David Berger(pictured right),
Datapoint is a professional services company focused on enabling companies to communicate effectively with customers using a variety of communications channels.
Datapoint specialises in interpreting its clients' business strategies and developing customer interaction solutions. Whether using email, telephone, the Internet, iDTV or WAP, Datapoint helps companies to use multi-media communications to create business advantage
Q. What has been the greatest challenge the contact center industry has faced in the last 12 months and why?
A. The main challenge has been for businesses to understand what CRM means for them and how they wish to implement it. Unfortunately, too many businesses saw what their competitors were doing and reacted by implementing a CRM 'solution' without looking at, or defining, their own business and interaction strategies, often overlooking the importance of providing a better customer experience from their customer interactions. This has led to a high level of failed CRM projects, which in all likelihood would have succeeded if the business had stepped back, looked at its own objectives, the demands of its customers, the impact of change, and defined a CRM implementation roadmap first of all. The return on investment of a CRM project should have been set with achievable objectives including both soft and hard measures. For example, increased customer satisfaction levels (soft) and increased revenue streams (hard).
Q. In 2002 what do you think will be the top 3 priorities for:
b) Executives will need to address the cost and profitability, if any, of delivering services through each of the channels and define contact interaction strategies for each customer segment.
Q. What do you believe (a technology, process, attitude etc) will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 12 months - how and why?
A. The increase in the number of channels of communication between a customer and a business has led to a need for information to be effortlessly available. It is no longer satisfactory for business to call a customer back at a later stage with the required information as the customer has the ability to easily go elsewhere for the service or product.
Knowledge management tools are rapidly becoming a necessity rather than a 'nice to have' optional extra. These tools enable information to be shared and readily available to 'self-service' customers via ,for example, web or SMS channels and at the same time available to contact centre agents dealing with voice and e-mail or text chat channels. This will stop customers getting the "well it's a DVD player, that's all you need to know isn't it?" type conversation with agents who haven't been made aware of the specification of products and services. For a business, it will also mean that training costs should be reduced whilst providing an improved customer service through 'intelligent' agents.
Q. What impact have events this year (downturn in economy, terrorist attacks etc) had on your business, and how have you adapted your business, if at all?
A. We have noted a change in attitude from businesses since the events of September 11th and the recession vibes coming out of the US with many clients re-assessing their strategy and purchasing requirements for the coming year.
We believe that companies are now assessing what their capabilities are and if there is means of leveraging improvements out of existing infrastructure. This has led the Datapoint Group to adopt a consultative solution approach to customer interaction management combining the skills of both companies within the group to provide an end-to-end service for our customer.
Q. Do you feel the service you personally get as a consumer has got better or worse over the last year and why?
A. Personally, I feel that general customer service has got worse over the past 12 months. Whilst multi-channel access to products has been good for me as a consumer, I have noted that the ability of many customer services divisions to respond to my needs are not meeting my own expectation of quality, knowledgeable service.
I recently purchased some goods via a company's website and was informed whilst online that the goods were in stock and also had this confirmed via e-mail. The goods arrived a few days later but I was missing a few items. The courier confirmed that there was just the one package, so I went back online to check my order status only to find that this was not possible via the website. I rang the customer service number and when the 'order' was eventually found, I was informed that the missing items were out of stock although this took another call by the agent to confirm this with the warehouse. However, the agent kindly pointed out that if I visited one of their shops the items might be available but that she couldn't confirm this.
This situation is not uncommon and highlights the need to clearly understand, and plan, how you wish to interact with customers and how you need to integrate multiple channels of communication with business processes to enable your company and your staff to provide quality service. It should be remembered that quality service may only be obtained by correctly aligning people, processes and technology. Focusing purely on only one of these areas will cause issues in the others leading to poor service and decreased customer loyalty.
Published: Thursday, August 8, 2002