Most people equate customer relationship management (CRM) with a software platform. In reality, however, CRM is the process of capturing relevant data about the customer relationship and using that data to enhance the customer experience and improve business results. CRM software is simply a tool that facilitates that process.
Problems arise when organizations treat CRM as an island populated by a few people in sales and marketing. In today’s digital age, the customer relationship extends to a host of other applications where vital information is generated. All too often, that data isn’t captured in the CRM.
The contact center is a case in point. Traditional on-premises contact center platforms often suffer from poor or non-existent integration with CRM systems. This is particularly true for the web-based CRM platforms that more and more organizations use today. When CRM and the contact center aren’t integrated, agents must switch back and forth between apps and screens. Agent productivity goes down and relevant data about the call may be lost.
Worse, lack of CRM integration increases call times and customer irritation. Callers are routed to the first available agent instead of an expert who is familiar with the customer’s account and issue. The agent who takes the call must ask the customer basic information that should have been available in the customer’s CRM record. If the agent has to transfer the call to someone more knowledgeable, the customer will likely have to repeat the same information again.
By integrating the contact center and CRM platforms, organizations can minimize these issues and gain a host of benefits:
- Call center agents will have a better experience when they don’t have to toggle back and forth between applications. They also gain click-to-dial functionality and customizable widgets that display relevant customer data.
- You can enhance the customer experience by providing agents with details about all of the customer’s interactions. The customer won’t have to explain the issue.
- Metrics such as call-handling times and first-call resolution should improve. You will also have more data to help you optimize performance.
- Your marketing team will benefit from having more data to tailor personalized campaigns. You may also be able to improve your online support and self-service tools by identifying common problems.
Cloud-based contact center solutions can eliminate integration issues through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs enable rapid integration with a broad range of cloud-based and on-premises applications, making it relatively simple to add new features and scale up or down based on demand.
APIs also make it easy to add support for new communications channels — which is among the key benefits of cloud-based contact centers. Customer interactions that were almost exclusively by telephone until a few years ago have evolved into a complex interplay of communications channels — the so-called omnichannel experience. Cloud APIs enable quick integration of the latest integrated communication tools without capital investments or time-consuming upgrade projects.
In addition to reducing acquisition and management costs, cloud-based contact center solutions provide consolidated reporting across all media types, eliminate the need for multiple databases and create the ability to build geographically dispersed contact centers that satisfy “follow-the-sun” coverage.
IPC offers industry-leading contact center solutions from Mitel and the cloud-native platform from Talkdesk. We also have expertise in integrating these solutions with CRM and other applications. Let us help you maximize the value of your contact center by giving your agents ready access to critical customer data.