Monday, September 05, 2005

Automated Contact Center is New
Nerve Center for Contextual Marketing

The future of business success lies in impacting customer relationships. Twenty years ago, we told our customers how to solve their problems and what they needed for solutions. Today they tell us what they want us to do.

Companies need a marketing architecture to interweave the talent and resources within a continually learning, networked team that improves as it engages customers, reacts to competition and adds capabilities. Marketing techniques for influencing people are being embedded into software and technology-supported systems. The software and the network will become the means a business uses to build and maintain its customer relationships. Enterprises that are slow to adapt to the new marketing paradigm will vanish, and those that do adapt will become market leaders.

The idea that customers are lemmings is so ingrained in the thinking process that marketing executives have missed the opportunity to go beyond traditional marketing thinking, departmental architecture and technology support.

A prime example is the in-house contact center.

Cost management may be the initial motivation to install customer-facing technology in the contact center, but once the systems are in place, the motivation quickly turns to one of serving customers and growing revenue. In some companies, such as Cincom, the contact center is housed within the marketing department. In other companies, it resides in customer service, or sales, or IT. Wherever it sits it must come under the influence of marketing so that the skills in customer development can be applied consistently across the company.

Technologies like Cincom’s Synchrony are converting contact centers into computerized network managers, receiving and integrating all the various customer interfaces -- including phone, fax and Internet requests -- and then orchestrating and directing the appropriate responses. Such contact centers are now the information nerve center that enables a real-time "customer listening process."

Making these interactions unique and positive experiences for customers demands creativity. We must develop new ways to deploy the network and engage participants. We build trust by delivering consistent results.

Information, customer expectations and satisfaction, and brand must operate as inseparable, closely interrelated partners. The common unifying thread across this architecture is information turned into content. That’s where our skills as contextual marketers will come into play.

We need to learn how to capture the right information and plan in advance how we will use that information, first, to serve the customer and, second, to grow our businesses. Contextually relevant content is the new path to increasing revenue. We must think more like customers think. Anticipate their needs, their interests and then have responsive content ready to go, depending upon how and what the customer decides to do.


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