The contact center and CRM collision leads to a new dominant species

Some weeks ago I wrote that CRM and contact center are on a collision course. I argued that as the technologies used in CRM and the contact center will naturally mash up, the vendors of these traditionally distinct technologies will collide.

In this post, I will expand upon that idea and talk about the future and a key aspect that will be important to successful synergies: how each domain leverages behaviors.


CRM/contact center collision

The first post argued that a co-mingling of the technologies used in CRM and the contact center worlds have occurred. This has been more of a lending of functionality. Seldom has true synergy emerged.

The example I used is when a CRM desktop may be used by call takers (or in industry lingo, “agents”) as part of the processes of answering incoming telephone calls. In a customer service center, for instance, call control features may be made available to the agent through computer telephony integration (CTI) techniques. In some deployments, automatic retrieval of information about the calling party, using the incoming telephone number (calling party ID, in industry terminology) as a search key, is also be made available.

The evolutionary journey of contact center

This idea emerged as call center technologies were maturing. In the same era, the industry of Contact Management (CM) software came into being. Dominant players in this market came to be companies such as ACT, SageGoldmine (for the accounting professions) and Borland Sidekick. It wasn’t long before the two worlds of CM software and telephony collided.

Here CTI allowed for the trigger of an automatic retrieval of information in the CM software based upon the calling party ID. In these days before client/server and later web technologies when applications could be shared, typically CM software was installed in a single instance on a personal computer. After a rudimentary integration with a telephone, the software could be configured to retrieve information from personal contacts accumulated in the CM software and displayed as a phone call arrived to a “knowledge workers” desktop. An automated “screen-pop” could be configured by the user to display information as the call was answered.

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