In 2000, I co-researched Branding in the Interaction Center revealing that contact center reps were perceived as unable to define their company brand even in companies with an established brand. Furthermore, most participants indicated they did not have a formal process to communicate brand strategy although expected the contact center to deliver on-message. At the time, I wasn't surprised. The term branding was treated as a buzz word and the impact of branding was just catching on. Add that to the fact that contact centers and marketing departments sometimes operate at cross-purposes or, at the very least, have difficulty keeping each other informed, and I suspected we would be mining a black hole.
Jump forward more than ten years and we read in our industry magazines, e-zines, and blogs that companies entertain questions about where they should functionally house their social media drivers and responders in order to best engage customers who "favorite" the company or rant about their experiences. Creators of our brand personalities witness customers landing in our contact centers for their ultimate brand experience, sometimes accidently and sometimes strategically. Linked-in discussions reveal our desire to integrate messaging at all points of contact, albeit we continue to share our implementation struggles. In forward thinking companies, we even find contact centers with a direct reporting-line to marketing departments in their effort to better capture data insights.
I'm encouraged that with these conversations, we may ensure our representatives are better poised to articulate the voice of our brand through ALL customer channels – phone and email channels AND "tweet and status" channels. Positive customer experience and branding, as proven factors impacting loyalty and revenue, continue to top the list of meeting agendas making funding to prep our frontline as brand deputies a more forthcoming proposition. Branding in the contact center, that is, delivering our service and sales interactions with a clear brand-voice and promise, is no longer an idea ahead of its time, but rather, our call to action. We've learned that merely asking reps to be mindful of our brand does not work. As you read the findings from 2000, consider whether and how your contact center has evolved to ensure you:
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Look. Listen. Be.
"Finally marketing departments everywhere recognize what contact centers have always known – interaction centers should be celebrated as the heart of the brand, not relegated to the sidelines. While yesterday, professionally responding to calls and writing empathetic and effective emails could suffice as the relationship building tools necessary to create customer loyalty, today our contact centers are asked to answer and drive social media feedback and inquiries with brand-savvy."
Look. Listen. Be.