By Donna Fluss
In November and December 2016, DMG conducted a worldwide survey of contact center and enterprise servicing goals for 2017. The results of our annual survey are always interesting, but what makes them useful is that they have proven to be an accurate indicator of company priorities and investments.
Outstanding Service Tops the List: In this year’s study, participants were asked to select their top servicing objectives from thirty-three categories and were invited to write in additional goals. Along with the four write-ins, thirty-seven unique goals were identified in the survey results. The top ten contact center and enterprise servicing goals for 2017, in order of priority, are:
- Deliver an outstanding customer experience (60.8 percent)
- Improve productivity (56.0 percent)
- Improve self-service (50.4 percent)
- Reduce cost of service (48.0 percent)
- Deliver a personalized customer experience (39.2 percent)
- Reduce customer effort (35.2 percent)
- Enhance customer engagement (33.6 percent)
- Improve customer retention, 33.6 percent
- Improve cross-departmental coordination (28.8 percent)
- Enhance reporting/analytics (27.2 percent)
What’s New in 2017? Company servicing goals and priorities have changed in the past year, although the position of the first two goals—delivering an outstanding customer experience and improving productivity—have been the same for the past three years. Increasing and improving the use of self-service capabilities has increased in importance. DMG expects to see investments in intelligent virtual attendants and bots, as well as enhancements in web self-service capabilities.
Reducing the cost of service decreased slightly in importance this year, although it’s still a factor companies are taking into consideration when making investments. This is an indication that companies are going to invest in initiatives that prioritize customer needs even if they do not save money, although many investments that improve the customer experience also reduce operating costs.
Delivering a personalized customer experience showed up on the list of contact center and servicing goals for the first time in 2017. This is an area of major investment for companies and an example of a servicing goal that may not reduce operating costs but will improve the customer journey. Companies are finding their customers expect a personalized service experience in their channel of choice. DMG expects to see significant investments to address this objective during the next few years. Personalization is greatly enabled by analytics, the tenth-ranked goal on the list.
Reducing customer effort, a goal that burst onto the enterprise landscape for the first time in 2015, has been slightly de-prioritized for 2017. Companies are doing their best to make it easy for their customers to transact business, but they find it difficult to measure this goal and therefore are investing in and prioritizing related areas. Enhancing customer engagement is a more measureable goal, and it’s one that increased in importance for 2017. This goal is tightly related to improving customer retention, which maintained the same position as the last couple of years. Companies are using analytics to determine personalized approaches for engaging their customers. These initiatives, which should include making it easier for their customers to take care of business, have a proven correlation to retention.
As companies strive to deliver a consistently outstanding customer journey for each customer, they are starting to appreciate the value and benefits of improving cross-departmental coordination. This goal increased in importance in 2017, and though not sexy, it can pay great dividends. This is especially true for companies that figure out how to break down organizational boundaries and look at the company through the eyes of their customers, who do not care which department they interact with as long as things are done the way they expect.
Last, enhancing reporting and analytics dropped significantly in importance in the 2017 list of goals. This is an indication that vendors are finally listening and responding to the needs of their customers for better reports and analytics, not that companies care less about this essential goal. Customer and employee analytics are a necessity for companies to deliver on many of the top ten goals in 2017.
Final Thoughts: The new goal in the list of service priorities for 2017 is delivering a personalized customer experience. Enterprises are realizing they need to make substantial investments to make it easier for their customers to do business in order to engage and retain them. Analytics is key to helping companies figure out how to deliver a personalized experience. At the same time, analytics can help reduce costs, improve the customer experience, and retain customers, which are also top-ten goals for companies in 2017.
Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. For more than two decades, she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary, author, and speaker, Donna drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the services industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.