customer journeyLike all of us, sometimes analysts get it right, and sometimes they miss the boat. Remember a few years ago when everyone was predicting a precipitous drop-off of phone calls in contact centers, anticipating customers would transition to email and chat? That didn’t materialize. We all now know that customers use email and chat more and more, but your phones keep ringing. What did change, however, were customer expectations that they could contact you via other digital channels – at any time they choose. Now, you’re scrambling to meet these increasing expectations.

As our email inboxes are likely inundated with predictions for customer service trends in the coming year, how in the world do you figure out what needs your attention and what you can afford to just ignore? Below are some tips – and it all starts with listening:

1. Listen to the Analysts

What? Didn’t we just say their predictions can be off base? Yes. But overall, they’ve been on target much of the time and will continue to be. So, what are the analysts projecting for the coming year?

Aberdeen says while gamification has been kicked around for awhile, interest is ramping up as quantifiable improvements are now being seen both in agent productivity and agent retention.

Michael Maoz of Gartner advocates that consumer requirements for services on mobile devices must be met. And, by the way, Maoz suggests you apprise your CIO of what you need in your contact center, rather than waiting for the CIO to initiate.

Evaluating and then improving the customer journey will continue to gain traction. Sheila McGee-Smith says it is going to become increasingly important to shorten a customer’s journey – for example, instead of a five-step process, make it a two-step process.

And Forrester Research says customer journey mapping is “the cornerstone to operationalizing your organization’s [customer experience] strategy.”

2. Listen to Your Customers

Analysts have expertise in the overall market space, but you know your own customer base better than anyone else does. If analysts are saying gamification is important, but your agents are telling you customers are constantly asking for Widget A, then perhaps something like speech analytics should be a higher priority for your 2015 contact center investments.

Talk with your Chief Customer Officer about how the contact center and analytics can boost customer retention – is it part of their strategy?

3. Listen to Your Intuition

You’re attuned to analysts and industry publications as well as your customers, but don’t ignore your gut instincts in the process. After all, your intuition is likely grounded in years of experience and customer knowledge. In his thought-provoking book “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell says, “Our world requires that decisions be sourced and footnoted… We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that – sometimes – we’re better off that way.”

For example, perhaps video is currently low on your company’s priority list, but your intuition is telling you that a specific customer segment is going to expect video calls this year. Possibly your gut (and your competitors’ advertising) is telling you to expect a dramatic rise in contacts from mobile devices. Pay attention to your gut.

As you construct your own contact center priority list for 2015 and determine what to ignore and what to embrace, listen to the analysts, your customers, and your own experience-based instincts.

You can also read our eBook titled, 5 Critical Requirements to Building a Future-Ready Contact Center. You’ll get some great insights and can see how these requirements map to your current 2015 contact center strategy – get it here!