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Dear Unknown

March 5, 2009 - 0 Comments

Such was the salutation of a message sent to a friend recently. The heading of the message went on to state that Acme Corp. (name changed to protect the guilty) prided itself on a “personal” touch and differentiated customer service. This slight mishap, while clearly a marketing campaign automation failure, was a clear testament of how much harder an enterprise must strive for perfection when communicating with customers. Now more than ever, corporations are refocusing their energy on improving customer service by retraining customer care representatives, investing in enabling technologies and replacing aging legacy equipment. Clearly, Acme Corp. would have done better to avert such a faux pas. The reality is that today’s environment requires a reinvigorated look at how Customer Care organizations, in partnership with Marketing and IT, can evolve or even rethink their customer service strategy — a strategy which, in today’s economic climate, must aim to better understand the customer and adapt to her or his communication needs.The economic realities in front of us mean that in many cases budgets are being cut and many organizations are focusing on cost cutting measures. What some organizations are failing to realize is that operating in this recession mode means that they risk serious customer attrition when customer centric initiatives and investments go by the way side. The message my friend received only prompted me to share some thoughts on my experience hearing or reading about organizations’ reaction to the state of retracting economies worldwide and their limited buying power; but it might have meant the loss of a customer to Acme Corp. Amidst this environment, I continue to see pioneering organizations -often those that continuously rank highest for their Customer Service -selectively invest in Next Generation Customer Contact applications and infrastructure. These organizations recognize how these investments enable them to meet customer expectations, today, and most importantly, exceed those same or evolving expectations tomorrow. They recognize that now is not the time to lose customers because of the service experience they provide. Depending on the industry, the customer acquisition cost can be high or low but what is essential is the need to understand the customer’s needs from a product or service perspective. This understanding begins and ends with how you communicate with these customers, physically or virtually. Are you ensuring that across your customer base, all communication channels are leveraged to their full potential? Can you, as a technical or business decision maker, speak to the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns? How well are you reaching your up-sell or cross-sell goals? Are you offering multiple modes of communication and options for how your customers choose to reach you? Is your self-service or assisted-service strategy working? How difficult or easy is it for your customer care representatives to service your customers? Do they have all the necessary tools and customer information at their disposal? How much do”they” know the customers they are interacting with?by Soufinane Houri, product manager, Cisco Customer Contact Business Unit

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