Customer experience at a cross-roads
One project that I really enjoy running annually is Ovum’s CRM Outsourcing Business Trends Survey, which sounds out 200 enterprise contact center managers in Western Europe, North America and Australia. And, once the fieldwork starts, I relish getting back the data in order to see what has changed over the course of the previous twelve months in relation to all elements of running a contact center. This year’s results were among the most interesting that I have seen in over a decade as an analyst in this sector.
One of the first things to jump out from this year’s results was the fact that for the first time since the of the global financial crisis, the number of enterprise contact center managers indicating that their CRM budgets would increase exceeded those saying that theirs would stay flat or decline. For enterprises this is great news as it means more financial flexibility with which to invest in agent training, new channel technologies and deepening their analytical capabilities. But, for outsourcers that over the past few years have positioned their own front-line and added value capabilities at a lower cost to prospects, this could be problematic.
Another facet of the 2-15 survey data that clearly stood out was that associated with what enterprises identified as their primary commercial priority, which was overwhelmingly to increase customer satisfaction (with decreasing costs and increasing revenues as a distant second and third choice.) That firms across verticals are placing such emphasis on customer experience management cannot be a bad thing in terms of end-user engagement. However, getting this right the first time will be essential for executives running front-line operations, as the tolerance among consumers to provide a second chance after a poor interaction is limited, at best.
So where does a contact center manger go next in terms of customer experience in 2015 and beyond? A good point of departure would be to look at their firm’s own base of consumers and determine what channels they currently use (as well as those that they are likely to adopt over the coming months/years), and that their organization is well positioned to provide strong interactions across these platforms. If not, the need to make the needed adjustments cannot be ignored… and if the resources to do so aren’t there, a suitable partner that can ensure seamless delivery needs to be found at the earliest.