by Zeus Kerravala

What it takes to provide best-in-class customer experience

Jun 17, 2019
AnalyticsArtificial IntelligenceDigital Transformation

By integrating marketing automation technology and customer contact center systems, companies get a 360-degree view of the customer experience (CX), allowing them to more easily improve it.

ai vendor relationship management artificial intelligence hand on virtual screen
Credit: ipopba / Getty Images

The mandate for today’s CIO has changed markedly over the past decade. What was once a predominantly technical role has expanded to include leading most businesses through digital transformation initiatives. For most businesses, improving customer experience (CX) is their top digital initiative, as CX is now the top brand differentiator.

To improve CX, however, companies must rethink how things have been done in the past so as to remove much of the friction of customer engagements. Once such example is bridging the islands of sales, marketing, and customer service. Bringing these three historical silos together enables organizations to have a full view of the customer journey and discover key insights into the data that can be used to provide better recommendations to the customer.

In most organizations, the sales and marketing tasks are handled by a marketing automation (MarTech) tool, and customer service is done in the contact center. What happens today is that marketing might proactively reach out to buyers via email, mobile push, phone, direct mail, or other channels to inform customers of a sales, product updates, events, or something else that’s noteworthy. If the customer replies, that interaction goes into the contact center where the agent has no knowledge of the outbound activity.

Historically, contact center tools were given only to contact center agents, but over the past few years, sales and marketing professionals have also gained access to them.  This provides sales and marketing with better tools for proactive outreach, but it does nothing for the contact center. Also, any integration between the MarTech platform is either done by the user or through custom integration by the customer.

In an effort to improve the situation, contact center vendor Genesys last week announced at its Xperience19 event a partnership with MarTech solution provider Selligent. The deal will integrate the two platforms for enhanced customer experience. The coming together of the two data sets combined with artificial intelligence (AI) has some interesting implications on bridging these historical silos and delivering entirely new customer experiences.

AI takes CX to the next level

For example, the information from inside the MarTech data set can be used to improve call routing in the contact center. This is typically done by agent skills, but the marketing and sales data can identify net promoter score (NPS) and customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores that can be used to route calls to the best agent to address any problem calls.

Alternatively, compliance mandates may dictate that certain numbers be put on a do-not-contact list. Adjusting this manually can be difficult, if not impossible, but an AI with the right data can dynamically adjust the list.

Another use case is providing contact center agents with better information that can be used to create consistent, highly customized interactions. Improving CX through the contact center involves more than just ensuring the agents are polite and well trained. No matter how good an agent is, the wrong information can sour any interaction. Too many negative experiences, and it’s bye-bye customer.

The MarTech information can be analyzed to provide customer interests, journey intelligence, or personalized offers. This can be pushed to the agent, who can then relay the information to the customer. With separate platforms, the agent would need to sift through massive amounts of data with the customer on the phone. This leads to customer frustration and longer-than-necessary calls, which is the antithesis of good customer service.

MarTech and contact center integration pays off for Coolblue

Combining MarTech and contact center systems can pay huge dividends. At the event, Selligent provided data from one of its beta customers, Coolblue, an online retailer that used the integration to increase proactive outbound engagements and repurpose contact center agents into inside sales reps.

Without going into the nitty-gritty of what was done, Coolblue saw some phenomenal results, such as a 90% decrease in contact center volume, a 30% decrease in return rates, a 2-point improvement in net promoter score, and a 28% sales conversate rate on calls made to cell phones, which is typically a very low sales channel.

The digital era has arrived, and it has put CX in the crosshairs for most CIOs. Businesses that can deliver a differentiated experience will have a significant advantage over their peers. Those that don’t will fall behind. By bringing together sales, marketing, and customer service and applying AI, organizations can handle customers in ways they could not before.