The Gartner Hype Cycles are just being released for 2014. 7.ai has been listed in the this year’s Hype Cycle for CRM Customer Service and Engagement as a “Sample Vendor” in the Mobile Customer Service Applications and Virtual Customer Assistants categories1
The Mobile Customer Service Applications technology refers to providing customers with mobile applications that reside or are accessible from smartphones or tablets, and are completely supported by the enterprise. The Virtual Customer Assistants technology simulates a conversation to deliver information and, if advanced, can also take action on behalf of the customer.
This Gartner Hype Cycle for CRM Customer Service and Engagement we feel is essentially a playbook for enterprises that strive to craft compelling customer engagement for competitive advantage. The Hype Cycle is targeted towards businesses that are creating customer engagement strategies and need to know about the technologies that enable these strategies. Enterprises’ largest software investment in CRM (more than 35% of the $20.5 billion software spending) is focused on customer care, customer service, technical support, and customer experience management. The CRM technologies that are deemed to have the greatest impact in 2014-2015 are ones that: improve the customer service experience; deploy mobile apps for customer service, and; enable multichannel self-service.
The Hype Cycle states that today’s enterprises are “focused on engineering consistent, differentiated, cross-channel customer experiences, while supporting the need for increased use of customer self-service”. We believe this means that companies are looking to provide an “integrated experience” where each channel knows what the customer has done in prior interactions in any channel. The experience needs to be designed for a mobile device as increasingly customers are using their smartphone to interact with the web, chat, phone (IVR and live agent). And the experience needs to be based on “self-service” enabling the customer to control and complete their interactions on their own.
In our opinion what Gartner is hearing from enterprises is consistent to the challenges that our clients express to us. Today’s consumers demand an experience that knows what they want, knows what they have done in prior interactions in different channels, and completes their tasks quickly, effortlessly, and preferably, in self-service. But most enterprises are unprepared. They have silo’d channels of web, mobile, chat, social, IVR, and live agent. The channels are not integrated so the left hand does not know what the right hand has done. Consumers cannot understand why their Google Now app can know so much about them but their credit card company of 10+ years does not. It’s inexplicable to the consumer.
What Gartner’s Hype Cycle for CRM Customer Service and Engagement tells us is that there is hope for enterprises. Technologies exist that enable differentiated customer experience strategies. But enterprises must move fast to invest and implement. The digital native enterprises, (e.g. Amazon, Google, Uber) are fleet-footed and already ahead. There is no time to waste.
1Gartner Hype Cycle for CRM Customer Service and Engagement, July 25, 2014
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