Welcome to the Customer Contact Center

By Barton Goldenberg  |  Posted 2001-11-19 Print this article Print

On a recent client visit, I had the pleasure to spend the morning listening in on some customer service calls. I don't think I will ever forget one particular exchange between a customer and a service agent.

On a recent client visit, I had the pleasure to spend the morning listening in on some customer service calls. I dont think I will ever forget one particular exchange between a customer and a service agent:

Customer: "Hello, I am phoning you today about the e-mail that I sent to you earlier this week concerning the problem I am having using your product. My e-mail resulted from last weeks Web chat session that was prompted from your response to the letter that I sent you via regular mail last month."

Not surprisingly, the service agent was stumped. Although she tried her best to respond to the end users needs, she simply did not have access to all the contact history.

Welcome to the 2000s, where todays telephony-based customer service center is giving way to the CCC (customer contact center), a new customer service model that is capable of accepting incoming customer telephone calls, e-mail, Web chat sessions, customer self-service and more. Enabling this trend are new tools such as computer-telephony integration switches and IP networks capable of integrating and queuing voice and data packets.

Rolling out a CCC, however, requires more than just deploying technology. Here are some questions to help you determine whether you are ready to provide consistent customer service across channels:

Do you understand the customer service methods most preferred by your customers?

Has this vision and strategy been communicated effectively to internal customer-facing personnel as well as to external customers?

Do the current customer-facing processes support consistent customer service across channels, or do your processes need to be adjusted or even reinvented?

Will you be able to encourage customer service agents to think outside their silos and participate in your multichannel support efforts?

Will your current phone network allow for consistent customer service across channels, or should you be implementing emerging IP network technology?

Customers have become wiser. Competition is but one mouse click away. Now more than ever is the time to offer consistent customer service across all channels.

Barton Goldenberg is president and founder of ISM Inc., a CRM consulting company in Bethesda, Md. He can be reached at bgoldenberg@ismguide.com.

Barton Goldenberg Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM Inc., has established his Bethesda, Maryland-based company as premier Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Real-Time Enterprise (RTE) strategic advisors, offering consulting and research services to Global 2000 companies, vendors and financial organizations. He founded ISM in 1985.

Goldenberg's foresight and vision to integrate sales, marketing, customer service, e-business, and business intelligence has been central to today's CRM industry success. He is now pioneering a new business model for the 21st century, which will be in his upcoming book, Creating the Real-Time Enterprise.

Goldenberg is co-chairman and co-founder of the CRM and RTE conferences and expositions sponsored by DCI Inc worldwide.

His bottom-line, results-oriented style has made him popular with chief executives around the world and has helped to make him a sought-after speaker and writer. In the United States, Europe, and Asia, Goldenberg conducts CRM and RTE management briefings and has helped companies worldwide successfully implement CRM. Clients include Abbey National, IBM, Lucent Technologies, AAA Mid-Atlantic, New York Stock Exchange, McGraw-Hill, Roche and Xerox.

Goldenberg is the author of CRM Automation (Prentice Hall, 2002 and 2003), which provides a step-by-step process for successfully implementing a CRM program, and the benchmark Guide to CRM Automation (now in its 12th edition), which features ISM's selection of the Top 30 software packages for the enterprise and the small and medium size business sectors. The Guide and CRM-related software reviews are featured online at www.ismguide.com.

Goldenberg is a columnist for CRM Magazine and serves as a member of the Editorial Board. He contributes to eWeek and Sales and Marketing Management magazine, for which he also serves as an editorial advisor. He is often quoted in the media, including BusinessWeek, CIO, Computerworld, Information Week, and Selling Power.

In 1999, he was recognized by CRM Magazine as one of the 'Ten Most Influential People in Customer Relationship Management' for his leadership in galvanizing the CRM industry and his role in co-founding and co-chairing DCI's CRM conferences. In 2002, CRM Magazine awarded Goldenberg as one of the '20 Most Influential CRM Executives of the Year.'
Goldenberg is one of only three inductees into the newly-created CRM Hall of Fame presented by CRM Magazine at the August 2003 DCI CRM Conference in New York.

Prior to founding ISM, Mr. Goldenberg held senior management positions at the U.S. Department of State and Monsanto Europe S.A. He holds a B.Sc. (Economics) degree with honors from the Wharton School of Business and a M.Sc. (Economics) degree from the London School of Economics.

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