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8
May

The 5/5/2009 issue of Selling Power shared some very interesting findings of a recent study conducted by the Gartner Group.

Gartner recently conducted a worldwide survey of 1,527 CIOs in the fourth quarter of 2008 in which CIOs identified their top business priorities for 2009. The survey showed – shockingly – that attracting and retaining customers had dropped from second to fifth place. “Although still highly placed, customer service is receiving less emphasis than cost cutting,” says Gartner vice president Michael Maoz. “Of course cost cutting is essential in the current economic climate, but knowing how to cut costs without damaging the customer experience is critical, and the role of the contact center is crucial to this.”

Customer service, as delivered through the contact center, currently suffers from an overall lack of commitment to the customer service representative (CSR) in the form of tools, training, and compensation. Companies need to redouble their efforts in this area and extend the customer Web site, add multiple communications channels, and plan carefully to improve agent performance through the introduction of new technologies, according to Maoz.

Gartner predicts that by 2012, managing Web interactions will be a core competency of the contact center, with customers expecting the contact center CSR to know their Web posts in relevant online communities at the time of a telephone interaction. This will mean that by 2014, it will be an accepted practice in 30 percent of contact centers to have two standard monitors on each agent’s desktop. “Contact centers present the best chance to favorably impress customers, and yet organizations continue to drive customers away from interactions with people,” says Maoz. “With better processes and tools to support the system, an organization can demonstrate its competency and its knowledge of the customer’s needs.”

What steps have you taken since the beginning of 2009 to modernize the tools you provide to the people who service your customers?

Gartner recommends the following:

Personalize Your Customer Assistance.
Set up your customer service so that CSRs can connect directly with individual customers, rather than just be pulled from a pool. This reduces agent churn (a big expense) by giving CSRs a better feeling of competency and success.

Redesign Your Contact Center Application.
In order to be productive, CSRs will want and need a more compelling, responsive, and intuitive CRM interface to match the experience with the consumer applications that they take for granted.

Integrate the Web into Interactions.
Customers will soon expect an organization to lead them (as required) from self-service on the Web by detecting that they need help, then guide them into an assisted chat session and/or co-browsing session (if necessary), then transfer them into a telephone conversation.

Don’t Skimp on CSR hardware.
With the rise of multichannel and multimodal interactions, Gartner expects most contact center managers to consider either a second monitor for each desktop or a wide (landscape) monitor for better, faster navigation by the CSR.

And I’ll add my own $.02 here: for the smaller business, even the simplest of CRM systems that allows you to aggregate communications that occur between your staff and customers will empower them with what really should be considered the bare minimum of tools. Outlook by itself doesn’t count. As a service rep, you’ll need to login and see what one rep promised a customer and when. Outlook can’t show that chain of communications with multiple members of your customer service and sales team. It’s time to re-think what will allow you to retain and get more customers. All of the cost-savings in the world won’t matter if your competitor who makes it easier to do business with them invests in these relationship-enhancing technologies and you do not!

DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by IncorTech. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials.
Category : CRM / economy

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