The Dead Pool: E- and Phone Service

Companies and application providers can no longer look at customer service as a series of silos, according to a new report from Forrester Research. Rather, leaders at these companies should know that, for best results, they'll need to implement an across-the-board customer service program that merges email, phone, and Web applications. Forrester interviewed 75 customer-service vendor and user companies for its report, "The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Management Software." The report offers an up-to-the moment snapshot of the customer-service management software industry. "We found that e-service is dead as a category," says Chip Gliedman, vice president at Forrester and author of the report. "Phone service is also dead. They're both separate aspects of total customer service." Forrester evaluated leading customer service management software vendors on around 180 criteria to arrive at its findings. It found Entellium, Microsoft, Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle Siebel CRM On Demand, Salesforce.com, and SAP are leaders for customer record-centric products; eGain, KANA Software, RightNow Technologies, and Talisma are leaders for customer interaction-centric products; and Graham Technology, Onyx, and Pegasystems are leaders for business process-centric products. Companies looking for prime customer service programs will need to include all channels in their arsenal. The question is the way to best mix them. "Depending on your company, you'll weight things differently, but still it's phone, plus Web, plus chat, plus email as a way to deliver services today," Gliedman says. It shows that companies will need to bring in applications that can be integrated and merged to support a multichannel customer service approach. They must undertake a careful review of its specific capabilities and individual strengths of each of its products to determine how to best weight the channels. They'll also need to implement both workflow and knowledge engines to keep customers from being able to "dial for discounts," Gliedman says. We've likely all dialed for a discount: pick up the phone to call a company's customer service department, get an answer you don't like, hang up and immediately phone again hoping a second customer service rep will give you the answer you want to hear. Or maybe you've considered emailing the company to get in touch with a representative with yet another response. If response varies, you can be sure those three people aren't following a consistent practice or getting their information from the same knowledge software. "Companies have to give the same information regardless of channel," Gliedman says. Related articles: Yackety Clack
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