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It is clear that customer service is no longer in the silo of the customer support department, housed principally in a contact center. Instead, customer service needs to be implemented across various touch points within a company, including the company’s web platform and on their social media channels. IT departments are adapting to cloud-based and mobile-based platforms to make all these touch points sync together. 

Communication and Collaboration in Support

With all these updates, it appears the paradigm for customer support is integration. Every department in a company needs to speak to one another, especially as it relates to the customer experience. Companies that were successful with implementing customer service across every touch point received notable accolades, while companies that insisted on staying in silos suffered.

Last year, customer management weather was very “cloudy”; 70% of businesses were said to be using or interested in using SaaS cloud solutions for CRM and horizontal business processes. Migrating to the cloud is complex, however, and even though it’s a great solution, many companies in 2013 realized that it wasn’t necessarily the right tool for their businesses.

Utilizing the Cloud

The cloud offers many advantages for customer support systems, including lower cost (typically, depending on the size of the company), improved agility, the ability to scale up or down rapidly, and the flexibility to use the cloud for remote workforces. However, not all businesses are well-suited to cloud-based CRM solutions, and for some, the cost advantages don’t translate if the organization is at a certain capacity or already has deep investments in IT infrastructure and systems.

For example, companies that require more control over their databases may prefer on-premise systems if they already have the internal resources to support information through private databases. Additionally, companies that require high levels of security through service level agreements (such as health care or banking providers) may need to house all data internally, versus cloud-based CRM systems. And for some companies, they simply prefer to have direct control over the details of their business decisions and specifics of a program; with a cloud-based CRM system, a company is still at the mercy of updates by the hosting company.

Making the Most out of New Technology

We are sitting on some very exciting, disruptive, powerful, and game-changing technology. The technology―cloud-based CRM systems, big data, mobile apps, voice-recognition software (to name a few)―isn’t new, but companies are still figuring out how to break down traditional company silos, integrate marketing and customer service teams, and get the C-suite on board with the vast structural changes that a company must undergo to serve customers effectively. Big companies have the power to treat customers with the same personalization that much smaller companies can offer, which gives larger companies a huge advantage.

When companies decide to use the powers of big data, personalization software, and proactive customer service tools, they need to do it in a manner that is respectful, transparent, and above all, helpful. Additionally, companies will need to further integrate their systems and training protocols to ensure that multi-channel customer service is carried out efficiently and uniformly across the channels.

What we’ve seen from last year, and what we’re already experiencing this year, is a theme of “customers being in control.” Customers are ready to embrace the technology, and they will give up their personal data and be willing to contact and work with companies through non-traditional routes, but companies must be willing to adapt. Structurally, with investments and with technology, customer service will be made or broken based on how willing a company is to respond to the shifting trends. 

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Jodi Beuder

About Author Jodi Beuder

Jodi is a Marketing and Customer Experience fanatic. Some might say "guru", but she prefers it the other way around, as there’s always something to learn and grow as it relates to Marketing and the Customer Experience, and how each is connected to one another. In the past three years, Jodi has dedicated her career to thought leadership in both realms through her work at MHI Global, and has earned honors as Top 100 Customer Success Influencer from Mindtouch, Top 15 Most Influential Customer Service Experts To Follow on Twitter from GetApp, and Top 50 Contact Center Thought Leader on Twitter from ICMI. MHI Global is a TSIA Program Alliance Partner.