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CRM Integration in the Age of the Customer: 1+1=3

Most everyone in the Contact Center and CRM space seems to agree: this is the age of the customer. Excellence in Customer Service is a competitive differentiator, and offering better customer service than “the other guy” can make or break your business.

No wonder many companies initiate customer service improvement initiatives. The contact center is often scrutinized as it is one of the main points of customer interaction. The list of possible improvements can be long: offering additional interaction channels, introducing proactive customer engagement, self-service, and so on. And last but not least, companies start looking into personalizing customer interactions, and making them more context-aware.

A far as personalization and context-awareness goes, there often IS room for improvement! Most of us have been there… You call a contact center, and then repeat your name, phone number, customer number (or any other 12-digit identification) to – from what it feels like – every single agent in the center. None of the agents you talk to seems to have any knowledge of who you are or what you want or need, even though you have identified yourself and explained your request at the very beginning of the interaction.

This situation is equally unsatisfactory from the agent’s perspective. They have to ask every customer they talk to the same questions. Apart from the fact that some customers may not like that very much, so that agents have to deal with a disgruntled caller, this also means that agents also have to spend a considerable part of their Handling Time asking for information that should be readily available…

Enter the CRM system! If there is a CRM system in your company, your customer data are there and should be used to improve customer service. Why does it make sense to integrate your Contact Center and your CRM system? Here are the five most important reasons:

  1. Giving your agents access to customer data synchronized with each contact enables them to have more personalized and context-aware interactions with your customers.
  2. Access to customer data shortens Average Handle Time. Agents don’t have to ask each customer for their information, and customers will appreciate that they don’t have to answer the obligatory questions anymore!
  3. Embedding contact center functionality such as soft phone and agent state controls into the CRM interface streamlines contact handling. No more toggling between screens or constantly managing screen real estate. Let agents focus on providing great customer service!
  4. Integrated CRM and Contact Center systems reduce the need for end user training, as only one integrated interface is required to handle incoming contacts.
  5. Optimize contact routing based on data from your CRM. For example, use data available in the contact center platform, such as the customer phone number, to identify the customer using your CRM data, then reserve their call for a preferred agent for more personalized service.

An integration of you contact center and your CRM systems, done right, can be a case where truly the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or – in other words – where 1+1=3!

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