2010’s Hottest Customer Service Technology Trends

by Jim Berkowitz on October 13, 2010

Here are several excerpts from an article by John Ragsdale, VP of Technology Research at the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), 2010’s Hottest Customer Service Technology Trends.  Check out the complete source article for much more on each trend:

Everyone asks me what hot emerging trends I am tracking, and this month I’m going to highlight the top four technology trends I’m researching this year.

Technology spending is hot. After the wretched economy put a kibosh on corporate technology spending in 2008 through 2009, I am seeing huge spending plans for 2010 through 2011…

Make it social. Clearly social media, social service, social CRM, whatever moniker you prefer, is the hottest topic in support today. In fact, 31% of members have budget for social service this year, and adoption is surprisingly high already:  73% of TSIA members now have an online customer discussion forum — up from only 35% in 2006.

Focus shifts from knowledgebase to search. I’ve been on the verge of declaring the traditional knowledgebase (KB) as dead technology — much to the chagrin of many KB vendors. The challenge is not to force everything into one repository, but to have sophisticated enough search technology that can locate the needed content wherever it is stored, and even allow you to interact with the data to find the one right answer — not a list of 3,000 possible hits.

Mobile devices and applications proliferate. Though mobile access to enterprise content has been available for a decade or more, early versions, such as wireless access protocol  interfaces, saw little adoption. Today, with smartphone adoption skyrocketing, and iPad, iPhone and Blackberry users demanding native applications, we are seeing a new breed of mobile devices and applications that can have huge impacts for both employees (increased productivity) and customers (increased self-service success).


Doug Warner October 21, 2010 at 8:48 am

Well, 3 out of 4 is not bad. Unfortunately, I suspect the knowledgebase will be quoted like Mark Twain, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” While popular culture seems to think that search is a great interface for finding information, usability studies don’t bear that out:

Most people only use the search feature after they’ve tried the navigation or the content links. Search is seen as the last resort.
Web Usability Blog, May 2010

When we do visitor behaviour analysis we often see that the search feature is rarely used by more than 5% of a site’s total number of visitors.
Web Usability Blog, May 2010

Recently, we did some extensive task testing with a technical audience. 70 percent started the task by clicking on a link, 30 percent used search.
Gerry McGovern, April 2010

In other words, what you find is that well designed navigation will trump search for 70%-95% of users. Clearly, however, if your knowledgebase is so poorly constructed that it can’t be navigated, then of course search will be necessary! And guess what that poor interaction will do to your customer satisfaction scores.

Brian Jameson October 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I have to agree with Doug on the knowledgebase synopsis. It’s just NOT an effective method to resolve problems, too often the search terms don’t yield what you need. From personal experience, I think it’s much easier to do a Google search to find a community site or a blog, rather than the company’s knowledgebase. Additionally, the rise of social has hammered away the need for knowledgebase – if you have a particular need, reach out to your networks and you can find a solution.

Thanks for the post.

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