5 Factors Impacting Customer Contact Strategy

Brian Cantor

Insofar as organizations universally embrace customer satisfaction as their ultimate contact center goal, the objective-oriented approach may seem quite straightforward: determine the combination of people, process and technology that maximizes satisfaction.

In theory, developing a great contact center strategy indeed is that simple.

In practice, the situation can be quite challenging.

Rarely does the journey to customer satisfaction present itself without obstruction.  Strategic leaders will instead be faced with a plethora of challenges.  Certain factors will contribute more heavily to satisfaction than others.  Certain technologies will prove less effective in reality than they did on paper.

Most importantly, paradigm marketplace shifts will create unexpected challenges – and exciting opportunities – that organizations must consider when perfecting their contact center strategies.

Currently, there are several factors that are turning contact center excellence into a moving target.

The digital transformation

“The digital transformation” has become a cliché for a reason: it represents one of the most undeniable shifts in the customer contact landscape.

Digital communication is not simply an interesting option for today’s customers; it is their way of life.  It is how they prefer – and expect – to interact.

As a consequence, contact centers have no choice but to meaningfully engage with customers in web, social and mobile channels.

More importantly, they must ensure their digital environments are fully integrated with “traditional” contact center channels – and all other facets of the business.  Digital cannot represent a communication alternative; it must be a seamless part of the customer experience journey.

The softer-walled contact center

The conventional idea of a “contact center” is becoming obsolete.

That statement, it should be noted, is not a rant about how “contact center” is an antiquated, unfashionable term.  It is a commentary on a radical marketplace transformation.

Organizations are no longer situating their customer contact function within a singular, physical “center.”  At the very least, the customer engagement effort is spanning multiple departments – and multiple sites.

Marketplace trends related to the “gig economy” and “liquid workforce” further establish the “contact center” concept as untenable.  Some of today’s employees seek “on demand” work.  Others anticipate being able to work remotely – whether on the road, while temporarily residing in (and exploring) new places, or from the comfort of their home.

Organizations can ignore this reality at the peril of agent and customer satisfaction.  Or, they can embrace the idea that the “contact center” has become a fluid concept.

Emphasis on customer relationships

Not every organization believes every interaction must be lengthy and intimately personal.

Nearly all, however, recognize that interactions cannot be viewed as disparate and transactional.

They are part of a journey – of an ongoing relationship between the brand and its customers.

That reality should define how organizations engage with their customers.  Personal details should be used to optimize interactions – and predict needs in the future.  Contact center excellence, moreover, should be predicated on creating loyal, lucrative relationships rather than resolving one-off problems.

Protecting customer data

In their ongoing effort to better connect with customers, organizations are facing an emerging challenge: data security.

To personalize experiences, organizations will have to more extensively collect and leverage customer data.  They, moreover, will have to do so in potentially less secure digital environments.  That reality, alone, makes data security a priority focus for customer-centric organizations.

Emerging regulations, such as GDPR, amplify the significance of the situation.

Technology integration

“Disintegration” is the biggest roadblock for today’s contact centers.  CCW Digital research reveals that it is the #1 performance bottleneck, the #1 performance priority, the #1 technology challenge, the #1 source of agent complaints, and the #1 cause of customer frustration.

Organizations must address this challenge on a variety of fronts.  They must ensure all departments are aligned when it comes to the customer experience.  They must create an open flow of communication between all employees, managers and executives.

The most pressing need, however, is connecting disparate systems and contact channels.  Whereas internal alignment and collaboration can largely be achieved with a great mindset, technology integration will require meaningful investments and effective implementation.

New era of brand reputation

As underscored in our recent Special Report on Brand Reputation, the customer experience is now meaningfully connected to brand reputation.  Reputation, in turn, pivotally impacts the organization’s ability to attract customers and grow revenue.

When constructing their customer contact strategies, organizations must position brand reputation as  a top-of-mind objective.