Magazine article CRM Magazine

Combine and Conquer: Consolidation Can Benefit Customers and Companies Alike

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Combine and Conquer: Consolidation Can Benefit Customers and Companies Alike

Article excerpt

THE SOYLENT CO. Weyland-Yutani. Omni Consumer Products. Megacorporations have long been a standard trope in dystopic fiction, usually as an illustration of the downsides of consolidation and centralization of corporate power. From experimental military and policing hardware to exciting new foodstuffs made from people, these mega-corporations wielded massive influence, made possible by vertical and horizontal monopolies.

While contemplating the evils of mustachio-twirling would-be oligarchs can provide hours of great entertainment, obviously not all consolidation involves nefarious plans. In fact, some consolidation can be greatly beneficial and evolve naturally. Take this Service Awards issue of CRM, in which two Service Leaders categories, Web Interaction Management and Web Self-Service, are being presented as distinct entities. [Editors' Note: Those categories appear on pages 28 and 29.]

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Not that long ago, those categories were distinct entities, but those lines are blurring just as the functionality of the two categories begins to blur--or consolidate, to get back to our theme. What's emerging is a more holistic approach that allows companies to create a single strategy for interacting with customers, whether in an agent-assisted environment or a self-service one, a proactive mode or a reactive one.

This consolidation of categories makes perfect sense on several different axes: Both Web interaction management and Web self-service rely on strong knowledge-base technologies to provide value to the customer. Both aim to provide service when the customer wants it and in the channel of the customer's choice. Additionally, companies have been striving to create some consistency in the face presented to the customer across channels and across interactions. A customer should get the same answer to her query regardless of whether she speaks to a contact center agent in India, has a Web-based chat with an agent working from home in Tallahassee, or searches a self-service knowledge base.

That customer should also have the same service experience--that quasi-branding level of consistent experience designed to foster customer loyalty--no matter the channel. To create that type of consistency, silos such as agent-assisted service and self-service need to be consolidated into something more akin to just plain service. …

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