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STAMFORD, Conn., February 21, 2012 View All Press Releases

Gartner Says Organizations That Integrate Communities Into Customer Support Can Realize Cost Reductions of Up to 50 Percent

Analysts Explore the Future CRM at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit 2012, March 14-16 in Orlando, Florida and the Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit 2012, June 11-12 in London

         Radical levels of customer service, which account for an average of 75 percent all customer interactions, threaten to undermine the customer's affinity for brands in 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. It is critical for customer service organizations to figure out how to harmonize customer service processes that sometimes happen with a human support agent, sometimes through self-service and sometimes by peer-to-peer community networks. 

"A greater focus on individualized service, powered by analytical systems that understand the customer's likely intent, is helping the service process," said Michael Maoz, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Thrown into the mix are two trends still in their early stages — peer-to-peer customer support and customer service via mobile devices, such as the iPad. Managing the pace of CRM customer service process change and technology change will require discipline and data across interaction channels."

Gartner's central predictions for the CRM customer service and support market are:

By 2014, organizations integrating communities into customer support will realize cost reductions ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent.

The cost savings are principally through the deflection of calls to the community, where the costs are less than 5 percent of the cost of a technical support agent. During 2012, three industries will realize the biggest successes (up to 50 percent savings on a per-case basis) with communities that solve customer support issues: B2B software, consumer electronics and telecommunications service providers. Laggards (less than 5 percent savings) will not get involved in 2012. These will be health insurance, government and banking. The U.S. and parts of Western Europe will lead the trend, with sharply reduced success over the next four years, as the concepts mature.

By 2014, customer fallout will drive down customer satisfaction in 70 percent of organizations that shift customer support to communities.

Many organizations are employing communities as a platform for customer support. While there are examples of organizations experiencing moderate to great success in call deflection and increased first-contact resolution (FCR) cost savings, there are also unsuccessful community deployments. These unsuccessful deployments happen when the organization thinks that if it creates community self-help sites, customers will come. Similarly, these deployments tend to be plagued by the perception that peer-to-peer communities require no administration or moderation. Enterprises should recognize and plan for the administration and moderation required to maintain a customer support community, but be ready for the community to fail.

By 2015, 50 percent of online customer self-service search activities will be via a virtual assistant for at least 1,500 large enterprises.

More than 1,500 organizations worldwide are in various stages of production with virtual assistants (VAs). The results range from profound cost savings (5 percent reduction in service costs) and increased customer loyalty to simply the entertainment of having a robotic presence on a website. But the number of organizations adding this capability is growing by 20 percent per year, especially in travel, consumer goods, telecommunications and banking. A challenge is that computer-generated characters have limited ability to maintain an interesting dialogue with users; they need a well-structured and extensive knowledge management engine to become efficient, self-service productivity tools. VAs will lead to further downsizing of customer service centers.

By 2015, the marketing budget allocated to retaining customers and increasing loyalty through customer service will more than double.

As organizations attempt to get social, it is ever prevalent that marketing departments spearhead social media-based initiatives on their behalf. In marketing's continued effort to protect and evolve the organization's brand through social media, the department increasingly engages in two-way communication.

Marketing and customer service departments will have to work in cohesion within an organization to successfully deliver on both strategies. Marketing is likely to fund initiatives that are jointly developed, executed, managed and measured by marketing and customer service. This will put marketing in a lead position to drive retention and loyalty strategies through customer service, improving the alignment between the two departments.

Through 2015, the dominant themes in customer service and support will be collaborative customer service processes, application migration to the cloud and support of mobile consumers.

Interaction channels have exploded in the past few years, from direct- and phone-based to the corporate website and across a growing selection of mobile devices and social media. To keep pace, the scope of functionality included in customer service and support (CSS) applications has expanded. Gartner analysts said it is time to build an iPad app competency. Continuing merger and acquisition activity is challenging organizations to adapt to a changing supplier landscape. Organizations have had difficulties managing and planning for an increasingly complex CSS solution portfolio. These organizations should use new delivery models such as cloud computing and mobile for extending and receiving customer service processes and applications.

More information is available in the report "Predicts 2012: CRM Customer Service and Support Staggers into the Posthuman Age," available on Gartner's website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1846919. This document is part of Gartner's overall 2012 Predicts coverage, which is available at www.gartner.com/predicts. The Gartner Predicts Special Report overview includes links to more than 70 Predicts reports, categorized by topic, industry and market.

Mr. Maoz will speak on CRM market trends at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit in Orlando and the Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit in London. The Gartner Customer 360 Summit in Orlando is being held on March 14-16 at the Gaylord Palms. Additional information is available at www.gartner.com/us/crm. Members of the media can register by contacting Christy Pettey at christy.pettey@gartner.com.

For details of the Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit 2012 taking place on June 11-12 in London, please visit http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/emea/crm/index.jsp. Members of the media can register by contacting Laurence Goasduff at laurence.goasduff@gartner.com.

Additional information from the event will be shared on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Gartner_inc and using #GartnerCRM.

 

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