Avoid the Accidental Contact Center for Sustainable Growth

Every new business is unique. Whether it is the product or service they offer or an innovative office culture, the founding ethos for every start up is that they're offering something that is in some way unavailable elsewhere. That said, at a macro level, most tend to follow a similar trajectory where they develop an offering, secure funding, expand the customer-base, and, ideally, reach sustainable growth. In many cases, that final stage—sustainable growth— is much harder to achieve than anticipated. This is especially true for new businesses that experience early, exponential growth.

This is largely due to the very nature of how businesses are built from the ground up, as entrepreneurs devote the lion's share of resources into product development and internal infrastructure. Other critical elements of long-term success, like customer experience (CX) and customer service, are treated as an after thought. Developing a contact center strategy (the basis for any successful CX) is often put on hold until there's a crisis that deems one necessary. The result? A patchwork contact center strategy as opposed to a planned, calculated contributor to growth.

Avoiding brand stagnation and accidental contact centers requires an early, concerted effort to invest in customer experience. Here are a few tips for new businesses looking to build a CX strategy that works to its fullest potential:

Treat Customer Experience Like A Product

Customer experience has emerged as the leading brand differentiator, exceeding quality of product or service. In fact, research has shown that 80 percent of customers are willing to switch to a competitor after just one poor customer service experience. In the customer experience economy, the margin for error is exceptionally low. If your business finds itself without a customer experience roadmap right out of the gate, you hamstring your ability to meet and exceed customer expectations as they evolve in real time.

Emerging companies need to build out their customer experiences just like they would their product suites. Cultivating a community of customer advocates is a must for early organizational growth, but if potential advocates are unable to resolve their issues quickly and seamlessly through positive contact center interactions, that's a lost opportunity. This means investing in support staff, as well as the technology that powers seamless omnichannel interactions across digital and traditional channels and analytics functionality to inform CX improvements.

Embrace What the Contact Center Can Be

Historically, there's been a mindset among some business leaders that the contact center is simply a cost center, and thus, very little attention is paid to quality of service. It's a mindset that undermines the fact that the contact center is one of the most well-defined interfaces between companies and customers. Many organizations that are just starting out operate entirely online without a physical presence. Building a rapport and establishing meaningful relationships can hinge entirely on your contact center.

A recent change in mentality around the potential of contact centers and customer experience as a whole has propelled a new generation of massively successful businesses. But, if you fall into the trap of viewing the contact center begrudgingly, allocating resources only when the situation calls for it in that moment or in time of crisis, that lack of dedication to CX will trickle down to the customer. If you're not convinced that investing in your contact center should be a priority, consider that on average it can cost a business five timesmore to attract a new customer as opposed to keeping an existing one. The financial value of the contact center goes hand in hand with customer lifetime value./p>

Equate Agility with Sustainability

The last few years have seen several iconic brands close their doors, including Sears and Toys R Us. There's a common theme in their obituaries: They failed to adapt to the digital economy and the rapid-fire speed with which it operates. The bar for customer experience is raised almost daily, which means that businesses of all sizes need the agility to adjust course in real time.

For growing businesses, the contact center is a powerful complement to the company's ability to take advantage of an opportunity as it arises. Consider, for example, customer feedback sourced through the contact center that indicates a desire for a specific function. By proactively integrating that insight into your product strategy, your company can continuously delight and surprise customers to achieve sustainable growth.

Create Exceptional Customer Experiences from the Start

Many new businesses have identified with Mark Zuckerberg's famous mantra for early Facebook, "Move fast and break things." While it has a certain appeal, waiting for issues to arise then reverse-engineering a solution is an impediment to any long-term success strategy, especially when it comes to customer experience and the contact center. Building an early contact center strategy on an open, cloud customer experience platform gives business leaders the insight and infrastructure to ensure that CX is an equal pillar in the overall company direction, otherwise they might find themselves stagnating.

Mark Ungerman is director of product marketing at NICE inContact.