We’re all bombarded with opinions and predictions from so-called experts. But who do you trust? I believe it’s important to have a strong track record if you want people to take you seriously. Last year, I made five predictions about the Customer Care industry for 2016. You can read about them fully in my prior post, but here’s a quick report card:

prediction report card.jpg

I believe these predictions will continue trending through 2017. But there’s more on the horizon. So, my team and I put together our predictions for Customer Care in 2017.

Companies will get serious about delivering a Connected Digital Experience. I introduced this game-changing concept in September. As increasingly more companies adopt our Release 11.5 contact center solutions, their Connected Digital Experience is becoming a reality. With it, they can now deliver contextual, continuous, and capability-rich customer journeys. Have you taken the time to view your business from your customers’ perspective? I encourage you to try. Then consider how a Connected Digital Experience will delight your customers and differentiate you from competitors.

Chief Digital Officers will be more involved in customer-care decisions. Digital transformation has become a driving principal for companies of all sizes, and many businesses now have a Chief Digital Officer. Any holistic digital strategy must include customer care. CDOs recognize that customer care can be an organization’s strongest differentiator, which is a basis for my prediction about connected digital experiences.

There will be a strong uptake in secure cloud applications for customer care. Direct contact between customers and agents continues to be more and more critical. When a customer calls, does your agent have everything needed to help? Including a history of previous interactions and insight from analytics? Cross-channel and multi-application integrations are best done in the cloud but must be secure. One security breach is too many. And cloud applications have to be usable as well as secure. Applications that have to punch holes through firewalls can be too cumbersome. There are better ways. The security key management in Cisco’s Context Service lets you securely track your interactions with customers, across time and channels.

Customer care will extend further beyond the contact center. You don’t have to confine customer service to traditional contact centers. It doesn’t even have to involve agents. Business collaboration suites like Cisco Spark enable informal, automated team care with bots like Cisco Spark Care Assistant. If you’re using Spark, I encourage you to give it a try – especially because it’s free to Spark Message users.

Uncertainty will drive businesses to reassess strategic contact center suppliers. We’re all aware of the recent history of churn among key players in the contact center industry. And that churn is continuing. The typical pattern is that risk-averse companies diversify their platform choices early. Then, if one vendor begins to look risky, they quickly reconsolidate on a trusted vendor in a controlled manner. We might call these companies “early adopters” of risk mitigation.

Other companies wait longer before migrating from at-risk platforms or vendors. Although this can make business sense, it can also greatly increase the difficulty and costs of the eventual migration. We saw this with Nortel in 2009, Aspect in 2016, and now with Avaya.

The kind of questions to ask during these times are:

  • Will support for existing hardware continue?
  • Will maintenance costs rise?
  • What about innovation? Is there a roadmap?
  • How can an unstable vendor transform how businesses care for their own customers?

Whether you consider yourself an early or late adopter, be sure to ask yourself these questions if one of your strategic vendors is looking risky!

Our industry is constantly changing, from customer behavior to the technologies we have to address it to the vendors that offer solutions.

As you look toward 2017 and beyond, what changes do you see? Let me know. Post your own predictions in the comments section.

Cisco Spark


Chris Botting

No Longer with Cisco