Here are several customer support trends worthy of noting. These trends have already and are likely to continue to impact both internal and external support capabilities, which in turn impact a company’s ability to achieve long-term differentiation for their products and services.
A second important reason is the cost reduction pressures described above. Organizations are desirous and are even encouraging customers to perform their own self-service to receive answers to repetitive-type questions, thereby leaving support centers to concentrate on exceptions and more relevant customer experience issues as well as maximize support center efficiencies.
Both of these reasons imply the need for increasingly sophisticated e-support tools to provide customer advice and problem resolution (e.g., integrated phone/email/Web tools, knowledge management systems, remote support capabilities that resolve issues over a LAN or WAN or via phone lines or a modem). In fact Gartner predicts that by 2007, 70% of all support centers will have implemented Web-based support applications.
Perhaps more importantly, these two reasons imply the need for well thought-out, proactive programs that encourage and facilitate internal and external customers to increasingly perform self-service.
Demand For Real-Time Customer Service : Thanks to the Web, customers now expect real-time information and even real-time support. Some customers have even begun to demand it! Yet few organizations today are cost-effectively using customer support capabilities, and even fewer are offering such capabilities in real time. This implies a potential need to create real-time enterprises that offer an integrated customer support framework that provides real-time and complete views of the customer support issues across all customer-facing channels.
Growth In Integrated CRM Applications : All of the above point to a final important trend, namely the need for tighter integration across sales, marketing and customer support applications. This results from cross and up-selling becoming increasingly a part of a company’s support capabilities, on-line marketing and sales becoming increasingly intertwined, and sales and customer support needing to work together in real-time.
Building Support Capabilities: A recent study sponsored by staffing firm Kelly Services and Purdue University’s Center for Customer-Driven Quality concluded: