As large business-to-consumer brands increasingly transform their contact centres into profit centres, a key priority over the year ahead will be to exploit customer information from across the organisation in order to target sales more effectively.
According to a survey among 135 call centre managers in the UK and US undertaken by Loudhouse Research on behalf of Pitney Bowes Business Insight’s CRM applications business, Portrait Software, a huge 69% of large B2C businesses now consider their call centres to be important revenue generators.
But while agents were increasingly being expected to pursue new cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, 86% of respondents admitted that staff required a broader range of skills than they currently had to do so. This was despite the fact that 85% acknowledged that personnel were a key means of conveying their organisation’s brand values, making their role even more critical in developing profitable customer relationships.
In a bid to try and close the skills gap, three out of five respondents indicated that a key focus over the next 12 months would be to better integrate customer data from different departments, with 54% concentrating on integrating call data with online customer service systems.
Luke McKeever, Portrait’s chief executive, said: "Organisations are realising that traditional, outbound marketing, particularly via the telephone, offers diminishing returns for the business. As such the future of the customer relationship resides in sustained, informed and tailored customer service and the call centre is a critical factor in this process."
Although many customers did not anticipate being sold to, they did expect to have their requirements understood and their needs met on an ongoing basis and being able to do so would build loyalty and increase customer engagement, he added.
"Looking ahead, as markets continue to become more competitive, it will be those that use intelligent company-wide data to fully understand the needs of their customers and to make relevant and timely offers that will ultimately succeed," McKeever said.