The following is excerpted from a whitepaper from Cincinnati-based Allegiant Group, a loyalty management consultancy specializing in customers, employees and sales channels. To read the whitepaper in its entirety, visit http://www.allegiant-group.com
Customer contact management (CCM) is the method and approach that a company uses to manage all of its customers interactions, both incoming and outgoing, across all business functions such as sales, marketing, service, billing and others. CCM is a component of a company’s broader customer relationship management and customer loyalty strategy.
Within the context of customer loyalty management and strategy, how important is the customer service element of contact management?
Extremely important, according to Christine Wright, Allegiant’s expert in contact management and customer experience. There are many customer touch points, across all sales, marketing and service channels, that need to be considered relative to a company’s entire customer contact management environment. Furthermore, the contact management strategy needs to be closely aligned with a company’s overall approach to building customer loyalty. You need consistency across all sales, marketing, and service channels throughout the entire lifecycle of the customer relationship experience. A CCM strategy needs to include all channels in the loyalty planning process such as live-agent, IVR, speech, and Web.
Why is there so much emphasis on all of these channels when typical in-bound phone centers can account for a disproportionate amount of customer contact? All customer contact channels relevant to a company’s business strategy must be considered when managing customer loyalty, Wright says.
For example, many Web-based marketers don’t have dedicated phone centers. As companies look to reduce their cost of acquiring and servicing their customers, more customer transactions are being migrated to self-service channels, such as the Web and IVR. In fact, in a recent U.S. survey conducted by a leading contact center outsourcer, more than 88% of consumers indicated their in-bound call was pre-empted by a speech-activated or touch-tone IVR application.
While most customers still prefer to speak to a live agent, many are willing to perform certain types of inquiries through a self-service channel–for example, balance inquiries or transfers, change of account profile information, point redemptions, and so on. Still, it is important that the quality of the customer experience from one channel to the next remains the same, particularly if the customer is using multiple channels to complete the transaction. For example, if a customer calls into an IVR and is asked to speak or dial in a lengthy account number, along with several other pieces of information, and then is asked to repeat all of this information once they are routed to a live agent, this has a negative impact on the customer experience.
Similarly, customers that have taken the time to register at a Website expect that information will be available to a technical support representative if they need to escalate an issue to a live agent phone or chat session. Regardless of where a customer contact begins or ends, effective loyalty management requires that all contact channels need to be seamlessly integrated.