Contact Centers Should Be Marketing Engines

Before Covid, businesses focused heavily on digital investments to impact the customer experience. With a remote workforce now needing much of the same digital capabilities that customers have been craving, businesses are realizing that embracing a digital-first, mobile-centric strategy delivers both a great customer and employee experience, which go hand in hand. The contact center is becoming the central place to achieve this. 

To pivot to address new demands, businesses are refocusing their digital transformation and CX efforts on using technology less for cost-cutting, and more for delivering an enhanced customer experience through the use of practical AI, automation and engaging self-service options. It’s about delivering a total experience where customers feel the same seamless, connected, omnichannel experience at every touchpoint with the brand. 

Central to this is the contact center, which has long been the stalwart of customer experience — and as so many doors closed during the pandemic, has become the front door of the business. In fact, 52% of consumers reported that the customer service agent was the only company representative with whom they interacted during pandemic times. As the contact center strengthens its place as a hub for customer engagement, businesses are exploring how to deliver the best possible experience for customers and the team members who support them. Marketing executives are looking at how the contact center can better inform their strategies.

With so much now happening in the contact center, it seems it is indeed an often untapped source of marketing gold — if marketers can glean meaningful insights out of it, that is. So, how can marketing executives accomplish that? 

Integrate your data streams

The role of Big Data has been spotlighted for years, yet brands have struggled with extracting meaningful data from multiple data sources, and even more so across departments. It’s essential to have visibility into the entire customer journey; only data can tell you why and how people are engaging with the brand and where gaps and opportunities exist. This data exists in the contact center, but the real value comes when it can be integrated across systems and applications. 

For data to be useful, it has to be integrated and connected so it flows seamlessly, informing not only better customer journeys, experiences, and remote agent performance, but also marketing insights that help steer strategy to truly meet customer needs. Cloud contact center software should easily integrate out of the box with core systems to support this. For example, the contact center can be integrated with marketing software for lead generation, follow up, campaign planning and journey analytics. 

Businesses still using on-premise contact center software will have a much harder time with integrations. Moving to cloud-based systems and applications makes extracting and correlating data far easier, as cloud-based systems are often built in a more “composable” way and are designed with integration in mind, helping facilitate the connections that help inform every aspect of the business with real-time customer intelligence. 

 The contact center is a tremendous source of customer insights including:

  • Why are customers contacting you?
  • How are they connecting with your business?
  • When are they most often engaging?
  • Are they able to resolve their problems over their initial channel of engagement, or do they require additional assistance?

Embrace practical AI and Automation

Many businesses are expanding the role of the contact center, shifting it to a profit center by upskilling agents to perform multiple roles. Since the contact center is often the front door of the business, agents are well positioned to solve issues and handle customer service, support, and sales interactions. These engagements also present a tremendous opportunity to offer customers relevant offers tailored to the customer’s specific circumstances. 

But expanding the agent role means the contact center has to rethink how lower-level issue resolution is handled so that agents are freed up to focus on higher-value work. Contact centers are turning to AI and automation to reduce or eliminate routine, manual work and handle basic issue resolution that does not require human interaction. AI and automation are key in the three stages of customer interaction: 

  • Pre-call: Conversational AI is enlisted to help guide the customer to resources best suited to meet their needs. An intelligent virtual assistant may resolve the customer’s issue without the need for a human agent, or it may collect upfront information, then direct the customer to an agent who is able to pick things up seamlessly without losing context.
  • During call: AI sits in the background transcribing the interaction in real time and providing the agent guidance on how to best address and resolve the customer’s issues.
  • Post-call: The call transcription can be used to automatically summarize the primary steps taken in the call. This information can be used later to definitively determine not only the reason the customer contacted the business, but also to take proactive steps to address their issues and eliminate the need to contact the business at all.

AI and workflow built into modern cloud contact centers delivers the automation agents and customers need. It creates a wealth of data that can inform marketing with the potential to integrate automations so that data flows effortlessly from the contact center to marketing and vice versa. 

As businesses move toward a digital-first, mobile-centric strategy, the technology they deploy to support customers in seamless, connected experiences becomes more connected and capable of aggregating customer data for real-time decision making. 

Ultimately, for marketing to glean the benefits from the contact center, there needs to be collaboration and data sharing. Modern cloud contact centers deliver highly valuable data to deliver the fast, accurate, and loyalty-inspiring customer experiences expected today. Marketing has the opportunity to partner with the contact center to gain a deeper 360 on the customer and to help them make more strategic customer-oriented decisions. 

Genefa Murphy is Chief Marketing Officer at Five9.

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