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Customer Relationship Management: The Success Factor

Marketers Must Rethink Targeting / Engagement Strategies

Since the emergence of mobile phones in the late 1980s, we have seen a steady increase in their use as the main form of telephone communication. In fact, the results of a recent study conducted by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics* shows that today more than half (51 percent) of Americans age 25-29 live in households with cell phones but no traditional landline telephones -- a first for any age group. In addition, the survey finds that overall, 27 percent of U.S. households have only cell phones in the home. This rapidly growing shift in communications technology has doubled since 2007 (then 14 percent) and increased by 2 percent from the last half of 2009.

This progression has broad effects on the marketing community and specifically how marketers will best reach their consumers. Contact centers especially will need to adapt and understand the change in strategy that it requires in terms of acquisition and multi-channel service.

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With the strict federal (FTC and FCC) guidelines that surround marketing to mobile phones, cold call acquisition has become more difficult, making inbound call conversations increasingly important. As inbound calls continue to become a core point of contact with consumers, up-selling and cross-selling will be a major component to the new contact center service skill set engagement composition. Agents will be asked to act as brand ambassadors and require a broader range of skills than ever before.

Marketing managers are finding that contact centers with well-trained and versatile agents, who handle both inbound and outbound calls, across multiple platforms, are more effective for business and increase productivity. In order to run an effective contact center today, agents must be able to speak with customers in whatever platform the customer chooses. Additionally, many marketers are realizing that utilizing the appropriate channel mix is both a highly-efficient and cost-lowering method of raising customer satisfaction and revenue, because different age groups demand different channels and communications strategies.

For example, baby-boomers - approximately 77 million Americans in total - currently account for 36 percent of the Internet population**. With this strong online presence, contact centers should be hosting both on- and off-line customer service capabilities that include agents trained in senior sensitivity.

By contrast, younger populations often use email, mobile technology and social media as key forms of communication. This population would be better served with a customer service program that has email, mobile and social media capabilities.

Finding the right mix of communications tools to reach consumers is critical for every marketer. Now more than ever, utilizing a teleservices partner that understands cultural trends, trains agents across platforms, and can reach consumers through multiple touch points is the winning element to a campaign's success.

We hope you found this month's Dialogue informative.

* The data for the study was compiled in the National Health Interview Survey, conducted by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. It is based on interviews with members of 17,619 households conducted from January through June 2010.

** Pew Research

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