The technology analysis firm Gartner has made five predictions for the future of customer relationship management. Most importantly, analysts anticipate that customer service departments will be forced to develop a strategy for bringing together support that occurs on three different fronts – self-service, peer-to-peer service and business support. This will be vital for improving and developing CRM, as well as the future of customer service, in relation to advancing technology trends.
"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 of 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 predictions indicate that within the next two to three years companies will begin to focus heavily on community and cloud initiatives. Customer service will begin to focus on the customer community, rather than individuals – cutting CRM costs and improving consumer loyalty. Businesses will also begin to improve self-service options for customers and migrate CRM to hosted services, such as cloud VoIP.
However, one important issue pointed out in Gartner's predictions is that companies that use the community platform for their customer service will have to have a hand in self-help and peer-to-peer assistance sites, or these service styles will ultimately fail. While many community-based support plans are successful, companies that expect those communities to moderate themselves will see poor results.
All of the predictions made return to the idea of collaborative CRM, the last prediction in particular – "through 2015, the dominant themes in customer service and support will be collaborative customer service processes." This shows that organizations will have to embrace expanding technologies in order to allow customers to access support through mediums less-utilized now, such as mobile applications and social media. Consumers want to feel connected to a company rather than feeling like just another number.
By implementing a cloud phone system or managed social media support network, a company can not only stay ahead of these constantly evolving trends, but also improve their customer loyalty and support today, rather than two or three years from now.