Thursday, November 29, 2012

Survey Reveals Shift in Customer Service Preferences

Angel, a provider of cloud-based Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, released the findings from a survey of over 650 attendees at the 2012 Dreamforce event in San Francisco. The survey results show an evolution of customer service preferences, with more customers expecting businesses to better anticipate customer needs and provide more personalized and on-demand customer service across any channel and device.

The results demonstrated a significant shift to web and mobile technologies as the preferred ways to connect with customer service. From these results, there is an opportunity for companies to better anticipate the change of customer preferences and begin providing multichannel customer support to quickly resolve problems, improve the customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.

-- Shift in platforms – While 51 percent of the respondents named landline telephone customer support as the most preferred customer service channel five years ago, 34 percent called out email as their top resource today, followed by landline telephone (19 percent) and mobile devices (16 percent).
--  Mobile customer support quickly gaining – In the next five years, 24 percent expect mobile devices to be the leading customer service channel while 41 percent confirmed they have downloaded a mobile application to better connect to customer service.
--  Online self-service tools are critical – Currently, 63 percent turn to the company website as their first channel of choice to resolve an issue before calling customer service.
-- Customer service is an ongoing experience – 26 percent said they are likely to tell their friends about their experience, 21 percent said they would ask for the same representative next time and 14 percent said they would share their experience online.

Additional survey findings revealed what companies customers spend the most time with as well as how customers would like to interact with customer service:
-- Banking and retail organizations spend the most time with their customers – these are the leading industries for which customers said they spend the most time on a customer service issue, with 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
-- Convenience is important – 47 percent said they usually connect with customer service from work and 33 percent reach out while at home.
-- On-demand support expectations are significant – 18 percent said instant messaging is their first channel of choice to resolve an issue, while five percent said they turn to social networks to resolve customer service problems.
More information on customer service and support can be found at

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mid-market Executives View U.S. as Less Accommodating to Entrepreneurialism

High levels of economic uncertainty are affecting business and shifting opinions among mid-market executives, according to findings in Deloitte’s "Mid-marketperspectives: America’s economic engine- why entrepreneurs matter." Specifically, only 59 percent of executives surveyed ranked the United States as the most accommodating country for entrepreneurs - a 32 percent drop from how those same executives said they felt in past years.  

Moreover, while 35 percent of mid-market executives claim their own organization has grown more entrepreneurial, 15 percent state their company is less entrepreneurial, despite the clear benefits in terms of greater productivity and profit margins. Among respondents who did not choose the U.S. as the most attractive environment for entrepreneurs, 42 percent selected China, followed by India (26 percent), Brazil (21 percent) and Australia (18 percent) as most accommodating.

Entrepreneurial Behavior

In defining “entrepreneurial”, 81 percent of respondents say any company, large or small, can behave in entrepreneurial ways. Mid-market executives say that being creative, unique, different, innovative and taking risks with the acceptance of failure are most important for keeping their companies successful.

Among mid-market executives who indicated their companies had become more entrepreneurial, they cited innovation to create entirely new businesses, enhancing products and services, and discovering and penetrating new markets as primary behaviors driving their organizations.

Mid-market executives citing a decline in entrepreneurialism attributed it to C-suite leaders’ desire to be risk-averse (36 percent) while 17 percent expressed their desire to avoid volatility by sticking to tried and true business practices.

Entrepreneurialism as a Catalyst for Growth

Overall, the survey shows entrepreneurial companies are succeeding at a faster pace in the marketplace.

Compared to all survey respondents, those who identified their companies as more entrepreneurial are more likely to have:  

-- Increased capital investment (38 percent).

-- Experienced greater worker productivity (59 percent) and generated higher profit margins (49 percent).

-- Nearly one-third (30 percent) of mid-market executives were more likely to cite ongoing investment in technology and people as a driver of success.

More information on customer service and support can be found at

Monday, November 19, 2012

Worldwide Enterprise IT Spending is Forecast to Grow 2.5 Percent in 2013

Worldwide enterprise IT spending is forecast to total $2.679 trillion in 2013, a 2.5 percent increase of projected 2012 spending of $2.603 trillion, according to Gartner, Inc. Banking, communications, media and services (CMS) and manufacturing are expected to offer the largest volume of growth opportunities through 2016. 

The manufacturing and natural resources sector will lead the vertical markets with total spending expected to reach $478 billion in 2013, up 2.3 percent from $467 billion in 2012. Manufacturers typically plan and manage a significant portion of their IT costs in expectation of changes in their sales. In addition, manufacturers worldwide have been steadily reducing their IT purchases as a percentage of their sales since the recession of 2008. The manufacturing industry's IT buying center has adopted tighter IT cost controls amid a myriad of mixed market signals. However, IT spending rates are expected will bottom out in 2013 and will be resilient over the long run, as business confidence is restored and the value proposition of a nexus of new technology forces — social, mobile, big data and cloud — is increasingly championed by senior leaders. 

The banking and securities sector will have strong growth in 2013 and is expected to reach $460 billion in 2013, up 3.5 percent from $445 billion in 2012. Banking and securities is an IT-intensive industry, spending approximately three times as much on IT as a percentage of revenue than the average of all industries. This trend is expected to continue due to a significant amount of IT required to run activities such as lending, payments, trading and risk management. 

The CMS sector is forecast to grow 3 percent in 2013 to $426 billion, up from $414 billion in 2012. Firms in the CMS sectors will typically spend approximately 5 percent of their revenue on IT on average over a five-year period, well above the median for all industries.  

In the short term, transportation and insurance will also be high-growth sectors with both reaching more than 4 percent growth in 2013. IT spending in the transportation sector is expected to total $126 billion in 2013, up from $121 billion in 2012. IT spending in insurance will reach $187 billion in 2013, up from $179 billion in 2012.

In 2012, government IT spending is forecast to decline 2 percent and the decline is expected to continue through 2013. In 2013, government IT spending is forecast to total $445 billion, down from $447 billion in 2012. 

Large industry market operating under fiscal pressure, such as government, can also provide market opportunities as IT departments must strive to modernize and increase service levels without increasing resources. The need for greater efficiency and productivity gains in industries operating under severe fiscal constraints can also create opportunities for disruptive IT innovation and for the displacement of incumbent IT market leaders. 

More information on IT spending can be found at

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shopping At Work? Most Firms Say OK

Just in time for Cyber Monday, a new survey suggests companies are a little more lenient today when it comes to letting employees shop online during business hours. Only one-third (33 percent) of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed by staffing firm Robert Half Technology said their companies block access to online shopping sites – down from 60 percent last year. Another 55 percent said they allow access but monitor activity for excessive use. One in 10 (10 percent) reported that their firms allow unrestricted access.

 The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.
CIOs were asked, "What is your company's policy regarding employees shopping online while at work?" Their responses:

Block access to online shopping sites     
2011 -60%           
2012 - 33%

Allow access but monitor for excessive use        
2011 - 23%          
2012 - 55%

Allow unrestricted access            
2011 - 13% 2012 - 10%
Other/don't know          
2011 - 4%            
2011 - 2%

More information on customer service and support can be found at

Thursday, November 8, 2012

CIOs Project Modest IT Budget Growth In 2013

New 2013 IT budget benchmarks from CEB , a member-based advisory company, indicate that CIOs expect total IT budgets to increase 1.8 percent, roughly 50 percent less than they did in 2012.  Despite economic woes, European organizations are expecting a 2 percent increase in IT budgets.  The primary driver of total budget growth comes from increases in operational expenditures of 2.5 percent.  Capital expenditure budget growth has stalled. 

Two-thirds of CIOs expect to see increases in operating expenditures in 2013, while one-fifth plan to reduce them.  CIOs expect to allocate funding increases to projects that improve employee productivity through better insights, collaboration and mobility, and to increase IT's delivery flexibility and efficiency. 

CEB's survey is based on more than 180 companies representing $52 billion in IT spending. Findings indicate that CIOs will double down on investments in mobile applications and information management to drive employee productivity in 2013.    

-- Spending on mobile applications will grow 50 percent in 2013.  CIOs will concentrate both on developing new mobile applications and making sure existing applications are ready for the mobile environment.  This does not include funds spent to supply employees with mobile devices or marketing funds spend on mobility. 

-- CIOs will continue shifting spending from process automation (30 percent) to information management (32 percent) projects.  Information management projects are considered those that deal with business intelligence, collaboration or customer interface. 

Additionally, CIOs are expected to increase spending to make IT delivery more flexible and efficient:

-- Spending on the cloud will increase to roughly 7 percent of total IT budgets.  Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will receive the largest share of spending, followed by Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

-- Seventy-five percent of organizations that offer some form of end-to-end IT services plan to devote as much as 30 percent of their IT operating expenditure to this delivery model. 
More information on IT budgets can be found at

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dimension Data Announces Results of 2012 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report

Dimension Data, the global ICT solutions and services provider, announced the results of its 2012 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report, which includes data collected from 637 contact centers in 72 countries across the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Middle East and Africa. This year's report found that rapid adoption of emerging communication channels – much of which is enabled by new mobile and smartphone devices, wireless connectivity and social media – is making a significant impact.

As a result, organizations are now rushing to provide additional service channels as consumers demand varied types of collaboration when they engage with organizations. The telephone is no longer a consumer's primary point of contact with an organization, while at the same time, mobile and social media interactions are increasingly making the contact center's role more important than ever.
One in five (19.2 percent) contact centers are already managing smartphone applications, while 33.1 percent of businesses are supporting social media – nearly double the 18.6 percent reported in 2011. A further 14.4 percent expect to have a capability in place within the next 12 months, by which time 46.3 percent will be using Web chat to positively drive Internet traffic to a successful outcome. What's more, organizations are implementing these new contact center options mainly as a result of customer demand.

Other key findings in this year's report include:
Few businesses are gauging the customer experience of non-agent, self-help channels:

-- Self-service channels have become more prevalent in today's contact centers; however, organizations are not measuring the cost-to-serve of these channels and are not gauging their customers' experience of non-agent, self-help channels. This contradicts emerging practices that link customer satisfaction scores directly to profitability, such as the tracking of share price performance against the 'voice of the customer' – a growing trend among forward-thinking organizations.
-- The subsequent absence of cost measurement activity on every channel outside of the telephone is staggering. Only 27.9 percent of Internet, 19.4 percent of Web chat, 9.9 percent of social media, and 6.1 percent of smartphone application contacts are being measured.  Only 14.6 percent of participants have any plans to impose measurements. This indicates significant neglect by organizations as they struggle to adequately enable investment into new channels through proven business case validations.

-- Interactive voice response (IVR) self-service systems rank second only to Web usage as the most offered self-help path. However, 50.6 percent of contact centers don't schedule any regular reviews of their IVR systems and nearly three quarters (72.4 percent) are needlessly frustrating their customers by not passing information collected in the IVR through to agents.
Aging technology is a big challenge:

-- Many contact centers are wrestling with aging technology, which is expensive to maintain and upgrade. Due to the complexity of existing technology environments, integration, lack of flexibility and upgrades are the most common challenges being experienced.
-- In addition, there is a progressive move away from applying a dedicated contact center technology strategy to incorporate it into the wider enterprise customer management strategy (now at 66.8 percent). Investment for upgrades and enhancements are harder to authorize and are driving the need to consider alternative sourcing models for specific functionality that include cloud-based solutions on a pay-as-you-use operating expenditure model.

Cloud continues to play an important role:
-- Many organizations are beginning to recognize the benefits of cloud-based solutions. It has doubled in its importance from Dimension Data's 2011 Contact Center Benchmarking results. As organizations will need to find a way to use, re-use and upgrade existing technologies, the inevitable migration will likely be using a hybrid approach, with an appropriate ownership model selected for each application. 

Contact center needs are being lost in overall technology strategy:
-- Already, 30.4 percent of contact centers report they have no, or limited, involvement in the design of business requirements for new technology solutions.  Of these, 7.2 percent state that it's purely a contact center decision. For sourcing, it is 40.2 percent as the enterprise technology strategy takes hold. These results clearly highlight an industry transition point in terms of accountability and responsibility for contact center business requirements and the sourcing of technology.

-- Therefore, there's a real danger that the specific needs of contact center get lost. Just 59 percent of participants believe their current core infrastructure components (includes CRM, CTI, routing, self-service and workforce optimization) meets their current needs, while for future needs, this figure drops considerably to a mere 13.8 percent.
More information and metrics on benchmarking contact centers can be found at