Customer Interaction Hubs Boost Satisfaction

By Geoffrey James

The biggest changes in CRM over the past few years have come from the expanded role customers now play. Today customers can take actions and make choices that once were channeled through their sales rep. Using the power of CRM, customers now are likely to choose the type, amount and channel of information they prefer when interacting with a sales rep’s organization.

Because they’re more in control, customers also are getting pickier. When they interact with a CRM system, they expect a speedy response, speedy transaction processing and super-fast updating of information. In fact, the performance and ease of use of a firm’s system now reflect directly on the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire firm. Woe is the sales team who gives customers access to a clunky CRM system. There’s no better way to signal that your firm doesn’t have its act together!

The challenges can be enormous. According to Gartner, the world’s largest high-tech research firm, the number of interactions between a typical business-to-consumer organization and its customers is growing at a rate of 15% a year, and the number of customer-service-related emails an organization receives is growing at an astounding 20% a year. The number of self-service transactions an organization carries out with its customers is growing 25% per year.

For many sales organizations, providing customers with adequate online CRM means revamping call and contact centers, embracing e-service and self-service and integrating the customer service organization. Unfortunately, traditional customer service systems often are incapable of sustaining this rapid growth while simultaneously revamping their operations to become more customer-centric.

One way to overcome this dilemma is to implement something called a customer interaction hub (CIH). A CIH is a framework – rather than a product for purchase – for customer interaction across sales, service, marketing, field service, logistics and other departments for assisted and unassisted interactions. According to Gartner, a CIH provides a means for bringing the customer service organization closer to the rest of the business, and for managing the increasingly strategic role customer service plays in building better businesses.

“By using a CIH to support assisted and unassisted interactions across all channels you can leverage customer service functionality across other business functions. At the same time, you can maintain a focus on your client and keep up with massive growth,” explains Gartner analyst Esteban Kolsky. To explain how CIH technology works, Gartner has created a series of reports: “How the Customer Interaction Hub Will Improve CRM,” “Plumb the Smart Enterprise Suite for CIH,” “The CIH Will Change How FSPs Do Business,” “A Functional Analysis of a Customer Interaction Hub” and “CIH Migration Is Best-Suited to B2C Businesses.” The reports can be purchased at