This article was originally published in Destination CRM. Author: Miguel Noronha.
Consumers are all too familiar with the customer service call routine. They call in with questions and are met with representatives who then put them on hold in order to patch in others who can better assist them. This process continues until they finally connect with the right agents—which can feel like eternity, especially for callers who need fast, simple answers.
This, unfortunately, is a frequent occurrence, and the culprit is often siloed buyer information. So how can you break this cycle? The solution lies in combining all customer data into a single CRM database that minimizes friction and maximizes positive engagement.
The Relationship Between Data Consolidation and CRM
By funneling all customer information into a rich database, companies can simplify interactions—both for the people they serve and the ones they employ.
A consolidated CRM data strategy can help foster a dynamic contact engagement center. In this new system, agents have access to any customer data they might need. For example, do you want to know a customer’s contact preferences? With a centralized data management system, that information is stored on a platform along with the last time that customer made a purchase or emailed you about an issue.
Having historical activity in one centralized data center allows you to get a 360-degree view of your customers. Rather than having to study different databases to understand a customer’s requirements or predict future behavior, team members can pull those insights from a single source. This can lead to more confident problem-solving because teammates know where to find the answer to just about any question—from billing to customer care.
In a consolidated CRM database, every record is automatically stored and immediately available. This approach negates the need for service representatives to sift through program after program. Instead of pulling up different screens and keeping customers on the line, agents can rapidly navigate one database while still getting the most relevant real-time data.
The Advantages of a Centralized Database
Some of the benefits of a well-designed CRM data strategy are obvious. Others are less apparent at first—but have fantastic long-term effects. A centralized database does the following:
1. Fosters multichannel communications. Customers want access to different channels at different times. On Mondays, Jill might prefer to use her email at work. During Ted’s Friday lunch hour, he needs to speak with someone over the phone. And over the weekend, Samantha chats with a bot from her recliner.
A centralized data center can simplify all these touchpoints by giving customers the freedom to access the information they need, regardless of which channel they choose. This will also allow for the contact center to have an omnichannel view of the customer — meaning that you won’t lose any valuable information when customers inevitably transition to different channels. This level of consistency improves vendor confidence tremendously.
2. Helps save customers’ time. You’d be hard-pressed to find a customer who doesn’t want his or her concern resolved quickly. By housing all customer information in one spot, you enable representatives to locate data faster and find better solutions. Additionally, a consolidated database can solve problems that might creep up mid-conversation. For instance, if a customer needs to update a credit card number or asks about a recent payment, having a centralized hub allows representatives to pull that information quickly and use it to better service the customer.
3. Enables cross-selling and upselling. As team members get used to having a wealth of buyer knowledge at their fingertips, they can cross-sell and upsell customers. Centralized CRM databases allow agents to notice trends and recommend solutions in real time.
For example, let’s say a customer calls in to discuss one product, but over the course of the conversation, the agent realizes that a different product from your company’s suite of offerings would better serve the customer’s needs. Armed with the customer’s past behaviors, geographic location, and other important data, the agent can make an informed recommendation.
4. Boosts employee morale. Your employees probably hate scrambling to find information just as much as your customers hate waiting for it. When they can more efficiently help others, agents feel empowered and engaged. Unsurprisingly, this leads to employees feeling more fulfilled at work, which can positively impact your bottom line, overall productivity, and sales numbers.
Technological advancements allow organizations the chance to level up their customer service and sales games like never before. Explore the possibility of instituting a consolidated contact engagement center at your organization. You could end up disrupting the competition while building a reputation for truly exceptional customer interactions and lightning-fast resolution delivery.
Miguel Noronha is executive vice president of Portugal, North America, United Kingdom, and global accounts at Altitude Software, a global provider of contact center solutions. Noronha has been with Altitude for 20 years and has gained vast experience through his positions as senior consultant, project manager, and director. He is dedicated to helping organizations unify all customer interactions and become more customer-centric.