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For the rest of the February 2007 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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It is probably not news that one of the best ways to improve an organization's bottom line is to invest in customer satisfaction. However, merely implementing a CRM solution will not guarantee profitability. To get the most value from customer interactions and ultimately improve the customer experience, organizations must streamline the flow of information from the customer to the company. My company is raising executive awareness around the hidden value of improving the customer experience. How often do you make the trek to your company's contact center to hear direct customer feedback? This exercise doesn't happen often enough, yet it is the most valuable way to learn about the challenges and victories a customer experiences with your own organization. We surveyed a group of our customers to determine their greatest call center challenges. The majority of respondents cited customer service and retention. It is not surprising that these call center professionals are feeling the strain of both providing top-notch service and retaining valuable customers when they have almost no visibility with other departments in the organization. The flow of information is misdirected. Companies are trying to balance service quality, efficiency, and effectiveness with the pressures of revenue generation, cost cutting, and profitability. However, none of these things are possible without implementing a more proactive customer service strategy. Workforce optimization (WFO) is the key to transforming the call center from a capital drain into a revenue driver. WFO brings together the four key call center functions--quality monitoring, workforce management, performance management, and elearning--in a way that creates a synergy of information within an organization. This integration will allow a company to continually improve and get a return on its biggest asset--its workforce. The WFO-enabled contact center functions as a proactive, information-rich department that delivers strategic value to the organization. However, WFO is more than a new technology. It is part of a broader enterprisewide strategy that helps apply a holistic approach to customer service. WFO creates a life cycle of continuous performance improvement. It delivers benefits that radiate from the contact center throughout the entire enterprise. Companies continue to experience challenges to balance maximizing customer satisfaction and increasing the revenue while minimizing the cost of customer service. Through the contact center, remote and back offices, organizations are driving to optimize the performance of their people, processes, and technologies to increase effectiveness and efficiency.
Taking WFO to a new level, I recommend implementing a customer feedback management strategy so you can actively collect direct customer feedback from your contact center. The ability to capture customer intelligence and benefit from direct, first-hand customer feedback offers a unique combination of capabilities that allows management throughout the enterprise to measure key performance indicators with real and unbiased customer satisfaction ratings--further heightening satisfaction, driving loyalty, and maximizing revenue opportunities. One industry that has excelled in creating a dynamic, enterprisewide customer environment is the retail financial services market. Banking customers are demanding a consistent customer experience across all touch points. Today, the industry know-how of this segment has united with such functions as workforce management, quality analysis, performance management, and elearning to provide a balance between maximizing customer satisfaction and increasing revenue, while also controlling costs. According to Forrester Research, bank branches continue to drive satisfaction and sales, and are growing in number. This is because banking is one of the industries with the most comprehensive multichannel requirements and sophisticated multichannel solutions. Leverage the forward-thinking strategy of this market to maximize customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty in your organization. There has never been a better time to improve the way that your company relates to its customers. Take on the challenge of evaluating your call center and customer strategy from a new perspective.
  • Examine the role that call center agents play--they are your company brand.
  • Leverage the gold mine of information discovered in customer interactions.
  • Create a consistent customer experience across all touch points.
  • If you have an opportunity to visit your call center in the near future, ask yourself the following three questions: How can we leverage the information from these interactions to drive revenue for the company? Which departments, such as accounting and marketing, could gain from the information found in the call center? How can we optimize our customer support center to both grow our relationships with customers and add value to the organization? The shift to customer centricity requires that organizations look beyond bottom-line revenue and short-term profitability, and begin empowering employees with the information needed to make decisions that target customer needs. And, by visiting your call center and hearing direct customer feedback, you may gain new perspective that will help reduce costs and increase revenues. It's a win-win situation for everyone. About the Author Nick Discombe is CEO of Witness Systems. Please visit www.witness.com.
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