Introducing a new concept and a new term to describe it can be slow going. My office has an entire bookshelf unit built from recovered barnboard and encyclopedias: why let go? A buddy’s plumbing business still receives faxes. My mom still has a VCR. So when we introduced the concept of the Customer Engagement Center to describe the next generation of Contact Center, we knew it would take some time.
If you are a Gartner client you can read some of the explanations of what we are thinking in more depth here: http://gtnr.it/1f9hKmz. The essence of the discussion is this: maybe the customer is not reaching out to you – they haven’t made ‘contact.’ Perhaps they are on a mobile device and based on their location you want to give them an alert or an update. Perhaps they are on social media commenting about you and you want to interact with them. Maybe you don’t want just a transactional notion of customer but a relationship-focus: you want a higher level of trust and more engagement to achieve that.
We call the synthesis of social media engagement, intelligent device data, and CRM interaction software the customer engagement center. It is both a process change and a technology change, and it is transforming the contact center, disrupting the established software offerings for contact center software, and opening up new market opportunities.
Who would not want to promote the term and the concept? Well, anyone who is focused on what was cutting edge 15 years ago. They didn’t like VoIP, and they don’t like the Cloud. Or they don’t have the capacity to change, or, if they are a software vendor, they don’t have the capacity to build or buy the necessary components.
To better engage customers, better analytics are required in the hands of agents. Better integration of channels is essential. Better knowledge management tools. Better collaboration tools. Better social media engagement capabilities. New types of hiring. In short, new ways of thinking and doing. In the middle of the 1800s, a French philosopher named Karr wrote that the more things change, the more that they remain the same (Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…). And that can be said here: it has always been hard to embrace real change, as so many people have a vested interest in the status quo. But with the enormous access that customers have to alternative sources of information, and alternative choices for products and services, you are faced with engaging them where and when and how they believe you ought to engage them, or off they go.
So: what do you think? We mentioned the Customer Engagement Center two months ago and you’ve had a bit of time to chew on it: does it make sense? I’ll be waiting for that chime, “You’ve got mail!”