Integration Of Data Into Your Contact Center CRM
Oh, how I love this word. It’s far too vague and takes on many different layers, so let’s ensure we understand the totality of what “integration” actually means in the context of the CRM Contact Center.
For the CRM, the concept of integration is most often to the data within itself. Having integrations with a telephony system becomes part of the discussion as well because a CRM by its very nature is not a PBX. Sure, having a connector is technically seen as “integration” but that’s not enough.
Most Contact Center operations have a need to integrate with many different applications and processes, and those integrations are often used for creating dynamic and real-time interaction treatment. There will always be a need to dynamically impact a customer interaction to ensure the customer is moved to the best resource for efficiency and expediency, oftentimes as a result of data the system encountered along its pathway.
With the options available today, integrations include external systems or database repositories, webhooks to other cloud-based applications and processes, SMS integration, email integration, webchat integration, etc. But blending these integrations into a single and unified process is critical.
Know Your Options And Your Parameters Before Integrating Your Contact Center Data
These parameters include: changing priority, applying skills, changing skills, ensuring First-In-First-Out, or jumping queue position. What seems to be missing for me is ensuring contacts are managed and handled in the order in which they arrive at the Contact Center solution, and a key aspect of this is even distribution of workload across a team of users who are dedicated to ensuring your special brand of expertise and customer satisfaction are met.
This is a key hallmark of the ACD and integration. This is one of the ways in which integration plays a tremendous part of directly personalizing and impacting the customer experience in the Contact Center. Integration options must be native to the solution, and they must be broad in scope if the solution is to really offer a toolset allowing clients to define what’s important to their business and their customer.
So, dig in deep when it comes to integration. Understand where the gaps are and most importantly, understand how its brand of “integration” either enhances or detracts from the short-term and long-term goals for your operations.
And…be prepared for the all-too-often used catchphrase: it’s on our roadmap.
Frankly, most operations don’t have time to wait, nor should they wait for options that exist in most true Contact Center solutions in the marketplace today, especially those capable of blending both CRM solutions and the Contact Center into a dynamic and efficient functional process.
Make Sure Your IVR Is Truly Interactive In the Contact Center
Without a doubt, IVR is the force behind any data-driven routing process. IVR is an absolutely, necessary process no Contact Center operation should ever overlook.
IVR provides integration, real-time data queries, dynamic responsiveness to that data, prioritizing interactions, leveraging integrations from multiple sources, providing outbound processes, and now adding bot technology which further expands the options available to the Contact Center operation, and by its very nature: customer experience enhancement features.
CRM Contact Centers do a great job of managing tasks and interactions via a workflow process, but often lack the open nimble nature of a traditional Contact Center IVR process and ACD.
IVR is the center point for all inbound routing and outbound automation. Most CRM options for outbound will leverage another telephony system or SMS system to accomplish its goals. However, I am quite clear on this one point: In the context of the Contact Center, the outbound process is a complete and separate beast that should not be taken lightly.
I have worked with many solutions, sales folks, and operations teams at the crossroads of where the outbound activities and the Contact Center meet. It is never a direct and straightforward discussion. At the core of outbound campaigns are critical aspects of list management that go far beyond responding to a flat list structure.
Nowadays, there is a need for dynamic verification of data, the ability to create a cadence strategy based on previous efforts and results, none of which should be relegated to contact these people on the list from top to bottom.
In addition to the IVR process today, there is a need to further expand options with the use of Bots. Understand how easily Bots can be leveraged within the context of outbound campaigns as it relates to Customer Engagement. That in itself is a completely separate layer of thought that should be part of the broader Customer Engagement game, let alone using an outbound campaign to collect a debt or to generate a lead.
IVR should not be taken for granted, and to me, represents a huge misstep in the context of the CRM Contact Center play.
Outbound Campaigns & The ACD In The Contact Center
Lastly, Outbound Campaigns should be a fundamental part of the Customer Engagement Strategy. Whether Dialing, sending SMS or sending emails, Outbound Campaigns are absolutely a requirement of the Contact Center operation of today.
Now, in fairness, most CRM Contact Center solutions offer an ability to generate a contact list and may also provide a “campaign” process, whether via WorkList, WorkPlan, or TaskList, etc. It is important to understand the level of effort and what automation can be accomplished with these processes.
Adding to this, depending upon the need (voice, SMS, email), the CRM Contact Center solution is likely leveraging external systems to drive these activities, either: telephony, Twilio for SMS, or an Email API. This creates another level of administration and management and expense.
A critical aspect of outbound campaigns is in managing the interactions that continue to be part of the general customer engagements associated with any customer outreach. When it comes to outbound pacing and awareness, there are many other factors to consider, aside from simply taking action on a particular contact. This is where an ACD process is critical and excels. There are things a traditional ACD does extremely well and there really is no comparison when it comes to efficiency and expediency.
With outbound campaigns, the need to drive activity to users is critical and there is a heavy reliance upon ACD that cannot be met with most CRM Contact Center solutions. The ACD data and presence is critical for accurate and effective pacing of outbound campaigns.
When considering the outbound efforts, there is a need for detailed reporting and tracking things such as Right Party Contacts, hit rates, recycle options, outcome management, real-time suppression, and much more. The reporting needs for outbound are intrinsically different than any traditional Workflow reporting or Inbound ACD reporting. Most CRM Contact Center solutions are not equipped to handle this level of reporting as it relates to outbound campaigns and campaign management.
I always recommend bringing in an outbound expert or specialist to really get to the heart of the client’s needs before accepting the “ability to run outbound campaigns” at face value.