Key Customer Experience Trends for 2012
Social Media Friend or Foe?

Ann Marie

Posted by Anne Marie Forsyth


The future starts here

In the midst of an economic crisis, CCA is drawing on the strength of its network to create a strategy for the future, writes Anne Marie Forsyth, Chief Executive, CCA

More than seven decades have elapsed since the British Government printed its 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster to calm the nervous population at the outbreak of the Second World War. In the current economic crisis, the words have struck a chord, with homes and offices across the UK sporting coffee cups emblazoned with the slogan.

The words may provide comfort in a discomfiting present but distract from the need to look beyond today at what the future holds and to start planning for it now. As the economic storm battering confidence across the globe looks set to continue into 2012, business leaders who focused primarily in the last year on short-term exigencies can no longer afford to be disengaged from longer-term strategic issues.

While there are unknown elements in the future, many of which will be challenging, there are also exciting opportunities from factors such as: 'the Cloud'; new enabling technologies; new working patterns; and new contact channels.

Our task is to work out how best to harness these opportunities for the simultaneous benefit of customers and our organisations. In order to do this effectively we need to understand our customers' preferences and to up-skill our employees to become 'knowledge workers' who can meet the needs of customers who want increasingly complex issues resolved fast.

In 2012 our work at CCA will capitalise on the wealth of knowledge possessed by our member organisations and expert advisers and on the ground-breaking work already under way through Customer Experience Council, Research Council and Supplier Council.

The key trends we see emerging through 2012 are:


The sourcing debate has become more prominent, evidenced by a rising number of enquiries from members focused on developing good sourcing partnerships. Offshoring remains on the agenda, but in a new light – rather than simply being a case of traffic moving east, we have offshoring operators investing in western businesses. With the pound depressed, and relative costs lower, there are obvious inward investment opportunities in the UK.


From recent consumer research we conducted earlier this year showed more than 70% of consumers still want to use the phone now and in the future (47% in 5 years time). The recipe for a successful blend of self-service and voice will vary, depending on an organisation's propensity to embrace automation and personalisation and how this fits with their brand.


The reality borne out by our research on social media is that most large organisations are still finding their way in terms of: which department manages the activity (see our How to Build an All-Star Social Media Team); whether it has the potential to become an interactive channel for customer contact; and of course how to construct an ROI around resource planning. Increased transparency demanded from consumers will result in social media becoming a more significant voice of the customer.


This inevitably calls for better relationships between contact centre operations, IT, procurement and of course the suppliers of products and services. CCA Supplier Council takes a lead role in formulating guidelines for establishing more productive relationships which will deliver positive results for all parties.


The skills needed to successfully run a multi-channel, multi-site, multi-partner operation is becoming more challenging. As customers increasingly use intuitive technologies such as smart phones, tablets etc businesses will need to reflect this trend in their customer interfaces. Mixed-model operations are hugely important and are becoming increasing recognised by boards globally, particularly where mergers and acquisitions are becoming the norm.


Harvard Business Review reported that companies have collected more information from customers since 2007 than was ever collected prior to that date. This should come as no surprise to many of us in this sector who are well aware of the multitude of ways of collecting customer opinion and information. The objective is to ascertain what information they need to foster better decision-making and to avoid the real rise of rear-view mirror management – a key focus for CCA Customer Experience Council.

It is an exciting as well as a challenging time and the words of Barack Obama seem fitting for CCA at this juncture. "We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it."

Anne Marie Forsyth

Anne Marie Forsyth

CEO — Customer Contact Association

CCA is the leading authority for customer contact operations. With early roots in continual improvement methodology and standards, the organisation has 15 years experience and is now firmly recognised as the trusted reference source for research, analysis and expertise in this area.

Anne Marie is a regular speaker on customer experience, both in the UK and internationally. She is committed to improved professionalism, is passionate about customer service, and is convinced of the need for organisations to leverage their potential to achieve competitive advantage and customer service excellence.

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