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Sales and Marketing are Asking For Help

Sales and Marketing are Asking For Help

No department interacts more with customers or knows more about their buying patterns and needs than the contact center. Contact centers are attaining a new level of prominence in most companies, as their rich supply of customer data and deep knowledge of customer needs are finally being recognized and sought out by corporate, sales and marketing departments. Our focus this month is on the initiatives that contact center managers should take to make the most of the new opportunities being presented to them.

Sales and Marketing are Asking For Help

Senior management and executives in sales and marketing are now seeking out the assistance of contact centers to increase revenue and profitability. After more than 30 years of being downsized, shunned, ignored or outsourced, contact center managers are understandably wary about sharing their departments’ resources with other organizations in the corporation. But rather than nurturing old grievances, contact center managers must seize this opportunity and find innovative ways to work together with corporate, sales and marketing executives to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

Contact center managers are great at finding ways to optimize efficiency and quality in their own organizations. Now they need to take some of those same skills and apply them to attaining corporate objectives. There are a number of specific steps that managers can take to build their influence in the corporation and enhance the role and positive perception of the contact center in the corporate hierarchy.

It’s Time to Broaden your Focus

The most fundamental change that contact center managers must make is to broaden their focus beyond departmental goals. Contact center managers should encourage meetings with senior managers in other departments, in order to educate themselves about activities in sales and marketing and the means used to achieve revenue goals. Conversely, because contact center operations directly affect the success of sales and marketing initiatives, managers should also open up avenues of communication so that senior personnel in other departments can participate in contact center decisions. Contact center management should tap into the creativity and business experience that sales and marketing personnel have to offer. Ultimately, everyone will benefit from the increased success of corporate sales campaigns.

Senior Executives Must Facilitate Change

Contact center management needs senior management support to reach a higher level of influence in the company. Managers in contact centers should campaign for changes in corporate policy that will allow them to improve the company’s bottom line. Some suggested changes include having executives invite contact center management to participate in corporate goal-setting and institutionalizing a process for contact centers to share customer data with other departments.

It’s important for contact center managers to have grade-level and salary parity with their peers in sales and marketing. This will help to ensure that contact center managers get the recognition and respect they deserve.

Take Charge

Bringing about all of these changes is certainly a challenge. Budgets are tight and corporate dynamics are slow to change. But the time is right and the opportunity is there. Sales and marketing departments cannot afford to ignore the valuable customer information in contact centers. They are finally beginning to invite the assistance of contact center management to promote corporate revenue goals. Contact center managers must avail themselves of the opportunity to advance their careers and raise the prominence of their centers by actively cooperating with other departments. It’s going to take time but the corporate climate is favorable for contact centers – executives are looking for help and the contact center is positioned to provide this assistance.

Ask the Experts

There is so much discussion today about multi-channel contact centers. Is this a necessity for enterprises? If yes, what technologies are required to build a multi-channel contact center?
Customers want to interact with a company in their channel of choice. At times, this channel may be the phone. At other times, it may be email or chat. Customers expect service or sales representatives to know their history, regardless of the channel in which they interact. So, if they start a conversation by phone and follow-up by email, they expect the email agent to know the whole story, just as they do the phone representative, at a later time.

The majority of enterprises today, support both phone and emails. An increasing percentage of companies also support chat. This is a good beginning. The next step is to allow agents to see transactions from the other channels. (Give phone agents the ability to see email streams and vice versa). This can be accomplished with a customer relationship management (CRM) suite that is able to integrate and store customer transaction history from other applications. Even if all customer transactions are not handled in the CRM suite, most of these applications can take a download from a different servicing system. For example, if you are using Siebel to handle customer service inquiries and KANA to handle eMails, each system is able to send a file to the other system. Integrating data from separate servicing systems gives service and sales representatives a complete view of each customer’s interactions.

DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.