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How Multi-Channel Marketing Transforms Contact Centers

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In the Mad Men era (circa 1960), consumer marketing was fairly simple. Spending was primarily on mass media such as broadcast commercials and print ads. If a customer had a question, they’d pick up the phone to call customer service.

Today, brands promote their products and services in a media landscape that’s far more intertwined than yesterday’s “one-to-many” approaches. Consumers learn about their favorite brands in entirely new and more personalized ways such as blogs, websites and social media, to name just a few.

Changes such as these have significantly altered consumer behavior. Customers today have embraced these new methods of communication, and as a result, have more options to engage with brands. While many still reach out by phone, they also may start a web chat, tweet, post a Facebook comment or even send a text message.

This is why “call” center has become something of a misnomer. The term no longer describes the full scope of the customer service team’s responsibilities. In the world of multi-channel marketing, the “call” center has become a contact center. Beyond syntax, below are a few examples of how changing customer expectations have impacted the customer service.

Role Change: From Support to Relationship Expert

People and problem-solving skills have always topped the list of job requirements for customer service representatives. But exceptional customer experience is now a competitive differentiator, which makes these skills vastly more important. What’s more, the multi-channel environment has made exceeding customer expectations far more complex and challenging.

As a result, companies need higher-level talent in their contact centers. Agents must be adept with technology, able to manage conversations in several channels at once, and make quick decisions to resolve issues quickly. They also need to be as comfortable speaking to customers via video chat as they are on a phone call. These are markedly different skills, but they’re essential to delivering a stellar customer experience.

Geographic Change: The Contact Center Comes Back Onshore

With customer experience now a top priority for brands, more businesses are bringing their contact centers back onshore. Contact center contracts with significant onshore delivery rose to 53% in 2015 from 35% in 2010, according to outsourcing consultancy and research firm Everest Group.

With the contact center located at headquarters, executives can more effectively manage the transformation to a multi-channel customer experience. The close proximity also enables them to monitor performance and adjust operations in real time.

Driven by the availability of more flexible cloud contact center solutions, many companies are building teams of remote agents to manage local support and spikes in activity. If business picks up without warning, managers can quickly scale operations by activating remote agents with just a couple of clicks.

Expectation Change: Increased Demand for Personalized Service

It’s ironic, but multi-channel marketing has raised customer expectations for personalized service. To deliver on this promise, agents need complete customer information at their fingertips. This is why more contact centers are integrating CRM applications into their contact center solutions. By building a window to the customer, companies can provide personalized service in any channel.

Insight Change: Qualitative & Quantitative

Multi-channel marketing has created more ways for customers to reach out to businesses. It’s no longer unusual for the same customer to like the company Facebook page, use self-service options on the company’s website, and begin a web chat with the contact center. Yet, integrating and unifying these interactions is crucial for creating a positive customer experience.

Metrics based on these interactions can provide managers with invaluable insight about how to improve customer interactions. Yet, many companies don’t have infrastructure in place to support this. Just 17% map the customer journey, according to an Econsultancy.com Ltd. survey, and 83% are unclear about their customers' path and intentions. By integrating CRM and contact center solutions, brands gain the insights needed to deliver more effective customer service.

Clearly, multi-channel marketing is transforming the contact center and having an impact on customer experience. But it’s still early days, with many businesses only now putting the pieces in place to change how they interact with consumers. And since creating a unified multi-channel experience is the No. 1 priority for IT and business leaders, according to Gartner, we can be sure this transformation is far from over.

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