Kate Leggett from Forrester published a blog post this week highlighting her Top Trends for Customer Services in 2012. There are the usual predictions for more use of BPM (Business Process Management) for streamlining processes and SaaS and cloud solutions for managing customer care, but social media also features strongly.
She starts by saying: “In 2012, vendors will continue to add the management of social channels to their customer service products. Companies will slowly continue to formalize the business processes and governance structures around managing social inquiries and move this responsibility out of marketing departments and into customer service centers.” This latter point echoes the theme of The Social Customer 2012 (London) next month at which Frank Eliason (Citibank) will add his weight to the argument that Customer Services, rather than Marketing, should take the lead on social.
The wisdom of crowds is also acknowledged with the prediction that: “The focus will also be on making knowledge deployments more agile and more social, so that content grows quickly, in line with customer demand, and with minimal management overhead.” Solutions like Kana and Dimelo are driving such sCRM developments and producing excellent case studies.
One of the biggest issues that got raised at my Social CRM conferences in New York, London and Paris last year, was stressed in the next highlighted trend: “Customers expect service to be cross-touchpoint — that is, being able to start an interaction in one communication channel and complete it in another. Customers are also pushing for greater alignment of service, sales, marketing, and brand so that they can interact with a company in an unfractured manner.” When asked, our attendees actually said they wouldn’t expect cross-channel communications of this kind, but it’s certainly desirable from a data management perspective.
Finally, Forrester predict: “that companies will double down on their efforts to put end-to-end feedback processes in place across all communication channels — both traditional and social“, adding that we should, “expect vendors to provide the next generation of collaborative communication tools, sentiment analytics, and the ability to close the loop with the user.” Evidently speech sentiment analysis existed in call centres way before it became de rigeur in social media, but social media monitoring combined with sentiment analysis, as provided by vendors such as Brandwatch and Sentiment Metrics, definitely offers an exciting opportunity for customer services.
In all four out of fifteen of the customer services trends for 2012 highlighted by Forrester involve social media. It’s a measure of the influence social media is having on business processes. Perhaps, too, it’s an indication that social media is sliding from the grasp of Marketing into the (infinitely more caring) hands of Customer Services.