Exploring CRM Integrations

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In the modern contact center, call routing and customer relationship management (CRM) go hand-in-hand. The sad truth is that, although they are both integral parts of a successful center, many organizations simply live with these systems functioning in separate, autonomous silos. To address this, we recently released technology to merge our best-in-class call routing platform into standard CRM applications. The inContact Plugin Agent:

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The Challenge of Multi-Application Agent Work Environment

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A few months ago I wrote about the success that some contact centers are having with unifying multiple applications into one space.  In that instance, the organization made a big move to Salesforce.com and condensed more than a dozen systems into one.  The gains they made in efficiency and contact resolution in the contact center were significant.

Unfortunately those types of gains end up out of the reach of many organizations.  There are a few reasons for this:

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Bullseye Cases for TXT/SMS Messages in the Service & Support Center

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There has been a lot of chatter around SMS text messages in the call center, but are we going to use SMS  as the media to resolve service and support issues?  I don’t think this will become mainstream.

But there are two bullseye cases where short messages in the contact center make perfect sense:

The first is case initiation. This is my perfect scenario for that: 

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To Form a More Perfect Integration / or An Integration by Any Other Name

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I’ve always loved language and words.  I especially love to find particularly precise and powerful words  I’ve read countless papers regarding the debate between inalienable and unalienable rights in which  some believe the founding fathers passionately engaged.  This kind of debate is fascinating to me.  I won’t attempt to recreate language theory in this post, but suffice to say that words often act as handles to concepts or objects; and everyone loves a good handle.

I love integrations.  But I hate the word, “integration.”  It can be powerful, but it’s far from precise.  So it’s not a great handle.  It’s too large and attaches to way too many things.  

In an effort to be more precise, I’d like to offer some alternative vocabulary to describe common integrations that we often run into in the contact center:

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Creating a Powerful Call Center

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When customer relationship management (CRM) tools came into the market, they promised businesses clarity and insight into their customers.  What they’ve delivered is terabytes of raw, hard-to-interpret, and un-actionable data. Over time operational CRMs have gotten better, but many businesses are still stuck in the 1990s. They struggle with turning data into information.

Today I read an interesting article written by Colin Shearer in CRM Buyer. He talks about making call centers and CRM systems better by adding predictive analytics. Click here to read the full story.

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Getting it All Into One Place: salesforce.com

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Not too long ago I visited a high value/high touch B2B call center in the automotive industry. Over the past year they've made monumental investments in consolidating all of their old records and data into the same system with their current data and making it accessible by any of their geographically separated divisions.  Here are two of the biggest hurdles they faced:

  1. Getting old records out of their legacy systems
  2. Changing their workflow to the new system

You can guess by the title of this post that the system they chose was salesforce.com, which won on feature coverage and deployability. 

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Why Do We Route Email?

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Alright, I’ve been unsettled about email routing for awhile now.  Here’s my problem with the way I usually see it done.  Wait, I’m ahead of myself.  First let me explain how I usually run into email routing out there in the contact centers:

The email hits the system, we match the need to the agents skill and then route it to the appropriate agent.  At that point, the agent typically creates some sort of artifact in their CRM system such as "create a case" or "generate an order" or a ticket.  Usually they reference the email in that artifact.  Then they create an email response, hopefully reference or attach it to the artifact. Send it off, and we’re done. 

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Where Do Dispositions Live?

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Where does the agent application end, and the CRM begin? 

This question seems pretty straightforward:  The agent application is where I login to the ACD, set my availability, and manage the calls – simple.  I can access reports about agents, calls, and call center metrics.  And the CRM is where I find information about callers and customers, and our interactions with them; I also update and create records in the CRM.  I can access reports about customers, orders, tickets, etc.  Fair enough.

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