Last week’s Customer Engagement Day (run by Jon Snow’s Director’s Club) covered many issues which are on-going: integrating channels, engaging employees, measuring customer experience and reducing contact demand.

But, there were signs of the changing shape of the customer communications industry:

– Smartphone for service. While delegates could site examples of great smartphone apps (BA for check-in, T-Mobile location services at festivals and 02 for account management), many organisations seem perplexed by the choices offered by mobile and are focusing on social media. Of course the two are closely related, but lack of insight into how location-based services will be valued by consumers and what services they want ‘on the go’ are hindering the use of smartphones for service.
– Web-chat puts the emotion into online. Online customer service leaves customers to themselves, apart from the odd cross-selling prompt at check-out. But increasingly both proactive and reactive web-chat could be coming to the rescue of consumers stuck in online ‘no man’s land’. While doubters question the costs and the intrusiveness of proactive webchat, ‘getting the customer over the line’ for a sale is clearly worthwhile. Adding a ‘human’ component to the interaction will help some consumers engage in brands and return for more.
– Video-chat. People are using video more often in everyday life. Again, video-chat could put more emotion into online service when consumers reach the end of their ability to fathom the interweb. BT and Avaya’s Youbiquity Finance research showed 12% would use video-chat for online banking.
– Data analysis gap. For all the talk of ‘big data’ and algorithm alchemy, a number of managers commented that predictive analytics were still less effective than just asking customers on the call: ‘is there anything else I can talk to you about today?”. The future may be different, but serendipity remains powerful.