Ventana Research recently announced its Market Agenda in the expertise area of Customer Experience. For the past several years, many organizations have found it challenging to provide excellent customer experiences in the face of drastic technology changes and the ongoing pandemic. These challenges have highlighted for many decision-makers how strategic CX can be in differentiating from competitors. But it can also be a complex and disjointed effort that requires continuous investment in people, processes and technologies.
CX is a practice that begins with a customer’s engagement and interaction with an organization, ensuring consistency in the customer experience. There are many stakeholders in a CX program outside of service, including marketers, sales teams, ecommerce teams, back-office workers and IT departments. Aligning all of those professionals towards common organizational goals is what enables successful CX planning and technology development.
As we begin 2022, we are encouraging organizations to invest in building internal structures to make it easier to orchestrate solid, beneficial experiences. It is important to view CX broadly, with emphasis on the agent experience and the development of analytic best practices that guide workers across teams. Everyone who is responsible for influencing customer behavior contributes to CX.
We believe that the best CX is derived from a combination of data collection and analysis, open communication across multiple contact channels, and a workforce that is engaged at all levels in guiding customers to their desired outcomes.
Customer experiences can be enriched through deployment of applications that provide a unified view of all interactions, supporting a well-defined and visualized customer journey and enabling more efficient operations. Our CX market agenda is guided by our firm’s expertise in business requirements and our knowledge of technology vendors and products. Through our ongoing market research, we offer insights and best practices to help both the lines of business managers and IT teams across industry verticals reach their maximum potential.
Our Customer Experience expertise area includes six topic areas: Agent Management, Contact Center, Customer Service and Support, Field Service, Customer Experience Management and Voice of the Customer.
In 2022, we are expanding our focus on CX suites that provide both applications and platforms to deliver an automated, continuous and unified set of processes and workflows to help organizations manage customer interactions and experiences across any channel or system. We assert that through 2024, the establishment of CX application suites on a common platform will become the focal point of the drive to optimize customer and organizational engagement.
We are also tracking the emergence of a new set of executives charged with overseeing the many threads of customer experience management. We assert that by 2025, one-half of large enterprises will have assigned a dedicated, accountable executive to oversee customer experience, in the form of a chief customer officer or chief experience officer.
We will conduct new Benchmark Research to identify best practices and publish a Value Index on this topic to assess technology vendors’ potential to help meet organizations’ CX needs.
Agent management includes the processes and applications that enable agents to engage customers and deliver the best possible experience through intelligent and automated interactions. Technology is now available to enable efficient and effective collaboration among agents and managers, with tools that range from coaching and learning to the optimal scheduling and performance of work. These applications increasingly make use of conversational and mobile computing technology to automate and simplify tasks. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are providing agents with qualitatively better interaction support. It’s essential that organizations provide agents the best possible operational environment to improve customer experiences. For many, the demands of the pandemic have changed cost calculations related to agent populations. Ventana Research asserts that by 2024, two-thirds of contact centers will have increased their budgets for training and coaching due to the rigors of managing work-from-home agents and the increasing complexity of agented interactions. We are conducting Benchmark Research on agent management with contact centers to gain insights on how and what organizations are doing to improve and best practices. Our Agent Management Value Index is available to help assess and select vendors and products that are the best fit for the organization.
The contact center is the locus of engagement with customers, regardless of the customer’s channel or device preference. It is essential for the contact center to provide a satisfactory conclusion to interactions and ensure the best possible customer experience. Effective contact centers unify all channels of interaction through common data and consistent guidance. Effectiveness also increasingly requires the use of conversational computing, virtual assistants and digital self-service capabilities. Ventana Research asserts that by 2026, 7 in ten organizations will have moved all or part of their contact center technology into the cloud to attain greater flexibility and scalability. Organizations must embrace cloud computing to provide agile interactions across channels of engagement. We are conducting Benchmark Research on contact centers to gain insights on how and what organizations are doing to improve and best practices. Our Contact Center Value Index is available to help assess and select vendors and products that are the best fit for the organization.
Customer service and support is the traditional starting point for CX. It requires contact centers to open and track cases, issuing trouble tickets and determining the appropriate level of support each customer is entitled to receive. We assert that by 2024, 7 in ten customer interactions will combine automated conversational self-service and live agents, reducing costs and time, and enabling agents to focus on high-value interactions. In 2022, we will explore how new technologies like AI are infusing a mature segment with new capabilities, particularly when it comes to advising agents on the best possible solutions to customer problems.
When a customer service call leads to an onsite visit from a technician, delivery of good experiences becomes more complicated and expensive. Transmitting information from one party to another - from a retailer to an installer to a technician - can be error-prone, especially when the hand off is from one company to another. Field service tools manage the process of dispatching and tracking technicians, ensuring that, when they arrive at the customer’s site, they have the appropriate data and equipment necessary to complete the service call. Field service has attracted considerable attention from vendors in recent years, as many try to integrate this aspect of the service process into communications and analytic infrastructures. There are also significant differences in the nature of service delivery: We assert that through 2025, technology for field service management will become differentiated based on the needs of specific industries, and of business-to-business and business-to-consumer use cases. We will be looking at the trends and IoT best practices surrounding field service during 2022.
One recent trend in CX has been the gradual switch from point solutions addressing narrow aspects of the process to a broader, suite approach that knits together multiple, siloed applications affecting different departments. Voice and digital interactions have spawned their own slightly different market segments, with the ultimate goal to produce a single family of applications within an organization that can slice data into different views depending on the role of the user. CEM tools sometimes originate from contact center vendors, with a focus on interaction handling, and sometimes from the marketing side, where they focus on audience creation, personalization and behavioral analytics. We assert that by 2025, one-half of organizations will have developed initiatives to map and manage customer journeys by integrating sales, service and marketing processes. In 2022, we expect to perform Benchmark Research and Value Index comparisons of software suites in this category.
Voice of the customer programs are sets of processes and technology that use customer feedback and sentiment along with analytics and AI to develop a unified view of the customer. VoC processes and applications provide organizations with insight into customer experiences so they can focus improvement efforts. Organizations should prioritize investments that will yield continuous insights on customer sentiment. We are conducting ongoing Benchmark Research on customer analytics, and our findings identify a number of challenges and opportunities that organizations face. It is clear that an effective VoC program requires a solid foundation of data and analytics. We assert that by 2025, one-half of organizations will rely more on analysis of passively collected data than direct survey feedback for insight into the voice of the customer.
Every organization, no matter the revenue or number of employees, has an opportunity to significantly improve the customer experience. In 2022, we plan to conduct Dynamic Insights research into VoC to provide organizations with clues to how to improve performance and compare themselves to peers.
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