TMC this year celebrates 30 years of covering customer interaction, which means it couldn’t be a better time to look at where we’ve been with customer service and where we’re going. We’re also rebranding our customer experience effort. In this installment of our CUSTOMER coverage, we talk with Dennis DeGregor, worldwide CRM executive at HP. DeGregor is the author of the book The Customer-Transparent Enterprise. Prior to joining HP in 2011, he served as vice president and chief CRM officer for both Bank of America and Allstate. He’s also served as vice president of CRM and customer information management at Merrill Lynch and corporate vice president of enterprise CRM at Qwest.
What has been the most important development in the past 30 years related to customer interactions?
DeGregor: The development of big data analysis capabilities for both structured and unstructured data and the ability to convert that data into service, sales and marketing interaction rules in both the company’s own channels and social media.
In the past decade?
DeGregor: Self-service – both web and IVR.
In the recent past?
DeGregor: The proliferation of social media, and mobility and location-based services.
When and why did the trend toward call center offshoring take off?
DeGregor: The offshore trend started in the early 2000s and was motivated by efforts to reduce operations costs. Today, the trend is to optimize best-sourcing focused on value creation vs. only reducing costs.
Is the tide turning on call center offshoring?
DeGregor: It depends on the nature of the task. Back office operations (F&A, etc.) can be largely accomplished offshore. Due to the rise of the social media and Internet-savvy consumer, however, the front-office customer care trend is to an optimized best shore model [that] balances onshore, near shore and offshore across customer segment types, geography, product types, business units and function (Level 1 to KPO).
What evidence is there of this?
DeGregor: A rise in RFPs requiring discussion of HP’s blended models capabilities.
How has the rise of IP-based networks impacted the call center? Customer interactions at large?
DeGregor: IP networks have enabled the creation of the networked contact center, a conversation hub of real-time inputs received from self-service channels that, when integrated into insight-driven actions, drive customer loyalty, satisfaction and revenue metrics to new, previously unattainable levels.
How is the rise of cloud computing impacting how businesses target, engage with, and deliver product/service/support to the customer?
DeGregor: Though cloud solutions are initially thought of as a cost play, cloud infrastructure drives flexibility, adaptability and speed to market for customer-facing interaction solutions. Version upgrades, new application plug-ins and the ability to stay current on the latest customer technologies are directly related to customer loyalty, satisfaction and revenue metrics.
How is the widespread use of social networking technology impacting how businesses target, engage with, and deliver to the customer?
DeGregor: The rapid adoption of social media has shifted the balance of power away from organizations, and toward the customer. In this new era, success can only be achieved by delivering great customer experiences. Social CRM programs, when done properly, can improve communications and engagement with customers, while also helping them to better understand those customers.
What new tools and practices are businesses using to better leverage their own and/or outside data to target, engage with, and deliver to the customer?
DeGregor: Real-time advanced analytics and sentiment analysis capabilities allow businesses to collect structured and unstructured data and form a conceptual and contextual understanding of all enterprise content that can be converted into actionable business rules in self-service and human-assisted channels.
How is the mobile boom impacting how businesses target, engage with, and deliver to the customer?
DeGregor: Today’s buyers are better informed, more demanding and increasingly mobile. Businesses require mobile applications and location-based services that deliver real-time value to end users and a digital content strategy that organizes their content in a way that optimizes the human-assisted engagement interaction.
What other key trends do you see in how businesses target, engage with, and deliver to the customer?
DeGregor: HP’s view is that the contact center of the future is the hub of a complex ecosystem consisting of both self-service and human-assisted touch points, all integrated and optimized with HP infrastructure. HP’s strategy is to provide the end user customer the means to engage our client's touch points in any configuration they desire, suited to their unique 1:1 needs, in a 24x7, mobile, global and cloud-based world. The HP Conversation Hub, powered by HP Live Customer Intelligence, delivers this customer engagement management model to our clients. Our core strategic principle is using complex analytics and big data capabilities, strengthened by our acquisition of Autonomy, to proactively anticipate and route interactions between self-service and human-service channels in an optimized manner using optimization-based analytics.
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