Everyone is Accountable for Customer Engagement - including IT

Matt Matsui, Senior Vice President of Products, Markets and Organizational Strategy, Calabrio
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Matt Matsui, Senior Vice President of Products, Markets and Organizational Strategy, Calabrio

The departments within a company don’t always speak the same language—try having a conversation with someone “across the aisle” and you’ll know what I mean. One is talking about lead funnel optimization, or subscription billings and general ledger reconciliation, and another about server performance. The issues sound different, but they could be talking about the same thing—customer service. This is what makes determining which team “owns” customer engagement difficult.

"Leveraging new, digital channels for customer engagement is not as simple as spinning up a Twitter handle or putting a ‘call us’ button on the website"

While Marketing is often designated as the customer champion, customer engagement is really an enterprise function. Customer engagement technologies are either purchased or selected by a wide variety of corporate stakeholders, including CMOs, CROs, CIOs/IT Managers, Customer Care Advocates, Contact Center Executives and Customer Experience Management (CXM) officers.That’s not exactly the picture of consistency, but it shows that the question of who owns the customer is answered in many different ways.

According to a recent Frost & Sullivan report on customer experience management, silos are the main obstacle to the adoption of customer engagement solutions. However, customer engagement represents a tremendous opportunity for the whole enterprise to drive value, including IT.

Companies previously interacting with customers primarily face-to-face are now opening more digital channels for customers. Leveraging new, digital channels for customer engagement is not as simple as spinning up a Twitter handle or putting a ‘call us’ button on the website.If you build it, they will come—if the customer has a problem, they will call you. If they can’t find something on the website, they will email you. If there’s a problem with an order, they will Tweet about it. Be ready.

IT is solely responsible for ensuring that various systems are setup to capture all in-bound customer insights coming from a variety of channels. From server racks and data storage capacity to implementation and training the line of business, IT is an integral piece of every software install.

Additionally, IT should rise up to become an enabler, allowing the business to easily extract the insights. They still have to support the applications—implement the system, manage the data and keep everything running all the time—but they should also be mindful of the business needs to ensure the data is accessible whenever and wherever it is needed. This puts the IT department in an increasingly strategic position to provide actionable insights for the business through big data and analytics tools.

This may seem like just another workload or tool request that the line of business is off-loading to or asking for from IT; but that understates the importance and value of the transaction. IT is uniquely equipped to handle new platforms and data integration, and marketing is similarly equipped when it comes to defining the customer journey. It would be a mistake to allow these two internal teamsoperate in anything but lockstep.

Customer engagement is at the epicenter for customer insights and quality customer service, and the investment  trends in customer engagement solutions reflect this. In five years, customer experience will overtake price and product for key differentiator, according to a Customers 2020 report. For those companies that can strongly align Marketing and IT this is really great news.

Once you have a solution in place, it’s really all about the data. Structuring and providing context to unstructured data is a huge deal. Business intelligence and analytics solutions have been doing rows and columns for more than 20 years— structured data isn’t the challenge. The challenge has always been finding the best way to structure unstructured data so you can aggregate and query the information in a simple way to draw out insights. It’s much more difficult to understand the content, aggregate like data and identify the context when you’re querying multiple types of data, like a voice recording or video file and text. There are a few software solutions that are beginning to automate this, but it still needs to be guided by someone who can make sense of mass quantities of data. Because of this, many companies have hired corporate data scientists. At Calabrio, we hire data scientists and build analytics solutions into the product so our customers don’t have to—they should be focused on using the data to grow the business, not deciphering it.

Once you have insights to work with, you can begin to use that information to plan what happens next for the company or customer lifecycle. Predictive analytics will be the next big breakthrough for the industry. Companies will begin to see patterns in customer experience data that will enable them to more accurately forecast growth.

So who owns customer engagement in the enterprise? Everyone. Breaking down departmental silos will allow companies to transform customer engagement into a driver of top-line revenue growth for the business.

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