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New Servicing/CRM System Benchmark Study Reveals Urgent Need for Change

New Servicing/CRM System Benchmark Study Reveals Urgent Need for Change

New Servicing/CRM System Benchmark Study Reveals Urgent Need for Change

By Donna Fluss

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In 1997, customer relationship management (CRM) vendors burst onto the enterprise software scene and promised to deliver functionally rich servicing applications to satisfy the needs of sales, marketing and customer service organizations. The idea was to do a better and more cost-effective job of servicing customers while providing a 360-degree view of customers. Unfortunately, a large percentage of enterprises that made investments in these solutions did not realize most of the projected benefits. Enterprises bought into the CRM vision because they needed to improve their servicing applications. Thirteen years later, 45.2% of contact centers are still using home-grown legacy, mainframe or client server CRM applications. The state and effectiveness of servicing applications appears to be as bad now as it was 13 years ago. This is reflected in DMG Consulting’s new benchmark study on The Servicing/CRM System Dilemma.

In Q3/Q4 2010, DMG Consulting conducted a benchmark study of 149 enterprise, operations, contact center and IT managers, directors, leaders and decision-makers around the world, 93 of whom completed the study. We found that a growing number of contact centers of all sizes are looking for a low-risk approach to enhance and optimize their contact center servicing/CRM applications. Many of these companies have been sitting on the sidelines for years, waiting for a more attractive solution to enter the market to help them improve or replace their existing servicing/CRM application. Managers want flexible servicing applications that can grow and change with their business, but are fearful of signing up for long-term, complex and expensive system conversions.

Survey respondents were asked to rank their top 2011 call/contact center challenges. Like it or not, enterprise, contact center and IT managers around the world, in contact centers of all sizes, agree that the top contact center challenge for 2011 is improving agent productivity. This makes sense, as contact centers are people-intensive organizations and, in most countries, agent expenses are by far the largest cost category. The second-ranked contact center challenge for 2011 is improving the customer experience. In an earlier benchmark study of contact center challenges conducted during the “Great Recession,” the positioning of the two top contact center challenges was reversed. Improving the customer experience was rated the number-one contact center challenge, and improving productivity was cited as the second-most-important goal for 2010. These two contact center challenges have been top priorities for contact centers for many years, and are expected to continue to predominate for the foreseeable future. Survey responses about annual contact center goals vary and new priorities and challenges are identified, but most of the variation concerns the specifics of how to address the fundamental issues of agent productivity, cost reduction and the customer experience. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Top 2011 Challenges by Contact Center Size

Source: DMG Consulting LLC, January 2011

Servicing/CRM Application Challenges

To gain an appreciation of the challenges companies are facing with their servicing and CRM applications, survey participants were asked to identify the top technical challenges they face when using their current contact center servicing/CRM application. Figure 2 shows that enterprises are struggling with a variety of workflow and efficiency-related issues. The most important technical issue is that agents need to access too many screens to find information; 38.7% of respondents rated this issue as extremely important. The second-most-important technical issue is the lack of a 360-degree view of customers; this was ranked as extremely important by 29% of respondents. These responses tie back to the top two contact center concerns for 2011 – the need to improve agent productivity and the customer experience.

Figure 2: What are the top technical challenges you face when using your existing contact center servicing/CRM applications?

Source: DMG Consulting LLC, January 2011

Role of Desktop Analytics in Contact Centers

A great deal has changed in the contact center and CRM technology landscape in the past ten years, and most companies lag way behind in taking advantage of new functionality. An obvious example is social media. DMG Consulting estimates that more than 93% of existing servicing/CRM applications do not have the ability to access, route, queue and respond to social media interactions. However, this is not the only capability missing from servicing/CRM solutions. Unified communications, desktop analytics, workflow, next call to action, intelligent scripting and routing, advanced CTI, support for payment card industry (PCI) standards and other regulations, desktop integration, and even multi-channel capabilities, are just a few of the “innovations” that have entered contact centers in the last few years but are not yet addressed in most servicing applications. See Figure 3. (For more details, see the full benchmark study at

Figure 3: Which of the following desktop analytics features would enhance your operating environment?

Source: DMG Consulting LLC, January 2011

Final Thoughts

These findings make it clear that it’s well past time for most companies to invest in, replace or supplement their contact center servicing/CRM systems. But this time around, it’s understood that projects should be broken down to short-term deliverables with well-defined goals, and that addressing process and training changes is as important as the capabilities of the system itself. To obtain a free copy of the complete 39-page report, The Servicing/CRM System Dilemma, an International Benchmark Study of Contact Center Servicing/CRM Application Challenges, visit the DMG Consulting website at, or contact Deborah Navarra at or 516-628-1098.

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