The contact center has evolved into the present state where it is the key interface between brands and customers, but for most of this time it has always been considered to be a cost to the business. The truth is that the interface with your customers is an enormous opportunity; with the right approach and tools you can leverage these customer interactions to create fantastic sales opportunities.
Think about these three stages in the evolution of the contact center:
- Early Contact Centers: these interactions were mostly post-purchase and either voice calls or emails. Customers had to use fixed channels (free phone number for example) and times and the interactions were generally scripted or tightly controlled.
- Cross and Upselling: brands realised that they could use the interaction with customers to recommend new products or upgrades; often the purchase would be fixing a problem the customer is asking about. The customer has their problem fixed and the agent makes a sale. This was when the contact center started contributing back to the business rather than just being a cost of doing business.
- Personalization and managing relationships: the customer today uses many channels and expects to maintain an ongoing relationship and dialog with the brands they like. Brands need to use their knowledge of customer behavior and preferences to create a highly personalized experience.
It’s clear that the relationship most customers have with brands today is very different to the early concept of a contact center being focused on questions or complaints after a purchase. The modern contact center is the link between a brand and the customer and spans the entire customer journey from the moment a customer becomes aware of your product to managing an ongoing relationship with a long-time fan of the brand.
To ensure that the interactions can be converted into revenue, there are some important steps that the brand needs to consider:
- Make it easy. Let the customer contact you when they want, on the channel they want, and answer them in the same way. Don’t force them into channel choices and just accept that customers are all different and you need to answer them using the tools they use to contact you.
- Make it personal. You have data on what the customer has purchase in the past. You know where they live, what they like to buy, when they buy, and probably even what they don’t like and might like based on browsing. Use this information to improve your interaction with the customer. These insights allow you to offer special deals and recommendations that are likely to highly relevant to the individual customer.
- Make it predictive. Don’t just use the data you have, analyze the interaction in real-time to see if Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems can help you to predict what the customer will do next. For example, this can be a great revenue-saver in subscription services because it allows the brand to make an offer to a customer that may be about to cancel.
The modern contact center is focused on managing the lifetime relationship with your customer from the moment they hear about your products to a time when they are a loyal and regular customer. If you deploy tools that can support agents with information about what the customer likes and dislikes then there are enormous opportunities to create revenue that go far beyond the traditional contact center upselling strategies of the past.
Let me know what you think about the evolution of the contact center. Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.