Forrester’s 2017 customer service trends

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Every year, Forrester publishes their customer service trends report, and 2017 is not an exception. To see what we can expect in this field, we are here reporting on the six most important predictions of Forrester’s analyst Kate Leggett who believes that operations will become smarter and more strategic. Let’s see if this will reflect on the auto industry as well.

Leggett believes that today “customers decide how customer-centric a company is,” so it is every business’ duty to provide a great service experience, whose fundamentals include “ease, effectiveness, and emotion.” She noticed that customer service professionals receive a smaller number of voice calls as their self-service, automated engagement, and digital operations mature.


#1: Companies extend and enhance self-service

As customers grow accustomed to new technologies, such as the web and mobile self-service, they tend to immerse into the communities and move from human call agents to virtual assistants, automated chat dialogs, and even chat bots. In fact, Dimension Data reported that there was a 12% decrease in phone volume in every digital channel, which means that phone calls may soon be a thing of the past. Leggett believes that “[s]ervice will become more ubiquitous, via speech interfaces, devices with embedded knowledge, and wearables for service technicians.”


#2: Companies sustain automated customer conversations

Forrester analyst believes that in 2017 “companies will continue to explore the power of intelligent agents to add conversational interfaces to static self-service content.” Using mobile phone assistants such as Siri, Cortana, and Alexa for initial searches will continue to increase in the future, which will open a new path for development in the area of voice search and natural language processing.


#3: Robotic process automation guidance will standardize service delivery

To reduce the need for human customer service representatives, for quite some time now robots have taken over service delivery tasks. Machine learning techniques have enabled performing the simple task by mimicking agents’ interaction with customers via a user interface. What humans, however, still need to do is performing management tasks. Leggett expects “to see continued focus on RPA for automating repetitive rules-based tasks. Companies will explore the nascent world of cognitive RPA to drive real business value by improving nonroutine tasks requiring judgment.”


#4: Prescriptive advice powers offers, decisions, and connections

Guiding customers and predicting their next actions by making automatic decisions is called ‘decisioning,’ and this process is crucial in customer service organizations according to Leggett. She predicts that they “will continue to extend the power of analytics to prescribe the right set of steps for customers or agents to more effectively service customers.” By learning to better route customers to agents who possess the right answers, organizations can make a step forward and even learn how to predict future customers calls and questions.


#5: Field service becomes the face of your company

Field service represents “the most personal channel for customer engagement” which is why Leggett predicts that in 2017 “see continued focus on using field service technologies outside of traditional industries. These technologies will increasingly leverage analytics to manage scheduling and dispatching, taking into account skills, tasks, work orders, assets, time sheets, and service policies.” Additionally, she believes that augmented reality will also have an impact on spreading knowledge.


#6: IoT insights transform business models

The Internet of Things is expected to improve all spheres of our lives in the future. Businesses revolving around customer service will need to employ it, too. Using support automation can help diagnosing and fixing issues on devices connected via the Internet. And the advantages are numerous: lower costs, better planning, and predicting future customer needs. Leggett believes that “IoT will continue to transform companies from being product-based to service-based. To make the business model of IoT work, companies must keep a close eye on emerging IoT ecosystem components, networking protocols, security, data models, and analytics to connect with contact center solutions and act on the received triggers.” All of these, indeed, open the door to a brighter future.


 

This report was originally published on the Forrester blog in January 2017.

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Pero Krpan is a VP and co-founder of AdvantageTec. Pioneer of online leasing and founder of Quick Max leasing software and co-founder of KnowMe, the phone tracking service. For 21 years he has managed several dealerships for FirstAmerica Automotive, AutoNation, Sonic, Penske and a few smaller dealer groups. As a native of Yugoslavia, with a BS from University of Sarajevo, he has done quite well as an expert in texting, mobile and local software solution products focused on automotive industry.

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