Technology liberates customers in all kinds of ways, but the results of this liberty aren’t always beneficial to the companies that want to reach them. For example, many people opt out of email communications by unsubscribing themselves, and others sign up with organisations such as the Telephone Preference Service to have themselves removed from cold-call communication lists.
This can make it much harder for organisations to reach their existing and prospective customers – and that’s why the contact centre is growing in importance.
There are other contact methods, of course, and social media is a major one. But social media has problems, too: people use it not just to talk to you, but about you to others. Twitter’s character limit restricts opportunities for dialogue. Also, many social-media interactions are in the public domain, making it very difficult for organisations to engage with customers on subjects that are personal or private, such as medical or financial advice.
The contact centre has none of these problems, because it’s a focal point in your organisation: it’s the place where customers come to you, rather than vice versa. That’s why 69% of UK and US companies now view their contact centres as critical revenue generators. When customers call in with enquiries or issues, a relationship can start to be built with them that leads to longer-term loyalty to the brand – and that can have a significant influence on future purchase decisions.
The contact centre is therefore taking more of a strategic role within an organisation, as it is responsible for an increasing amount of customer contact, moving away from complaint management towards customer engagement and retention.
Contact-centre teams have a significant influence on brand performance – and that influence is growing. Now more than ever, perhaps, we should be thinking of them not as agents, but as brand ambassadors.
Read how Zappos put service at the heart of its organisation.