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Multi-dimensional Customer Contact Today, customer-facing businesses are at a critically important point in their development, but many do not realize it. The twin challenges of customer relationship management (CRM) and multimedia customer contact have emerged. Neither can be ignored, but both create risks of their own. • Over $150bn will have been spent by 2004 on CRM-enabling technologies. Most of this will be wasted:“through 2004, 55% of CRM initiatives will fail to meet measurable benefit objectives and will fail to positively affect return on investment” (Source: Gartner, “In Pursuit of CRM Economics”, August 7th 2000)

• Today, only 6% of customer interactions are through multimedia channels, yet 70% of e-mails are not responded to within an acceptable timeframe. By 2004, businesses can expect over one-third of customer contact to come through new media. (Source: Datamonitor,“The eServices Survey”, 2000). Individually, CRM and multimedia customer interaction would be major issues for any business. Together, they signify a major revolution in the way customers and businesses will interact. Carried out successfully, this revolution will be of huge benefit to both sides. Failure will mean decreased customer loyalty and profitability, and a massive waste of investment dollars. Many businesses know that they have to act quickly. The problem comes when clarity and planning are sacrificed for speed. The title of this book – “20:20 CRM” – emphasizes the desirability of implementing CRM and multimedia customer contact only when you understand the full vision of where you want to go, and how you can get there. Until very recently, customer contact was a fairly simple process: the customer used the telephone to call your business, and sometimes you called



them. Now, we are entering the world of multi-dimensional customer contact, where businesses must manage a mixture of live and asynchronous interactions across multiple channels and customer devices. These are complex issues: in a way, the actual technology is the easiest part of any CRM solution. One of the main risks for a business implementing CRM is that each department or division knows what it will mean for them, but does not have an overview of where the company as a whole needs to go. There are many good books available today aimed at senior executives who are concerned about CRM and the direction which businesses are taking globally. There are also well-written and comprehensive practical guides to running contact centers, aimed at operations directors, contact center managers and customer service champions. However, in many businesses, the strategy and reality are often divorced from each other. The senior business visionary may not understand the reallife issues experienced by customer-facing employees, and the operational managers are confused as to what is expected of them by a company-wide CRM implementation. This book is relevant to staff at all levels of a business – whether tactical or strategic, whether focusing on technological or commercial initiatives. In particular,

it focuses on the issues surrounding the multimedia contact center, which is at the heart of businesses’ CRM initiatives. It bridges the gap between vision and reality by showing a multidimensional view of the real-life challenges and opportunities that customerfacing businesses will experience. Readers will gain a wider understanding of how commercial issues will impact customer contact strategy and the practical solutions to these issues, from the technological, human and business process viewpoints. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to succeeding with either CRM or multimedia customer interaction. However, readers can be at the very least aware of the issues they will face before they make far-reaching and expensive investment decisions. 55% of CRM investment will be wasted. Understand the issues which this book brings up, and think about how they apply to your own business. Planning your goals, your actions and your solutions will reduce the risk that your company will be one of those helping to make up that statistic. With the technology and solutions that are available today, businesses can realistically aim for a quality of customer service which is a competitive differentiator. Strategy and tactics should go hand-in-hand as senior managers



and directors work with operational staff to achieve this goal. This book explains the specific challenges ahead for every customer-facing organization, and how to approach them, including: • CRM: is it necessary, who should do it, and how can it be done successfully? • Superior customer service: how businesses can improve the customer experience while increasing profitability • Agent turnover: managing and retaining high-quality staff • Return on investment: planning and managing successful CRM implementations, without any nasty surprises • Multimedia customer contact: delivering superior multi-dimensional customer support and increasing profitability • The impact of expansion, mergers and acquisitions on customer support: managing global, multi-site and virtual contact centers • The future of customer contact: how will customer support be delivered in five years’ time? Will there be a place for the contact center at all? The balance of fact and vision provided throughout the book will help readers to come away with a stronger understanding of what is just hype, and what is really important for their business. The CRM market as a whole has been beset by mixed messages, inflated claims and a general confusion as to what CRM really is. This is a true example of a conversation between a board director and the manager of a 30-seat contact center: Director: “I read an article on CRM – we definitely need to do it.” Contact Center Manager: “Well, our customer satisfaction rating is very high, resales and recommendations are excellent, costs are under control and staff turnover is negligible.” Director: “But we haven’t implemented CRM. Find out what we need to buy and talk to me on Monday.” Contact Center Manager: “Er…OK.” The first chapter explains what businesses can expect from CRM, how to go about it, and how to succeed. Hopefully then, readers of this book will not have to participate any more in the type of discussion seen above.


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