounts before writing this article.

    You are right on target, Chris. Businesses who have a social customer care strategy, who understand the CX value of a unified desktop, who appreciate experience engineering, who are curious about cloud-based solutions, and who grasp the importance of context across touch points are businesses with vision. As for my predictions, I see digitization, Internet of Things (IoT), social evolution, video adoption, and home automation exploding over the next 12 months.