Insights: Blogs

Dr Mark K. Smith
Dr Mark K. Smith CEO

‘How about letting the systems start to make the comms based on rules made by humans – this way the customer is kept informed – gently, personally, not persistently but accurately’

When we started on the ContactEngine journey we knew we needed to focus down on a simple set of services. The rather interesting challenge we faced was that the problems we could solve were everywhere. But a strapline that says ‘ContactEngine – the solution to all your problems’ sounds daft.

Thing is… ContactEngine gives the ability to enter into automatic dialogue with anyone, anywhere on any digital channel (though we have occasionally even started with a letter….!).

The biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make is to dilute impact by spreading products too widely, as the old saying goes best not be a ‘Jack of all trades and a master of none’.

In the end it was the market that told us where to focus. We were busy communicating to mobile workforces – when it became apparent that actually the optimization needed was not only to the lads and lasses in vans, but more critically to the people they were meeting. If your appointment failure rate was high that’s mostly likely to happen because of poor customer comms. Make the comms better and the failure rate drops. Bingo.

And that’s where we might have left it. We’re the company that ‘make meetings happen’ (another strapline of silliness). But no – we rapidly realized what we’d built was unique for three reasons, 1. Personalization, 2. Multi-channel and 3. Timeliness. The first is easy to explain – best write to John about his Washing Machine at #1 The High Street, in a way that is personal – or the message will be lost in all the other dross. Multi-channel is critical – you should not dictate channels, it isn’t just an SMS, just an e-mail, just an app, or just an instant message – it should be all of those, and you should cycle through the channel until John answers and then use that channel for dialogue. But it’s the last that is so important, so hard to do and yet so unique.

Timing is everything, ask me at the right time and I’ll reply, ask me late and I’ll probably not, ask me ages in the future and I’ll only remember bad things.

And it’s that timeliness that started to see us move across the customer journey away from ‘just’ solving appointments. Perfectly timed comms can make an incoming call not happen (because you proactively let a customer know about a bill, a delivery, an outage or anything else that would prompt them to call you). Perfectly timed comms can help to tip a wavering sales into a ‘yes’ if you get it right and make an offer that is personalized. Perfectly timed comms can encourage a renewal, or reduce a churn.

This is why we are now working with companies across the whole ‘customer lifecycle’ (end to end or E2E if you like) from start to finish – making smart, polite, channel specific communication to customers so that they feel as though they are being looked after and not ever having to ‘call in’ because something went wrong.

This opens up some serious questions about CRM and call centres. Companies have systems that know things about customers, however mostly they present those things to a call centre colleague via a CRM system so they can manage the comms. That’s all a bit intermediate technology, how about letting the systems start to make the comms based on rules made by humans – this way the customer is kept informed – gently, personally, not persistently but accurately – and our client can use the money saved to concentrate on their products and services to make them the best they can be for their happy and well informed customer.

Next blog title mmmmm how’s about ‘The CRM is dead. Long live the CRM’.