Marketing and the Contact Center should be friends

No heroes or villains – just happy customers and good business

If the traditional, hit-and-miss contact center operation relies too much on occasional sparkling performances by one or two hero agents, it is often clear who gets the blame as the villain from the marketing perspective.  From the contact center’s point of view, it’s usually the marketing director and his minions who are responsible for any problems. In this managerial melodrama, the marketing department is accused of causing all kinds of problems by letting down the agents in the front line.

“Marketing didn’t tell us about the new campaign until the day it was launched,” is one familiar criticism.

“Marketing didn’t give us enough information or training on the new product or service.”

“Marketing didn’t tell us how we should pitch the new offer.”

“We talk to customers all day long, but marketing doesn’t even think of consulting with us on what our customers say about us.”

Sadly, as you and I know, it’s not uncommon for some or all of these complaints to be true.  Marketing focuses their efforts and attention on campaigns and activities to capture potential buyers and persuade them to enter the store, visit the website, or pick up the telephone – that’s what their performance is measured on. What happens after that is seen as someone else’s responsibility.

Contact centers need marketing’s insight is saying that 94 percent of all marketing money is spent getting the customers in the door, which leaves just 6 percent on dealing with them once they’re there.

But marketers don’t know all the answers in advance. They spend a lot of their time working on guesstimates or incomplete information from small-group surveys. It’s not until the prospects reach the contact center that we start to hear the true voice of the customer – what the real people in the real-life situations think and feel about the products and services they’re offered.

And at that point, the marketer would be wise to stop talking and start listening. Because there, in the recorded calls, is almost everything marketing needs to know to fine tune its offers and campaigns.

If the contact center hasn’t been the marketer’s best friends in the past, they certainly should be now.  Analyzed properly, these recorded interactions with customers are a goldmine of information and insight. 

What should emerge now is a real two-way relationship, with contact centers and marketers sharing and comparing, with both gaining enormous benefits from working together.

Sometimes that happens, and everything goes like clockwork.  Other times, there is just no chance for marketing and the contact center coaches to get into a team huddle, rally the troops, answer all the questions, and get everyone up to speed. And even if they are all physically in the same building, that’s no guarantee that there will be a meeting of minds. 

That’s where technology can help. Modern systems make distance irrelevant. And today’s smart systems do a whole lot more than just pass on information.

At NICE, we feel it is crucial to provide information, tools, and real-time, on-the-fly guidance for contact center agents, wherever they are located, drawing on all the knowledge and data marketing has available.  And it’s as crucial to provide marketing with constant visibility to the golden insights from customers’ feedback and intents captured in the contact center.

Technology can bridge the gaps

This kind of support helps the agent and helps the contact center improve many aspects of its performance. On the other hand, it helps marketers optimize the products and the marketing programs around them. But it also helps the customers who call in, giving them access to faster service, more relevant offers and suggestions, and a better all-round customer experience. 

If contact centers often blame marketing for keeping them in the dark, marketing’s complaint is that the contact centers fail to execute. “The campaign was great and we delivered thousands of hot prospects, but what did they do? They wasted half the potential.”

Maybe they did. But maybe marketing could have done more to produce a better set of outcomes. And maybe there was feedback the contact center could have passed back that would have helped marketing do that.

Blame helps nobody in these situations. The differences of viewpoint and mindset are probably inevitable – possibly even, in some ways, healthy. But the key is to embrace marketing and empower contact center employees, using appropriate technology to bridge any gaps and make the whole operation work in harmony. Just as the best systems help raise the performance levels of individual agents, they can also enable the departments involved to work better together to get the great results that both sides want.   

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