Saturday, March 14, 2009

Call Center –> Contact Center –> Enterprise 2.0


While in the 90s Customer Support predominantly happened on the phone, with the rise of eCommerce new channels were added and the “Call Center” was renamed to “Contact Center”. Unfortunately some of the additional channels (other than Email) like online chat or instant messaging (IM) did not get very popular due to technical limitations in the pre-Web 2.0 era and the missing experience of customers with this kind of communication.

In the current economic climate the agent costs are being reduced by the use of tools like knowledge management or customer self service. RightNow is a CRM tool focusing on this area and  showing some popularity when the focus is short- and mid-term savings (without losing customer satisfaction).

With the rise of Web 2.0, there are additional channels that need to be supported like blogs, micro-blogs, forums, wikis, social networks, SEO, etc. Within a CRM 2.0 strategy, the increased transparency and the concept of an Enterprise 2.0 helps reducing the costs even further by allowing direct contact into the company (even right to the experts) and establishing conversations that not only reduce the need for specialized support agent, but also help building the self service capabilities and knowledge management repository. is recently growing the number of partners to leverage these new channels for its new customer support strategy.

In addition to the savings, the conversations help analyzing the customer requirements and aligning the product development with the customer needs. Involving customers also helps creating advocates - opening additional (viral~) marketing channels.

It has to be kept in mind, though, that these new channels are mostly targeted towards a tech-savvy and younger audience that is familiar with the new technologies. It would be a bad idea to completely shut down telephone support or tele-sales, even if the target group is the generation Y and techies.

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