Not all customer service vendor solutions are a good fit for your organization, and choosing the right one depends on the number of agents you have, your growth projections, your business model, the type of industry you are in, and whether you are looking for a standalone customer service solution or one that is part of a broader CRM solution.
Here are the facets you should think about when making a shortlist of vendor solutions to pursue:
- How many agents do you have? There are customer service solutions aimed at the SMB and smaller midsize organization that have consumer-grade user experiences and are simpler to use than others aimed for enterprise deployments. If you have a small organization, don’t get swayed with all the bells and whistles that enterprise customer service solutions offer. These products are stuffed full of features that you won’t use, which can also overwhelm agents.
- How quickly do you project to grow? If your customer service organization will double or triple in size in the next several years, don’t lock yourself into a solution that cannot grow with you.
- What is your business model? Some customer service solutions support high-velocity, one-and-done interactions over a wide range of channels, which include modern digital channels like messaging. These solutions are suitable for many B2C industries with simple interaction types. Other solutions support longer-running interactions that include many touches between the customer and the company (think, for example, of claims management). These solutions support better process modeling and next-best agent actions. They, however, do not always support the range of modern digital communication channels, as these interactions skew to the more established channels.
- Do you have field workers? Customer service for some companies is contained to self-service and agent-assisted interactions. For other companies, it bleeds into needing to dispatch a field worker to troubleshoot a hardware issue, for example. Some customer service solutions have extensions into field service, while others do not.
- Are you looking for a standalone solution or an all-in-one CRM? This one is important. Some customer service solutions are built on the same underlying platform as sales and marketing applications and offer an easy way to get a 360-degree view of the customer. They also offer unified business and admin tooling. Many times, these are more attractive to smaller companies that may not have the IT resources to integrate discrete applications together.
- What is your industry? Some vendors support industry-specific process flows out of the box that eliminate the need to create these from scratch, speeding up time to value.
- Do you need support services? How much configuration, customization, and integration do you need? Will you do it yourself or rely on a vendor or a partner? Some vendor solutions are digitally purchased and require minimal customization. Others are much more heavyweight. Assess the vendor’s services, partner, and customer support functions to see if they are in line with your needs. Choose the vendor that will make you successful with the right choice of technology and support services.
Forrester has recently published “The Forrester Wave™: Customer Service Solutions, Q2 2019.” Keep these criteria in mind as you evaluate the output of this analysis.