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Insight/ Strategic Planning

CMO Wake-Up Call: Actionable Insights Await In The Contact Center


by Mariann McDonagh

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Article Highlights:

  • The contact center presents a unique opportunity to hear the real voice of the customer.
  • Actual customer conversations are potentially more authentic than research gleaned from controlled studies.
  • Your contact center is on the front line of customer service

Marketers are abuzz over numerous new ways to reach out and engage with customers. Social media is becoming a mainstay, mobile marketing is surging, and voice-of-the-customer (VoC) research programs are in vogue. Marketers are even setting up command centers to track and analyze online customer feedback. We’re learning how to listen, relate, adjust, and respond to customers in ways we never imagined.

Indeed, listening to and interacting with customers has never been more important. But are we CMOs really listening to customers when it may matter most: when customers choose to engage with the contact center? Each time a customer communicates with your contact center, it’s safe to say they expect to be heard. Unfortunately, many marketers simply overlook this critical source of customer feedback.

The contact center presents a unique opportunity to hear the real voice of the customer, gather additional feedback, and provide superior service. It can help CMOs achieve critical strategic objectives, such as increasing brand loyalty, growing share of market and share of wallet, and boosting profitability. CMOs, if you are overlooking your contact center, then you are not doing all that you can to achieve such objectives.

Leverage The Contact Center To Advance Strategic Objectives
Let’s face it: Involvement in the contact center doesn’t sound very sexy. Operations not your game, you say? Maybe not, but I’d assert that the game has changed. Just as marketers are now expected to glean actionable insights from disparate “big data” sets, so, too, should they leverage the contact center to advance strategic objectives.

Following are three key areas that your contact center can support:

1. VoC Research
Marketers are increasingly proactive about capturing and acting on the voice of the customer, formalizing research programs to gather feedback for product and service improvements. Customers are becoming co-creators, and marketers are scrambling to keep up.

The contact center is a fantastic resource for customer feedback and insights. Using cloud technology, it’s easy and convenient to literally subscribe to customer calls. That means you and your team can listen on-demand to various types of calls depending on priorities and initiatives.

Consider the time and money spent on focus groups and surveys. How about listening to actual customer conversations with your contact center? Here’s an affordable resource literally at your fingertips. And it’s potentially more authentic than research gleaned from controlled studies.

Marketing is also allocating more resources to outward-facing social media. These investments can easily be erased without integration and response. If you’re only pushing messages out and not having two-way conversations, then you have a gap.

A cloud contact center can enable conversations by establishing an integrated channel that routes social interactions and combines them with other communications, such as phone, chat, and email. The resultant holistic view helps marketing capture, respond, and act on VoC.                                                                                                   

2. New Product Development
Insights gleaned from integrated customer feedback at the contact center can help marketers develop new products. When customers engage with the contact center, the timing is perfect to gather feedback on product experiences and unmet needs. Marketing can develop scripts to glean feedback on what’s working and what’s not, plus implement post-call surveys.

The contact center is a vital resource. Through it you can hear a customer’s language, understand pain points directly, present potential new product solutions, and even test new offers. This should improve customer-driven product development and thus help grow share of market and share of wallet.

3. Customer Experience And Service Differentiation
Customer experience and service are more important than ever. Due to increasing commoditization, some of the world’s most dominant brands, such as Amazon, are differentiating with service. Amazon sells almost anything; it’s the service—such as product recommendations and same-day delivery—that matters.

Your contact center is on the front line of customer service. Marketing can help develop contact center scripts, inform representatives on just-launched products and promotional campaigns, educate them about different customer personas, and even create cross-selling campaigns. These efforts will help create a superior customer experience and a differentiated brand.

In my previous post, I warned that brand loyalty could become a thing of the past for those who don’t provide personalized service at the contact center. The inContact and Harris Interactive study I wrote about also should serve as a wake-up call for CMOs who are not innovating at the contact center.

CMOs not involved with your contact center are missing out on opportunities that could mean the difference between short-term gains and long-term profitability. Given the contact center’s relevance to marketing's future success, perhaps we should own it.

About Mariann McDonagh

Mariann McDonagh was recently inducted into the DMNews Marketing Hall of Femme. Follow Mariann @incontactCMO.