As with many initiatives, CRM and contact centres can remain lost family. Conceived and raised apart, their adoption into separate families only serves to distance what should be close knit identities.
Even though marketing, sales and customer service operate within a single lifecycle timeline, too few organisations make this obvious through common objectives, metrics and rewards to align team behaviours. Instead, silo minded teams within those functions only see what they are motivated to. As such, they make CRM into less than it needs to be.
This matters for a number of reasons. The lack of oversight resulting from separate game plans means customer data can be duplicated, lack version control, remain hidden and under optimised in terms of providing insight into overall customer behaviour. And of course, this approach consumes far more administrative resource than a combined effort would require.
The arrival of cloud based CRM has proved a watershed moment for getting on with deeper alignment. Even though functional budgets mean CRM is often bought one bit at a time, the ability to evolve into an enterprise wide strategy becomes a business decision as opposed to a technical challenge.
Cloud infrastructure also enables CRM to become a hub for all customer data, workflow and engagement.
Mature deployments typically hold a fuller data set to include transaction and interaction data from front, middle and back office activities. Best of breed CRM also orchestrate the flow of customer data between these systems. The most recent iterations even attempt to transform these platforms into customer experience frameworks by including voice of the customer and journey mapping toolkits.
At this level, CRM enables organisations to function as cloud businesses with all the benefits of scale, reach and elasticity that is core to cloud’s value.
In turn, the contact centre is capable of a similar evolutionary path.
Back in the day, they were correctly labelled call centres. Depending on sector and geography, we now host many channels across multiple devices. To this extent, omni-channel service design has become crucial in terms of understanding when to offer live versus self service, and how to optimise engagement, by matching the strengths of voice, video and text against the tasks and expectations within the customer journeys.
If CRM has scaled to become a platform, so too have contact centres in offering unified queuing, intelligent routing and context sensitive transitions between channels. All of which need to operate as a single ecosystem in order to deliver frictionless choice and flexibility for the customer.
At any stage of the evolutionary paths both CRM and contact centres are on, there is always opportunity to act as one family.
Early stage collaborations might be modest such as CRM acting the role of list broker for outbound dialling campaigns. Advanced versions could be leveraging customer insight to prioritise VIP customers in busy queues before engaging them over their preferred channels with personalised value propositions. All informed and driven from CRM customer data.
If CRM can evolve to become an enterprise resource serving all customer facing teams, so to can the contact centre when transformed into a customer hub.
In this model, the focus is tight teamwork between a hand-picked cross section of customer facing teams. To facilitate alignment and rapid learning, the cross disciplined team works in the same physical environment. They are coached to plan and execute within the discipline of lifecycle management. In other words, remaining aware of each other’s impact on the customer and thereby unifying brand intent and action.
Within the same working environment, this engagement team is supported by analytics and change management teams whose role is to uncover and optimise opportunities while fixing things that damage customer experience. ‘CRM as a platform’ powers this highly evolved model of customer engagement.
All this is undertaken within the ambition of reacting to customer and market activity as close to real time as possible. In other words, customer hubs are taught to follow an agile and highly responsive agenda and as such provide a real world example for others in the organisation to visit, learn from and eventually directly imitate.
Turning contact centres into such a strategic and valuable resource would exponentially increase their value in much the same way that ‘CRM as a platform’ is light years ahead ‘CRM as a list’.
Wherever we end up, one thing is for sure. It begins with getting CRM and contact centre team onto the same page.
If you would like to learn more about how contact centre solutions and contact centre technology like Puzzel can help you, get in touch today.