Forrester's Practical Solutions To Growing Business and Cutting Costs

There has been much and understandable wailing in the current economic climate about 'yes I need to retain and grow customers but my CFO has axed my budget'.

Now Forrester Research has come up with five practical, leading-but-not-bleeding edge recommendations that will make CFOs, CMOs, and ultimately CEOs happy by shrinking costs and increasing business.

This advice, contained in a new report covered on TMCnet, The Economic Necessity Of Customer Service by Natalie L. Petouhoff, Ph.D., Sharyn Leaver, and Andrew Magarie in summary are:

* Deploy proactive chat. It reduces online shopping revenue loss as well as shrinks the need to call the contact centers, thereby slicing operational costs

* Empower sales agents with co-browse tools to help customers through web interactions, and avoid calls and shopping cart abandonments

* Explore unified communications (UC) and with it presence. UC-enabled agents can pull in experts to help resolve issues, thereby saving the customers and the sales

* Invest in online social networking communities. "It's the network" and that's where customers are going to find out advice and recommendations on products and services

* Make self-service work in all channels. Customers want and deserve a consistent experience whether on the web, through automated e-mail or chat or web forms, or through IVR

This last one has been a groaner. Too many firms have thrown up--the multiple meanings intended--web and IVR self-service almost in panic mode to cut costs, and have in turn given this valuable method a bad rap.

Such carelessness got the dot-coms in trouble 10 years ago and almost sank them and the tech sector when customers got fed up of the lousy service. These companies ran to teleservices outsourcers to provide live agents but their business models did not factor in the costs, which caused many centers to expand and new ones built, hiring new agents, only to drop them a year or so later. We can't afford similar bad moves today.

To avoid these and other error Dr. Petouhoff, who is a passionate as well as a savvy and very bright researcher, has included in the report several key step to get enterprises focused so that they can makethe solutions offered above work right. These are, again in summary:

* Reject the old paradigms that a contact center is a cost center
* Demand ownership of the customer experience
* Listen to your customers to create your customer strategy
* Conduct a customer service gap analysis and implement best practices
* Evaluate software with customer experience as the top goal for a business case

The solutions and answers are there. Now it is up to you to make them happen.

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