The new year has begun, and the cobwebs of the holiday season have finally been shaken off. Already there have been an almost overwhelming number of predictions about what businesses should expect in the New Year. We've saved you sometime by sifting through the chaff to present you with the most interesting and useful predictions from industry analysts about customer community, customer engagement and CRM.
According to Paul Greenberg, CRM author and owner of The 56 Group, fast-growing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software market has largely solidified. The market will continue to grow because they still provide a service that businesses need, but the big name in 2015 will be "consumer engagement". The speed and immediacy of conversations online means that "Customer conversations needed a nearly real time response".
The ecosystem of customer engagement is currently complicated, and there are dozens of companies fighting over the best way to do things. It's a high priority though, according to a Gallup poll referenced by Greenberg "A customer who is fully engaged represents an average 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer."
Forrester's Nate Elliot comments that the pace of change in social media has finally started to slow. There will always be changes, but it's unlikely that 2015 will be "a year of social transfiguration". He suggests that it will be a good year to refocus on key social initiatives.
The big news in 2015, according to Elliot, will be the return of branded communities. He believes that it's time for marketers to stop concentrating on Twitter and Facebook and embrace the strength of branded communities. The listed benefits include:
- They can drive greater brand reach
- They can convert prospects into customers
- They can convert prospects into customers
Esteban Kolsky rails against the use of Twitter and Facebook as primary customer service. His view is that customers use these channels for other reasons, and that there is little demand for customer support on these platforms. He maintains that it is better to have a single channel of effective support rather than "multi-channel cacophonies". Before a company offers social customer service, they should consider whether they can effectively cover the following elements well
- Resolving issues without escalation
- Automating standard inquiries and responses
- Integrating into existing components (like KM) and other systems of record
- Delivering consistent solutions and answers via all channels equally well"
Without answering these questions, adding a new support channel can simply adds a layer of complexity, cost and "a broken customer promise".
CMO.com's Giselle Abramovich shares a study from Altimeter group that posits that mobile platforms are being sorely underused by marketers. The study (performed by senior researcher Jaimy Szymanski and principal analyst Brian Solis) shows that mobile accounts for 60% of most consumer's screen time. Based on this, Abramovich believes that companies need to fundamentally shift the way they operate. Rather than bolting on a mobile version of a desktop site, mobile should be the top priority.
In this article for Forbes.com, Shep Hyken writes that in 2015, customers are going to continue to be drawn to self-service style support solutions that allow them to quickly and easily solve their problems. He also predicts that social media is going to continue to be important to businesses old and new, and expresses surprise that some companies still haven't put together an effective social media presence. The increasingly savvy customer market is going to expect ever higher levels of customer service from businesses, and will be comparing the service they receive "not only to that of your competitor, but also to great customer service they received anywhere – at a restaurant, hotel or any other company, in any industry."
In her list of six top trends, Forester's Kate Legget states that customer support is changing. Online support has taken over from voice support as the most used customer service platform. In 2015, customers will demand "effortless interaction over web and mobile support channels". She also recommends that companies concentrate on "proactive engagement". They can then use the data from this to improve their performance and predict customer behaviour.
That's it for our round-up. What kind of community trends are you expecting to see in 2015? Let us know in the comments.
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