How CRM and contact centers need to collaborate for the customer experience
In the not-so-distant past, contact center agents – over the phone – were the primary custodians of customer support. As it was a single channel, providing a consistent customer experience was relatively straightforward, if not always easy.
But in recent times two related and converging trends have made life much more complicated.
First, the channels through which customers contact support agents have proliferated – with email, social media, web chat, video chat, and so on adding complexity to how support staff interact with customers.
The second is the rise and rise of CRM. As sources of customer information – and therefore accessible data – have expanded, companies have looked for ways to put it to use, across sales, marketing, and other teams.
The problem is, that while both contact centers and teams that use CRM tools are focused on the customer, they do not always work in alignment. And this is happening against a mushrooming number of channels, tools, (unconnected) data sources, and overall complexity in terms of customer engagement.
But in a business environment where customer experience is the new marketing and customer experiences are the new brand, it is imperative that CRM and contact centers align their knowledge, tooling, and goals in a frictionless manner, to deliver the best possible outcome for the customer.
Reaching this situation is a combination of two challenges – organizational and technological. Here we will go into some detail on both.
The organizational challenge
As there can be (and often are) competing agendas, priorities, and stakeholders at different levels of the organization, collaboration needs to work at both strategic and tactical levels. In fact, focusing on only high level strategic goals or on only sharing customer information among support staff is a recipe for disaster, as misalignment is inevitable in other areas.
Ultimately, your CRM strategy should engineer customer outcomes that support the overall business strategy, and your contact center strategy should crystallize how that experience is delivered. Practically speaking, this may involve creating a cross-functional CRM and contact centre team charged with assessing and improving alignment, with each team collaborating on how their strategy (and execution) contributes to retention, lifetime value, or other KPIs.
But the partnership cannot stop there. On a tactical level, things get complex very quickly due to the number of channels and platforms being put to use. For example, is an agent interacting with a customer through a co-browsing solution trained to access and use your CRM system to understand the context of a customer’s question or concern? Can your chatbot automatically escalate to live assistance? Are your support staff able to respond to questions on a new product launch?
This is as much about training and collaboration as it is about the technology solutions in use. In fact, according to one article on CustomerThink:
“Implementing a truly seamless experience covers numerous micro instances of conversational continuity that need to be constantly aligned across CRM, contact centers and the technology stack powering the experiences.”
Which brings me to the technological challenge….
The technological challenge
New technologies – many of which focus on solving a particular pain point around providing exceptional customer experiences – are proliferating. And quite simply, in order to provide the kind of service customers expect, contact centers now need to be powered by technology.
In fact, in a previous post we made a case that contact centers need to think like a tech companies such as Uber, and leverage APIs to build their own modular technology stack suited to their own specific needs. These can be assembled, swapped in and out, and even disassembled as necessary, a bit like Lego.
This may mean something like integrating social media support or co-browsing with your CRM, ensuring that support agents do not need to log in and out of multiple platforms and having a measurable improvement on the customer experience. These kinds of stacks are now being used by leading global businesses to improve the customer experience.
For example, by integrating social media support channels into its CRM, KLM’s social media team is able to manage new passenger bookings via social media, generating an estimated $25 million in annual revenue. And by integrating co-browsing support with Surfly, (which you can try out for free in seconds here) financial group UBA has improved customer acquisition, cross-sell and retention, while improving customer satisfaction.
From a customer’s perspective, a laser focus on the customer experience, supported by the right technology choices, should simply translate into a consistent, delightful experience across every touchpoint. Or as Steve Jobs said “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards toward the technology, not the other way around.”
Has this article given you food for thought? Co-browsing can help enhance customer experience. Provide a better experience for your customer with co-browsing. Get started for Free.