Monday, April 6, 2009

Modernizing CRM Contact Center Will Create Higher Impact and Lower Costs

Although critical to success for most enterprises, the customer service contact center is undervalued by most business leaders, according to Gartner Inc. This lack of priority is reflected in underfunding of the customer service function and often results in an enterprise’s failure to remain competitive.

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. Gartner said that 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.

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 customers’ 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.

Gartner has identified four key areas that contact centers need to focus on to create a higher impact at lower costs:

Personalized Customer Assistance -- In a time of budget freezes, this investment is important because it offers higher revenue and reduced agent churn. Agent attrition is reduced because they have a better feeling of competency and success.

Better Contact Center Application Design -- Younger CSRs expect a more compelling, responsive and intuitive CRM interface to match the experience with the consumer applications that they take for granted. Gartner predicts that consumer applications will extend to the desktop as well as the Web site to the point that smaller less-formal customer service centers will be able to look at Web 2.0 technologies that enable common technologies (such as Facebook) to be used as the agent desktop, with the necessary telephony components and business information integrated through such "gadgets."

Integrating Web Interactions/Functionality Into the Contact Center -- In a few years, customers will 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. At the same time, the organization should be maintaining and transferring the context of each interaction as it evolves.

Speedy, Accurate Service Interactions -- 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.

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