Channel Adoption and Usage Study in Customer Service: Third Year

As I promised earlier this year, I conducted the third run of the channel adoption and usage study (focused on customer service) that my friends at KANA, a Verint Company,  continue to generously sponsor.

Truth be told, it took a little longer than expected to get to the right number of answers, but we did quite well by collecting over 590 responses (and counting) from well-qualified customer service practitioners.

The collection happened between September and October and was done exclusively via an online survey.

I am still analyzing the data (and began the follow up conversations with some of the more than 180 people who offered to help beyond their answers) so there is some time left before I can publish the final report – but I have enough data points to begin to tell you the high level insights and remarkable data points.

There are four trends I want to highlight in this post (with early analysis).  More will come in future installments as I get more detailed information and better analysis underway.

  1. Social Advances. This one continues to baffle me, but – in spite of all studies and research pointing to diminishing or no returns in exchange for investment in social, the investment and adoption of social continue to grow.  That is both Facebook and Twitter.  Not online communities – almost like living in an alternate universe.
  2. Mobile is Making Inroads.  Either the rise of mobile was far more surreptitious that expected, or more than 2/3 of organizations have embraced mobile as a “channel” for customer service.  I suspect that most of the respondents think of mobile web as a separate channel, but more of this will be found during the follow-ups.
  3. Operationalization of Customer Service Continues.  This was something we began to notice 2 years ago: operations was in charge of customer service and customer experience initiatives, taking over from marketing and other departments.  Data shows the trend continuing, but slowing down.
  4. Chat is the Silent Winner.  From the beginning of this study we have seen a study increase in use of Chat in contact centers. This latest release puts Chat adoption at mainstream levels (over 30%, counting all modalities, 27% for straight chat).  Slowly but steadily Chat has become the silent winner in the channel wars.

The four topics above will be discussed in more detail in the next installments of these blogs.  The detailed analysis, including cross-tabs and follow-up interviews, will be released in first quarter of 2015 in the complete report.  In the interim, if there is anything else you would’ like to know – just ask,

Is this aligned with your initiatives and strategies?

Should it be? The answer to this, and some other questions, will be coming in the next few installments in this series.

Stay tuned.

(Of course, if you have a burning question you’d like answered or have a comment – by all means, let me know in the comments below)

Disclaimer: KANA, a Verint Company, is a client and the sole sponsor of this research report.  While they get input into the topics to survey, and provide feedback on the thesis before we start, the final decisions on content, questions, and analysis remain mine.  There is no input from anyone else other than thinkJar and its employees (which, as you know, it’s just me) in making content and editorial decisions on the study, findings, and reports. All data is propriety of thinkJar and not shared or distributed to anyone or anything else.

11 Replies to “Channel Adoption and Usage Study in Customer Service: Third Year”

  1. Online communities have social stigma. For example a developer will avoid asking a question online fearing employers can search and mark down a candidate. Whereas posting a comment on Twitter / Facebook to drive engagement and look smart is low risk by comparison and may reveal the answer sought via another person pilling on. [IMO Ed Chi’s HCI research on G+ and selective sharing points toward these human factors ]


    1. Clive,

      Thanks for participating. Interesting how you say there’s social stigma to online communities for developers – where that is the example that most vendors / analysts / users refer to show how it SHOULD work (based on models used for open source for sharing and participating).

      While there is something to what you are saying, there are two factors I find changing that:

      1. more and more people are finding value in utilizing these communities in spite of those stigmas and backlash (i.e. the value from participating is greater than the pain of not having the answer) and starting to use them (if there is real concern to being “found”, anonymity is always a helpful ally ;-)).
      2. more and more companies are finding the “sponsored” (read, owned and mined for data) model is obsolete and moving away from it (ok, this is more my reckless romanticism than reality right now, but hoping that if I say it out loud often enough the trend will continue and we will find them open and free) – which leads to self-policing and proves the value of asking a question that many may be thinking but are not sure if it should be asked.

      I am going to dig deeper into this trend (communities) starting this year and going forward – including a deeper research study (had done one two years ago, but was not published at the last minute – will update and see if I can put that out also…)

      There is a lot of low-volume activity going on here, want to highlight it to start working towards that improved adoption that will change the world.

      Thanks for reading, and happy new year!


  2. Interesting trends. Interesting & intriguing. Admonitions not withstanding, herd mentality still continues it would seem. Or is it here mentality at all? Could it be that we are missing something here?

    BTW, do you track what type of requests are addressed? Queries, issues, problems, incidents, events?


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