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Gartner says Modernizing CRM Contact Center Will Create Higher Impact and Lower Costs


Early Adopters of New Software Applications Will See Increased Customer Satisfaction, Agent Retention, Competitive Differentiation and Lowered Costs

STAMFORD, Conn., Although critical to success for most enterprises, the customer service contact center is undervalued by most business leaders, according to Gartner Inc. This lack of priority is reflected in underfunding of the customer service function and often results in an enterprise’s failure to remain competitive.

Gartner Executive Programs (EXP) conducted a worldwide survey of 1,527 CIOs in the fourth quarter of 2008 in which CIOs identified their top business priorities for 2009. The survey showed that attracting and retaining customers had dropped from second to fifth place.

“Although still highly placed, customer service is receiving less emphasis than cost cutting,” said Michael Maoz, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Of course cost cutting is essential in the current economic climate, but knowing how to cut costs without damaging the customer experience is critical, and the role of the contact center is crucial to this.”

Customer service, as delivered through the contact center, currently suffers from an overall lack of commitment to the customer service representative (CSR) in the form of tools, training and compensation. Mr. Maoz said that companies need to redouble their efforts in this area and extend the customer Web site, add multiple communications channels, and plan carefully to improve agent performance through the introduction of new technologies.

Gartner predicts that by 2012, managing Web interactions will be a core competency of the contact center, with customers expecting the contact center CSR to know their customers’ Web posts in relevant online communities at the time of a telephone interaction. This will mean that by 2014, it will be an accepted practice in 30 percent of contact centers to have two standard monitors on each agent’s desktop.

“Contact centers present the best chance to favorably impress customers, and yet organizations continue to drive customers away from interactions with people,” said Mr. Maoz. “With better processes and tools to support the system, an organization can demonstrate its competency and its knowledge of the customer’s needs.”

Gartner has identified four key areas that contact centers need to focus on to create a higher impact at lower costs:

Personalized Customer Assistance — In a time of budget freezes, this investment is important because it offers higher revenue and reduced agent churn. Agent attrition is reduced because they have a better feeling of competency and success.

BetterContact CenterApplication Design — Younger CSRs expect a more compelling, responsive and intuitive CRM interface to match the experience with the consumer applications that they take for granted. Gartner predicts that consumer applications will extend to the desktop as well as the Web site to the point that smaller less-formal customer service centers will be able to look at Web 2.0 technologies that enable common technologies (such as Facebook) to be used as the agent desktop, with the necessary telephony components and business information integrated through such “gadgets.”

Integrating Web Interactions/Functionality Into the Contact Center — In a few years, customers will expect an organization to lead them (as required) from self-service on the Web by detecting that they need help, then guide them into an assisted chat session and/or co-browsing session (if necessary), then transfer them into a telephone conversation. At the same time, the organization should be maintaining and transferring the context of each interaction as it evolves.

Speedy, Accurate Service Interactions — With the rise of multichannel and multimodal interactions, Gartner expects most contact center managers to consider either a second monitor for each desktop or a wide (landscape) monitor for better, faster navigation by the CSR.

Additional information is available in the Gartner Spotlight report “The Future of the Contact Center: Service is Key to Customer Strategy" The Spotlight report highlights the findings from nine research reports that examine the future of the contact center. The Spotlight report is available on Gartner’s Web site at

Additional insight into the future of CRM will be discussed at the Gartner CRM Summit being held September 14-16 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Gartner CRM Summit is a comprehensive event focused on how technology enables the marketing, sales, and customer service functions, adding value to the customer experience and delivering higher levels of customer satisfaction while increasing sales & saving money. Additional information is available at Members of the media can register by sending an e-mail to Christy Pettey at

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the indispensable partner to 60,000 clients in 10,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,000 associates, including 1,200 research analysts and consultants in 80 countries. For more information, visit


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