How do I… Get a single view of the customer?


We asked our experts what you need to do to achieve a single view of the customer.

Link all of your customer identifiers together

Integrating contact centre interaction history with your CRM is key to creating a single view of the customer.

Typically, each interaction channel or business application uses a unique identifier, for example, a phone number, an email address, a Twitter handle, an account or order number. To truly know a customer, companies therefore must link all these identifiers within a CRM application.

Richard Pinnington

Richard Pinnington

You’ll need to integrate with an established CRM platform and provide for bidirectional data transfer between the CRM and the contact centre to drive a single customer view in an accurate and constantly updated ‘master customer record’.

Take care of channel-hopping customers

If you provide (increasingly tech-savvy) agents with modern tools to manage “channel-hopping” customers via social and private channels in a single desktop, they are more productive, more efficient, and ultimately deliver better customer service. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most to business decision makers.

Plan for the future

You need to create a contact centre that supports all interaction channels. It should be sufficiently flexible to be able to add new channels that we haven’t even seen yet (would Twitter have featured as an interaction channel 18 months ago?).

With thanks to Richard Pinnington, LiveOps

Feature a real-time contact channel

Knowing a customer’s history is fine, but you also need to have complete visibility of all their most recent interactions – regardless of the channel.

Unified agent desktops are good at consolidating data from multiple front and back-office systems and applications. Where they’re less good, however, is in picking up the email a customer sent yesterday that might still be in the queue waiting to be answered, the Facebook message they sent a couple of days ago, or details of the live chat they had this morning.

Having a true single view of the customer means not only tracking all these interactions, but also being able to group them together intelligently. At one of our energy customers, for example, the ability to group emails together has helped improve contact centre efficiency by over 30%, not least because agents are able to close off multiple interactions through a single resolution.

Give customer service teams the ability to customise their agent desktops

No two contact centres are the same, so it’s important to give customer service teams the opportunity to fine tune the agent desktop to meet their specific needs.

Susannah Richardson

Susannah Richardson

Having a single customer view is fine, but what if that view needs to change to reflect different sales campaigns or marketing promotions? That’s why you need to be able to create and customise your own ‘smart’ agent desktop views – ideally without getting IT involved for every little detail.

The best solutions here are the ones that even non-specialist staff can take advantage of – using a simple, drag and drop, fully configurable ‘no coding’ model. Our experience is that if agents have the ability to configure their own desktops, they’ll always know exactly where to look for the information they need during a busy interaction.

With thanks to Susannah Richardson, Marketing Director at mplsystems

Gather actionable insight from your colleagues – not just your customers

Listen to your colleagues. In the contact centre, people might be talking with or emailing your customers hundreds of times a week. If you simply rely on customer surveys or operational data you are missing a trick.

Make sure your ‘voice of the colleague’ programme also creates ‘actionable insight’ and that you are correlating this with other sources of information to create a single view that is customer-focused. It’s good to remember that seemingly ‘back office’ roles directly impact customer experience too.

And it’s not enough just to collect information. You need to demonstrate that you know what matters to them – and to the customer. They need to see things genuinely change. If you have information about the customer but nothing is changing, then you haven’t truly listened.

Obtain board-level buy-in

Paul Smedley

Paul Smedley

To achieve a single view of the customer, you will need board-level buy-in. This is because success is measured not by nice words or sentiment, but by the shape of the corporate budget and key performance indicators at all levels.

Good customer service doesn’t necessarily cost more, but you will need a budget (time and money) set aside to support the many changes that are usually necessary to improve the customer experience. These changes often save money in the long run, but they need investment to start with.

The good news is that there is a growing body of evidence that listening to customers – and truly understanding their experience – directly translates into better business results.

With thanks to Paul Smedley, Founder & Chair of the Professional Planning Forum

Be clear about what you want to achieve

David Ford

David Ford

It is vital that you understand what your contact centre is aiming to achieve – whether that is an increase in customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty, more successful first call resolution, or the key to differentiating your brand in a competitive market.

Armed with that information you are ready to put together a single view of the customer that adds value to your organisation’s bottom line while avoiding unnecessary IT spending.

With thanks to David Ford, Managing Director of Magnetic North

Build contextual intelligence into digital channels

Richard McCrossan

Richard McCrossan

Building contextual intelligence into a digital customer service solution allows a business to hold one seamless conversation with a customer across all channels.

Customers use the channel they feel is most appropriate at that moment and switch to another channel when it becomes more convenient. That jump across channels must not erase all context – the key is the ability to see what just happened on another channel.

Understanding the best ways to interact with customers on digital channels can provide great experiences most of the time. But for those instances where a human touch can make the difference, digital customer service needs to be able to feed into an intelligent voice routing system.

With thanks to Richard McCrossan, Strategic Business Director of Digital Channels at Genesys

You need to know what your customers have done and why

Creating a single view of the customer is about knowing what your customers have done, why they have done it, what they are doing now, what they are most likely to do in the future and how you can positively influence these elements to the benefit of both the customer and the organisation.

Craig Pumfrey

Craig Pumfrey

To do this effectively, you should gather feedback about their current attitudes and opinions about their service experience, and make sure you have the facilities to direct this information back in to all the necessary areas of the organisation.

With thanks to Craig Pumfrey, NICE Systems

Integrate outbound calls into the desktop

The cost of multichannel can be reduced by converting the enquiry into an outbound call. A phone call will elicit much more detail about your customer than other channels – and you can control the content.

Ken Reid

Ken Reid

Desktop scripting support tools can facilitate this by presenting appropriate information from the initial multichannel enquiry to the agent. One of our clients receives email enquiries, then checks to see if it’s got a phone number for that customer and if not, sends a return email to ask for one.

It is quicker to phone, and mixing that information with your other data will identify patterns and reasons for customer behaviour.

With thanks to Ken Reid, Rostrvm Solutions

Integrate your telephony and CRM

A CRM system is a powerful tool for managing relationships with customers but, on its own, it relies on agents keeping track of customer calls – meaning key information can go unreported and untracked. By adding a contact centre solution, you can ensure seamless integration between voice communications and the rest of your CRM system.

Agents can benefit from a pop-up window on their screen with information about an inbound caller, meaning customers receive a more joined-up service. Likewise, for outgoing calls, contact centre workers can see detailed customer information prior to making the call. Calls can also be recorded and saved as part of a customer record.

Move to the cloud

Jonathan Gale

Jonathan Gale

It is most effective for businesses to use a single telephony and CRM system across multiple sites and teams. Moving to the cloud encourages the adoption of one global standard for technology rather than disparate systems which can be difficult to integrate and get a single view of the customer with.

With a cloud solution, as long as an agent has access to a phone and web-connected computer, they can log in to the same system from any location.

With thanks to Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia

Make the information useful, relevant and timely

With the amount of data that can be gathered about a customer when they interact with you, knowing how to present this data to people in a way that they can understand can be a difficult task.

Try to display this information ‘at a glance’; most agents are not used to looking at rows of information and knowing how to use it.

If in doubt – ask your agents.

Dave Ogden

Dave Ogden

Thread together conversations about a particular topic

Conversations about a particular issue or topic may not be ‘threaded’ and may be stored separately – if this is the case, it can be hard to find the right information to understand how an interaction was actually concluded.

Threading this information together for everyone to see can help to create a single view of the customer.

With thanks to Dave Ogden, Solutions Consultant at Aspect Software

How do you achieve a single view of the customer?

Please leave your comments in an email to Call Centre Helper

Author: Megan Jones

Published On: 20th Nov 2013 - Last modified: 14th Jun 2024
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , , , , , , , , ,

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