Turning Contact Center Analytics Into Actions

For more than 20 years, technology companies have espoused the benefits of customer relationship management (CRM) software to improve customer relationships. Companies like Salesforce have been instrumental in evangelizing the importance of improving customer relationships while reducing the cost of doing so through cloud-based technology. But CRM solutions alone are not enough to drive increased engagement.

Accordingly, cloud-based contact center solutions have emerged as key strategic components of the technology portfolio of customer-centric organizations. Coupled with the strategic deployment of CRM, contact center solutions provide a critical bridge between customers and an organization's agents, capable of driving levels of customer engagement and intimacy to new heights.

Cloud contact center solutions can fuel personalized experiences by instantly surfacing information, stored in CRM solutions like Salesforce, about customers as they begin interacting with agents. These modern contact center solutions also can dynamically route a customer interaction (voice call, chat session, email inquiry, etc.) to the agent best equipped to address a given issue. Critical to this feature is the ability to route all traffic -- regardless of channel -- according to the same routing rules and as implemented in a single "brain" or universal contact distributor (UCD).

To accomplish this level of personalization, modern contact center solutions must be deeply and seamlessly integrated into an organization's CRM solution along multiple dimensions.

  1. The CRM desktop should be the only agent interface, to enable efficiency while interacting with customers. To avoid confusion, agent presence-awareness must persist between the CRM and contact center solutions. Alternative approaches featuring distinct CRM and contact center desktops and agent presence can drag efficiency down significantly, leading to customer frustration.

  2. The CRM database should be the only repository for customer data, including that related to customers' contact with the organization -- the when, the why, and the what of contact center interactions. Storing data in both the CRM and contact center solutions creates islands of information that make data mining and reporting difficult and costly.
  3. Modern contact center solutions should be capable of handling customer engagement across the customer lifecycle, from marketing to selling to servicing. Too often contact center solutions are built primarily for inbound requests and don't effectively handle outbound (inside sales) scenarios. Some may offer outbound capabilities but cannot feed prospect identity data to marketing tools like Marketo or Salesforce Pardot to tie together identities and campaigns. Going forward, contact center solutions will need to address multiple simultaneous use cases.
  4. Interaction analytics should execute within the CRM solution. Interaction analytics is the analysis of customer interactions (e.g., contacts into the contact center) to gauge levels of customer engagement. Interaction analytics involves not only analysis of the metadata about interactions (when, how many, what channels, problems solved, products sold through the contact center, etc.) but also analysis of what happened across interactions.

    Ten years ago, centralized on-premises data warehouses were popularly believed to be the best way to store and analyze data, but they almost never achieved economic payback. Today, the advancement of cloud technologies has largely obviated the need for on-premises warehouses -- and there are multiple reasons why analytics should occur in the CRM solution. One is the fact that centralizing all enterprise data, which typically involves the movement, transformation, and normalization of data, reduces the veracity or trustworthiness of data as it is manipulated, lowering overall data quality over time.

    Further, customer data already resides in the CRM solution, and because most analyses will involve both customer data and information on the way they interact, having the analytics execute within the CRM databased makes sense. Lastly, today's CRM systems come equipped with robust dashboard and reporting capabilities with which IT staff are already familiar.

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