If the whole organization is responsible for marketing, what role should the contact center play?


The McKinsey Quarterly just published an article, “We’re all marketers now,” that highlights how the rise of digital channels and the shifting dynamics of customer engagement have extended responsibility for marketing to the entire organization. It’s a great piece featuring insight from executives of top global companies. As the article notes, “At the end of the day, customers no longer separate marketing from the product—it is the product. They don’t separate marketing from their in-store or online experience—it is the experience. In the era of engagement, marketing is the company.”

The authors’ main premise closely parallels a vision Aspect has been advancing for some time: that providing a seamless customer experience will require customer contact to extend throughout the organization. In effect, marketing and customer experience will become so closely entwined that the entire company will be responsible for their execution. As CEO Jim Foy predicted in a recent interview, the traditional contact center will no longer exist in a decade. Instead, the enterprise will need to change and mobilize to keep the customer satisfied.

All of that sounds good, but to get there companies will have to transform the way their organization functions. As the Quarterly notes:

The starting point is a mind-set shift around customer interaction touch points. Companies typically think of them as being “owned” by a given function: for instance, marketing owns brand management; sales owns customer relationships; merchandising or retail operations own the in-store experience. In today’s marketing environment, companies will be better off if they stop viewing customer engagement as a series of discrete interactions and instead think about it as customers do: a set of related interactions that, added together, make up the customer experience. That perspective should stimulate fresh dialogue among members of the senior team about who should design the overall system of touch points to create compelling customer engagement, and who then builds, operates, and renews each touch point consistent with that overall vision. There’s no need to worry about traditional functional or business unit ownership: whoever is best placed to tackle an activity should do so.

Two key components the authors don’t address: how the contact center and collaboration technologies fit into the equation.

I believe the contact center has a huge role to play in executing this new approach. While marketing is tasked with branding, the contact center already supports overall brand value by engaging customers across multiple channels. Similarly, sales owns the customer relationship, but the contact center is an integral element of strengthening that relationship.

A critical element to support this organizational approach to marketing is transparency and collaboration. When the enterprise adopts a unified communications solution, it supports more effective contact center operations as well as providing a platform to share information seamlessly across departments. Contact centers have developed and honed effective strategies and processes over years of experience. Unified communications enables contact centers to bring the company’s best resources to the conversation in a seamless, efficient, and well managed way—in effect, extending the contact center to every function of the enterprise.

And when it comes to ownership of certain activities, the contact center is well placed to manage social media monitoring and engagement. In fact, contact center technology already integrates these functions to allow service agents to respond to customers in their preferred communications channel.

Progressive companies have already grasped the benefits of unified communications. At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer noted that 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have implemented Lync.

But while technology is advancing rapidly, organizations must evolve as well to reap the full benefits—a far more difficult and entrenched challenge.

If your company has already begun to shift to this more holistic approach to marketing, I’d love to hear from you—what’s working as well as the impact it’s had on customer experience.