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Call centres set to further embrace CRM

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13th Oct 2008
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A new report indicates that investment in CRM solutions in contact centres is set for strong growth. Can it solve the twin challenges of customer service standards and agent turnover?

By Stuart Lauchlan, news and analysis editor

With retention more important than customer acquisition in an economic downturn, enterprises are set to increase their investment in CRM and unified desktop solutions.

According to a new report by independent market analyst Datamonitor - 'CRM in the Contact Center and the Emergence of the Unified Agent Desktop' - the global market for contact centre CRM licences and services was almost $2 billion in 2007. Investment in CRM solutions in contact centres will increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 10% through 2013, reckons the analyst firm.

"In order to improve customer service and develop better agent-customer relationships, there is a demand for better user interfaces and for customer services agents to have more visibility into customer information."

Aphrodite Brinsmead, Datamonitor

“Enterprises' leading strategic goals are cost reduction and customer retention,” said Aphrodite Brinsmead, analyst at Datamonitor. "In order to improve customer service and develop better agent-customer relationships, there is a demand for better user interfaces and for customer services agents to have more visibility into customer information.

“Enterprises want a better understanding of how their customers and customer service agents are interacting to improve service and thereby retention rates. Agents need to have access to a greater depth of information in order to help enterprises provide differentiated customer service.”

Doing more with less

“The sluggish economy and fears of a recession will inevitably cause lower consumer spending levels which will impact organisations,” added Brinsmead. “As a result, there will be a tightening of IT and marketing budgets within enterprises. Enterprises need to improve customer service in order to retain customers, particularly where products are commoditised and customer service is seen as a differentiator. Towards this end, CRM solutions in the contact centre are being deployed to help provide customer services agents with more detailed information on customers and their historical transactions and information. This should help increase first call resolution rates and lead to cost reduction in contact centres.

"The contact centre will become more streamlined with the rest of the enterprise over the next few years as companies look to reassess existing assets and do more with less."

Aphrodite Brinsmead, Datamonitor

“Moreover, enterprises are also keen to improve system usability and reduce agent turnover. Recruitment and training costs for new staff can be high and the notion that improved user interfaces and more accurate customer data will increase staff retention rates is becoming an important value proposition for the unified agent desktop. These factors are driving adoption of the unified agent desktop in contact centres.”
 
The report also highlights that the use of analytics with CRM is increasing at a brisk rate in contact centres as management are under constant pressure to optimise operations while uncovering trends within aggregated customer data. As customer analytics grows as a CRM tool, real-time predictive decisioning, which automatically guides agents to the next best action, will play a bigger role in contact centres.

“The contact centre will become more streamlined with the rest of the enterprise over the next few years as companies look to reassess existing assets and do more with less,” said Brinsmead. “Towards this end CRM and customer analytics will be important in bringing about this initiative.””

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