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Top 10 Customer Service Trends for 2013

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Top 10 Customer Service Trends for 2013
New technologies, empowered consumers, and a difficult economic climate are creating new opportunities and challenges for organizations.

What’s Inside
1. Rising Customer Expectations 2. Social Media - Early Warning System 3. Vendor Consolidation 4. Speed is King 5. Customer Power Shift 6. Video for Customer Service 7. Mobile Customer Service 8. Video Conferencing ! 688 Richmond St West ! Suite 204 ! Toronto ! Ontario ! Canada ! M6J 1C5 ! 9. Staffing Fonolo is a Challenge 10. Gamification

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Introduction
Customer service has never been as exciting or quickly changing as it is today. New technologies, empowered consumers, and a difficult economic climate are creating new opportunities and challenges for organizations. Businesses recognize its importance. According to Forrester, 90% of customer service decision makers think that good service is critical to their company’s success, and 56% use it to create a competitive advantage. Customers are more connected and knowledgeable than ever before, shifting the balance of power in their favor. Over 50% spread the word about a bad experience, and 16% have done so using social media channels. Clearly, the impact of good or bad customer service is more amplified than ever. The following list of customer service trends will help shape your support strategy in the coming year and beyond.

1. Rising Customer Expectations
Customers are more demanding and likely to switch companies over poor customer service than ever before. The gap between what they expect and what they receive continues to grow, with only 26% agreeing that call centers provide excellent customer service. The challenge for businesses is how to create better customer service experiences to narrow the gap, while under so much pressure to control costs and maximize profits. Leaders such as Apple, Zappos, and Amazon are living proof that not cutting customer service costs can really pay off.

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2. Social Media - Early Warning System
Companies that ignore social media are playing a dangerous game, but thankfully, most are catching on. According to new research conducted by Stanford University, 90% of executives understand the impact social media has on their organization, yet only 32% monitor it [social media] to detect threats to their business. While social media isn’t always the best place to resolve an issue, it is a great proactive channel to identify customer service problems before they spiral out of control. Many customers immediately flock to Twitter to complain about a company regarding bad support experience - we can expect more companies to use Twitter as problem detection/resolution platform.

3. Vendor Consolidation
Customer service companies, especially those with cloud or social media capabilities, will continue to be snapped up by industry leaders seeking to grow their product functionality. The customers of these major players benefit from consolidation by not having to integrate multiple products on their own, and dealing with different vendor contracts. Over the last few years, there have been some juicy deals in the space, expect more in 2013:

Other notable deals include Oracle’s acquisitions of Collective Intellect and Inquira, Pegasystems’ acquisition of Chordiant for $161.5M, and Salesforce’s acquisition of Assistly for $50M.

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4. Speed is King
One in three of us feel we have less free time than our parents did, according to a recent survey conducted by Persuadable Research Corporation. Some of the results from that survey indicate that we feel a time crunch because of higher living costs, longer work hours, family responsibilities, and commuting time. Its no surprise that customers find speed of service more important now, regardless of whether they are on the phone, web, or at the service location: • 66% of people said valuing their time was the most important thing a company can do for good online customer service • 42% of customers find repeating information to be their biggest frustration with call centers, followed by waiting on hold at 17% Companies should make fast and efficient service a priority - it reduces the chances of your customers getting annoyed and abandoning the service process, or worse yet, switching to a competitor.

5. Customer Power Shift
Customers have access to more knowledge about companies than ever before, and knowledge is power. Social media, online customer reviews, message forums, and the power of Internet search are tipping the balance of power away from the corporation and in the favor of the customer, where it belongs. Customers are smarter and resourceful. Slick branding, marketing, and messaging are not enough to sustain customers. They have access to copious amounts of information at their fingertips. Tricia Morris of Parature said it best, “The shift from CRM to VRM (where customers will choose and maintain their relationships with vendors on their own terms) will continue, as consumers and customers determine if, when and where they engage with brands.”

6. Video for Customer Service
Online customer service videos are becoming popular because they empower customers to find answers on their own. The answers to their problems are rich detail, and ultimately lower company support costs. Video is especially useful in areas such as how to troubleshoot a problem, use a program, or doit-yourself projects. If you’ve ever tried to assemble IKEA furniture from their printed manual, you know how time consuming it can be, and how much easier it would be if you had a video instead. The following companies have embraced customer service videos and are reaping the benefits: • IKEA – How To Assembly Videos • Verizon – Frequently Asked Questions Videos • iRobot – Videos Related to Roomba Vacuum Cleaners We expect more companies to introduce video into their support strategies to offer their customers a better service experience.

7. Mobile Customer Service
Mobile will continue its explosive growth in 2013 with a predicted 20% increase in the sales of mobile devices according to IDC. By 2015, they expect more US consumers will access the Internet through mobile than through computers.

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Already, over 30% of customers regularly use a mobile phone to contact customer service. Organizations are adding customer service functionality to their mobile app or mobile web site. A number of vendors have released products to help companies in this pursuit: • Mobile Call-Back by Fonolo • Nina™: Virtual Assistant by Nuance • Mobile Reach by NICE • Interaction Mobilizer by Interactive Intelligence • Mobile Engagement by Genesys • Conversation Bridge by Virtual Hold Over 234 million Americans use mobile today. With 47% of them on a smartphone, expect the number of mobile customer service vendors and their sophistication to significantly grow in 2013.

8. Video Conferencing
Experts predict that video conferencing will become a viable alternative to the traditional customer support phone call. It promises to create a more personalized experience and build deeper customer relationships. According to Jeremy Sokolic at LivePerson, it works best in industries such as financial services and technology, which frequently troubleshoot issues. Sokolic stated, "Video lets people do more than just chat; it helps to collaborate and create meaningful connections." Parature’s Duke Chung agrees that the technology is in its infancy, but sees its promise. He says, “I realize this is still early, but it will be a nice way for organizations to provide customer loyalty.” We foresee certain challenges slowing down its adoption however. Customers and agents are not yet used to seeing each other through video, which results in an adoption curve. Agent training and concerns about their appearance may also limit implementation in the call center.

9. Staffing is a Challenge
Hiring and retaining employees is one of the biggest challenges to a customer service organization, especially within the call center. According to a recent study by Cornell University, turnover averages 33% in US call centers, with the highest rates in outsourced call centers (51%) and retail call centers (47%). The challenge will increase with the incoming millennial generation who do not view the call center as a particularly fun place to work. 89% of them want a fun and social workplace; further solidifying why it’s so important for the call center to evolve. Experimenting with new ideas and systems, such as gamification, is the only way to make customer service attractive for the new workforce.

10. Gamification
Gamification uses gaming elements and design techniques to make an activity more fun and engaging, and it’s catching on. In fact, Gartner predicts that over 70% of Global 2000 companies will have incorporated some form of gamification by 2014. Vendors are experimenting with gamification to make customer service more bearable, and dare we say, enjoyable, for support agents. Whether the hype will become reality remains to be seen, but these first movers are betting on its future: • Arcaris • Freshdesk Arcade

Fonolo ! 688 Richmond St West ! Suite 204 ! Toronto ! Ontario ! Canada ! M6J 1C5 ! 1.855.366.2500

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• Desk.com There will be more vendors and sophistication in the coming year, and we can expect more call centers and customer service organizations will give gamification a try.

Conclusion
The customer service space is evolving at the speed of technology and changing consumer behaviors which presents both challenges and opportunities to companies. To become leaders, organizations need to shift mentality away from cost cutting and more towards creating enjoyable experiences for their customers.

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Fonolo: The Ultimate Call Center Experience
Offer a call-back so your customers never wait on hold again
Respect your customers’ time. Fonolo is the most convenient way to connect customers with your call center, regardless of where the conversation begins. Smart Dialing: Connect callers to the right agent every time. No more zero-outs. Scheduled Call-Backs: Your callers choose a time that works best for them. Smooth out volume spikes at your call center. Multi-Channel: Support your customers on their preferred channel: web, mobile or IVR/ACD.

"With Fonolo, our Field Technicians get an immediate productivity boost, because they no longer have to wait on hold during client visits." - Kent McInall, Director, Service Activation & Assurance

Request a Free Trial today!
Contact: Chris McLean, Director of Sales 416.366.2500 x228 [email protected] Learn more fonolo.com

Allstream is a Canadian leader in IP communications with 2,500 employees, 600,000 customer connections and a nationwide fiber-optic network. Allstream deployed Fonolo’s mobile solution to boost employee productivity in the field. They enabled field technicians to reach the support center with just one click, eliminating hold time during client visits.

About Fonolo Fonolo improves the way call centers interact with customers by replacing hold time with a call-back. Regardless of where the conversation begins – on the web, mobile or by phone – Fonolo’s cloud-based solution quickly and conveniently connects callers to the right agent every time.

Fonolo ! 688 Richmond St West ! Suite 204 ! Toronto ! Ontario ! Canada ! M6J 1C5 ! 1.855.366.2500

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