While companies are investing in new technologies to realize the business benefits of modern customer service best practices, 62 percent don’t grasp the full importance and impact customer service can have when it is an organization-wide strategic goal. That's according to a new Oracle study examining the adoption of modern customer service best practices.

Even though 88 percent of respondents say they believe they are making significant progress delivering modern customer service, there are several factors preventing companies from leveraging customer service as a true organizational strategy, according to the study. Among those are limited definitions of customer service; poor knowledge management and customer visibility; and a reliance on traditional channels and metrics.

Commissioned by Oracle and carried out by Forbes Insights, the study, “Modern Customer Service: Are You Outpacing Your Executive Peers?” surveyed 415 customer service executives, from organizations representing 10 different industries.

Not a Priority

Despite the barriers to adopting customer service as an organizational strategy, companies are at least starting to understand the importance of investing in modern customer service technologies and CRM (customer relationship management) systems to deliver the best customer experiences. Among the top areas slated for investment in 2015 are additional online customer service capabilities (55 percent); self-service technology (47 percent); mobile apps (52 percent); social media (43 percent); and knowledge management systems (51 percent).

Other findings in the report include:


  • Most organizations are not fully embracing a modern customer service mindset, with only 38 percent of respondents viewing modern customer service as a companywide priority.


  • Many organizations still define customer service as a post-purchase function, with executives often not viewing customer service as a key agent for increasing sales (60 percent); retaining existing customers (47 percent); or enhancing their brands and marketing messages (85 percent).


  • Many respondents say they have concerns about new customer service channels, including integrating them with existing systems (44 percent); cost (43 percent); implementation (39 percent); and technological limitations such as lack of support (36 percent). When evaluating customer service initiatives, some indicated there was relatively little use of new measurement tools such as net promoter score (22 percent) and customer effort score (37 percent).

Improvement Promised in 2015

While just 35 percent of organizations surveyed now leverage knowledge management systems, 51 percent plan to invest in knowledge management technology in the future, indicating they recognize its importance in delivering consistent answers, seamlessly.

Also, organizations plan to increase investments this year in online customer service (55 percent); self-service technology (47 percent); social media (43 percent); and mobile apps (52 percent).

"Consumers today are engaged and empowered like never before and want to get answers to their questions anytime, anywhere, and on any device," said David Vap, group vice president, Oracle Applications. "The jump from good to excellent customer service is a fairly big one and involves consistent, personalized customer service in every interaction, across every channel. But it can have a huge business impact by helping organizations increase sales, strengthen relationships, and reduce costs."