Have customer-centric processes arrived in the contact center?

It's been a long journey, but are companies finally ready to incorporate customer-centric processes into their contact center operations?

Incorporating customer experience management into the contact center is a great opportunity to reduce costs and improve efficiency. This is the first time that organizations are creating customer-centric processes by looking at them from the customer perspective. There are new tools in place, such as customer journey mapping and analytics that support the identification of issues in customer-centric processes. Creating a positive customer experience is about crossing the silos of different functional areas from a customer perspective.

With customer journey mapping, companies mine feedback from customers with regard to pain points at different steps of the process; whether it's at the point of sale or with the use of the product. Speech analytics provides insight into the true voice of the customer and is an opportunity for companies to determine the root cause of customer issues. It allows us to use keywords to extract the context of customer issues for further analysis. Business intelligence pemits us to see how changes in one area might affect another.

The evolution of customer-centric processes

Historically, companies have evaluated processes from an internal perspective and not from that of the customer. This was seen as a noble effort, but it had many shortcomings. In the 1980s, organizations employed a total quality management process in which they tried to optimize quality at each individual step in the process. Quality management was always assigned internally and there were various steps to make sure that errors didn't occur within an internal process, but it didn't look at overarching processes.

In the 1990s, companies wanted to re-engineer processes to minimize cost and improve speed and quality, but there was too much emphasis on cost reduction and, again, no input from the customer. Eventually, companies started considering the customer perspective -- through customer satisfaction surveys and feedback -- but again, this was on a transaction basis; it required recall from a customer and was fabulous when an organization got a highly satisfied rating, but the company never examined the underlying cause of customer problems.

We're now in the customer experience world, which is aimed at evaluating the entire customer relationship and using information from that to modify internal processes. Companies consider many stages of the customer journey, from when customers first encounter the product to when they purchase it, to how they use it, and then follow-up -- typically through a contact center.

We're looking closely at the company/customer relationship, but also how that relationship impacts different functional areas such as advertising, marketing, manufacturing and customer contact through the contact center. If something isn't explained well at the point of sale, how does that ultimately impact the customer's use of the product? And if the customer has a problem using the product or service and has to contact the contact center, how does that impact other processes?

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