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October 19, 2015 Previous day Next day

It’s all about the customer experience...’s no secret that contact centers with tight integration between their CRM software and their telephony system can provide a superior customer experience. Callers don’t have to repeat their names or account IDs multiple times and agents can immediately see the customer’s record and greet the customer by name. Screen pop and screen pop on transfer is essential functionality that every contact center should have but often do not. With tight CTI integration agents don’t have to toggle between applications and/or copy and paste customer phone numbers, email addresses or other identifiers between applications. The level of customer service provided over the phone can make the difference between a lost sale and a loyal, repeat buyer. Effective CRM integration is an important differentiator for companies and can greatly enhance a company’s reputation in the marketplace.

That’s nothing new… companies have integrated their contact center into the CRM system for years, but the game is changing with Omni-Channel. In the age of Omni-Channel customers expect to be able to choose the channel most convenient for them and receive the same level of seamless and superior customer service across all channels.  Contact centers must adopt new processes and integration technology to grow their customer base and enhance their company’s image in the marketplace.


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives but the most adaptable.” – Charles Darwin 


Darwin’s statement is as valid today as ever and can be applied to technology evolution and adaption.  Companies often make the mistake of focusing on a single, isolated technology trend instead of focusing on customer needs and the purpose of technology.  The goal should really be a seamless, consistent and efficient end user experience across all channels in order to improve brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.  The challenge is to figure out the optimal technology choice to attain that objective.


Avoid building technology islands

It’s important to avoid building technology islands in which the voice channel is divorced from the media channel since these islands are hard to manage and control. Integrating your CRM’s multichannel capabilities into the contact center routing platform can decrease costs and increase sales revenue.  Giving agents the ability to handle email and text chats during lulls in voice traffic means that agents can be productive during periods in which they would normally be idle, thus decreasing labor costs.

Companies with technology islands have no choice but to assign agents to the phone queue or multichannel queue but not both simultaneously due to the lack of integration between the contact center system’s voice routing brain and the CRM’s chat/email routing brain. Having to use separate GUIs and separate reports for different media types is highly inefficient.  CRM integration, on the other hand, enables the contact center system to function as the single routing engine for all interaction types provided by the CRM system.  This results in both a unified multichannel queue and unified multichannel reporting, key goals that many contact centers desire but have yet to implement.

The customer centric “360 degree view” approach is very effective in attaining a truly integrated contract center. In this model all communication data is attached to the customer object, regardless of the channel. It provides agents with access to both customer data and interaction management (voice, email, chat etc.) in a single GUI. This model features unified, multichannel real time and historical reporting which gives managers insight into how customers prefer to communicate with the contact center and why.


Web Chat: From trend to key source

So let’s focus on web chat, which refers to chat sessions between customers on the web and contact center agents as opposed to Instant Messaging (IM). The chat channel has proven to be a key source of operational efficiency and cost savings rather than just a passing trend.  For example, by allowing agents to handle multiple chat sessions simultaneously, the contact center will require fewer agents to handle the same number of interactions.  Integrating the CRM’s native chat capabilities with the contact center’s telephony system is often considered to be the optimal approach in offering web chat functionality to customers.  Not only does this provide unified queuing and reporting but most CRMs feature advanced functionality such as suggested response templates, automated greetings, spellcheck, simultaneous multi-session chat and more.


Key points to consider:

  • CRM Integration is a key component in improving a company’s reputation and likability.
  • Contact centers must consider customer communication preferences and provide a consistent service experience regardless of channel.  Whether the goal is to deliver excellent customer service, increase sales or reduce costs, an Omni-Channel strategy is critical in delivering interaction consistency. The question is no longer whether or not to provide multiple interaction channels, but how.
  • A 360 degree view enables every agent to have full contact history, purchasing history, service history and personal profile data. This has a dramatic effect on organizational efficiency as well as customer service satisfaction.  A CRM integration to the contact center helps achieve this 360 degree view by augmenting CRM data with customer interaction data provided by the contact routing system. It provides the ability to populate CRM “interaction histories” with data from the contact center system such as ANI, DNIS, date, time, duration, call type, wrap up reason etc. Agents and supervisors can access the CRM to see what happened on every interaction regardless of media type.
  • CRM based data combined with data captured in the IVR helps companies capture the context of an interaction, such as the customer’s issue or prior contact, and route the client to the optimal agent based on this additional data.  Doing a better job of matching customers to agents will reduce handle times and increase resolution rates.

Written by Jens Faulhaber, Senior Sales Manager, Bucher + Suter AG, (2015)