In our previous blog post, we highlighted how trends such as omni-channel have influenced the activities of customer care executives around the globe in 2015.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how customer service organizations were influenced in 2015 by three additional trends.

1. Journey Management

“Journey management” was yet another overused and poorly understood term in 2015. In our benchmark study on journey management, we provided our perspective on what it means and how it impacts CEM executives.

Omni-channel programs focus on ensuring the consistency and personalization of customer conversations across channels. However, these conversations take place at different phases of the customer lifecycle and thus can involve everything from raising brand awareness to active selling to building customer loyalty. Conversations at each phase of the customer journey must be appropriate to the phase while also delivering consistent and personalized messages.

Journey management means coordinating messaging across channels AND across the customer lifecycle. Many businesses spent the better part of 2015 learning about this approach and how it can benefit the organization. Indeed, we’ve seen a considerable number of organizations begin mapping the unique journeys of their different customer segments. The next natural step that should take place in 2016 is using analytics to optimize interactions along that journey and proactively manage them.

2. Workforce Optimization

Ensuring agent productivity and performance has for years now been a key objective of many contact center executives. We decided to include workforce optimization (WFO) as a key trend in 2015 as companies have changed the focus of their WFO programs.

Historically, most contact centers have made operational improvements such as reducing average handle times and better forecasting of agent demand the goal of their WFO efforts. Over the past two years, and especially in 2015, companies have focused more on utilizing analytics tools to predict customer traffic across multiple channels and to become more agile in scheduling agents.

We’ve also seen the primary emphasis of WFO programs change from agent productivity and performance gains to improving the customer experience. Considering the ongoing rise of the empowered customer, we can only expect this trend to continue and as a result see more contact centers build a single view of customer data through tools such as the unified agent desktop. These efforts will naturally be augmented by solutions enabling predictive analytics, desktop analytics, speech analytics, and real-time analytics.

3. Knowledge Management

As noted above, companies have shifted the focus of their WFO programs from driving operational efficiency to improving the customer experience.

However, this doesn’t mean that operational efficiency can be ignored. In fact, improving agent productivity and performance remains the second top objective of WFO programs today.

To this end, it’s critical that contact centers focus on providing agents with easy and timely access to content they need to their jobs – specifically, serve customers. Considering that a contact center agent today needs to use three different screens to find and access the right knowledge base article, there is no question that companies need to work on improving their knowledge management systems. Indeed, we see more customer care executives identifying knowledge management as a key area of focus in both 2015 and 2016. Read our related research to see how leading contact centers build and nurture a top-notch knowledge management strategy.

In the end, 2015 has been a very active year for customer care executives. We’ve seen the conversation around omni-channel evolve from a focus on its benefits to a focus on effective implementation. We’ve also seen companies invest in additional best practices such as journey and workforce management. If you’re curious about what we predict as key trends to influence customer care programs in 2016, stay tuned for our next post!

Image Source (Creative Commons): reynermedia.

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