Heavy Reading Research

Getting to Know Your Customers

Social media is changing the way businesses handle customers. Whereas two years ago, an angry customer might post a negative review about a company on the Internet -- possibly influencing a few people that landed on a particular site -- today's customers can immediately reach millions of people with angry rants about customer service via social networks such as Twitter.

A quick Google search results in hundreds of examples of people who have had problems with companies that didn't live up to customer service expectations. At least they didn't until thousands of tweets about the situation started flying around the world.

Companies are finally realizing that today's customer service requires a new mentality. It requires that the company not only communicate with the customer in the standard channels -- by telephone, in person, via email or regular mail -- but also through social networking, chat, SMS and across every type of network and device imaginable.

The ability to successfully manage all of those customer service touch points is known as customer experience management (CEM), and it's a market that will see growing investment over the next two years, especially for telco service providers and other enterprises that have recognized they must increase customer loyalty in order to positively impact their bottom line.

This is just one of the conclusions found in this month's Heavy Reading Insider, "Service Providers Use CEM for Competitive Advantage." This report examines the CEM market, providing analysis about the verticals that are most likely to utilize CEM over the next two years, as well as drivers in the market and challenges in the industry. It includes a comparative analysis of CEM solutions available, examines the geographic growth expectations of the market and explores trends that are likely to occur in the industry over the next 18-24 months.

While attempting to understand customer behavior and striving toward a "customer first" mentality aren't new concepts, the reality is that today's consumers have more ways than ever of interacting with companies. This shift to a customer-driven economy has benefits for companies -- for instance, it's easier to identify and communicate with a customer through their mode of choice, giving them the feeling that they are important on an individual level -- but it creates significant challenges for companies, as well. The biggest, of course, is that customers can communicate their displeasure -- and influence other customers -- more easily and quickly than ever.

As the CEM market matures, it will be important for vendors to prove the viability and usefulness of their products. CEM systems must provide relevant personalized recommendations that end users will see as valuable. Over time, this will translate into a better customer experience and business relationship with the implementers of CEM systems, and the trickle-down effect will be a stronger customer service relationship.

— Denise Culver, Research Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider

The 18-page report, Service Providers Use CEM for Competitive Advantage, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Heavy Reading Insider, priced at $1,595. This report is available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/insider.

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