Your Customer Is on the Phone. Now What?


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This scenario takes place countless times a day: A customer calls a service center with a question or issue that needs to be resolved. After sorting through various menus and prompts, the customer finally speaks to a customer service representative (CSR) and gets the answer to the question, and the call ends. The CSR moves on to the next call.

Even if the customer inquiry is answered quickly and correctly, more often than not, the transaction represents a lost opportunity.

Too many companies measure the success of their call centers on the number of calls processed in an hour. Instead, you should measure the efficiency of your call center on how much incremental revenue you are generating and the effectiveness in increasing wallet-share or average products per household.

Many companies are missing a valuable opportunity to turn inbound customer interactions into revenue-generating events. Turn the typical CSR contact into an actionable, revenue-generating event, using today’s advanced CRM technology.

Say your insurance customer is calling to report a car accident. Automatically, the customer’s profile is available to the agent, along with the person’s account history and recent products purchased. The customer requests a tow-truck. This request, in turn, triggers an event: The driver will require a vehicle while his car is being repaired. The system, recognizing the customer does not have coverage that includes a rental car, generates an offer in real time, along with an incentive. If the customer signs up for a year of additional coverage to include a rental, he can use the benefit now.

Or consider the customer who goes online to change the billing address for her cell phone. Instead of having the customer complete an online form and logging off, the change of address triggers an event. The system analyzes the customer’s usage history and patterns and provides a real-time offer to increase her service package to the next level when she purchases a new phone and signs a two-year contract.

Targeted offers

These are real-world examples of how companies can leverage technology to maximize customer interaction and generate new revenue. Such opportunities to provide targeted offers increases the wallet-share—a key metric in evaluating the success of a company.

Executives at one of the largest telecommunications providers in North America realized the company was missing a valuable opportunity every time a customer called into a contact center. The company was failing to take advantage of the inbound interaction to sell additional products and increase its most important metric: average revenue per user (ARPU).

The system, recognizing the customer does not have coverage that includes a rental car, generates an offer in real time.

With the deployment of a CRM system to increase the company’s inbound marketing effectiveness, the provider was able to offer in real time additional services that met the specific needs of each customer, rather than a generic promotion that would appeal only to a subset of customers. The strategic use of technology within the enterprise now enables CSRs to cross-sell mobile, Internet, landline and TV service—and present attractive offers that customers are likely to accept.

The above operator has realized a 15-percent increase in ARPU, a 75-percent increase in campaign velocity, an 18-percent increase in CSR sales per hour and a 50-percent offer response rate versus the industry average of 35 percent.

Companies are increasingly turning to technology to develop revenue opportunities. The key is to use real-time data mining technology for the greatest return. By implementing a strategic approach to CRM, organizations are able to turn the tables and realize revenue gains from common inbound interactions.

There is a delicate balancing act between meeting the current need of the customer—the reason for the interaction—and pitching for new sales. The challenge comes in maintaining a positive customer experience throughout the interaction. You can do this by:

  • Maintaining a continuous customer dialogue. All customer communication, regardless of channel, should be consistent and relevant to the individual customer. By maintaining an ongoing dialogue with customers, companies learn more about their wants and needs and are able to offer superior products and services. This ongoing communication also leads to increased brand loyalty and customer retention.

  • By using real-time analytics. Through ongoing communication, companies are able to gather and analyze more information to offer tailored promotions. For this to be successful, the analysis and offers must occur in real-time, when your product is top of mind. A follow-up mailer two weeks after the inbound interaction is likely to be dismissed and forgotten.

  • By making every interaction count. Blend service, sales and marketing to provide a 360-degree view of the customer. With a continuous customer dialogue and real-time analytics, you can make sure that each customer interaction is preceded by another and all the information is captured and used, regardless of channel. Imagine that a customer logged onto a banking web site, clicked on an offer for a new credit card and then closed the window. The bank could capture that information and have a customer service rep ask the customer if he has any questions about the credit card offer when he next phones in.

With technology at its core, a successful call center strategy is one that can build customer loyalty and deliver profitable customer relationships. These principles, in combination with intelligent CRM software, can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of your customer. This understanding can translate into revenue—and increased customer satisfaction—because you are anticipating and fulfilling the customer’s needs. And, in this way, you can transform your call center into a profit center.

Patric Timmermans
Strategic product marketing leader with successful track record of driving global, cross-organizational initiatives that deliver value to the customer and business. Expertise in product management and all facets of product marketing, including partner, channel, content, and demand generation. Builder of go-to-market strategies, plans and programs focused on revenue generation and customer acquisition.


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