CIM : The force multiplier for customer relationships

CIM should be a required component of any CRM strategy, if the organisation is handle all inquiries and transactions with customers effectively and at an equally high level.

To develop better relationships with customers, businesses must focus on delivering a great customer experience consistently. This can only be achieved if one learns about the customer's unique needs during each interaction, assimilates that knowledge and gives each customer inquiry the best possible resolution at any given time. Communication, therefore, is the key to building a unique customer relationship, both in a business-to-business (B2B) context and in a business-to-consumer (B2C) context.

Traditional customer relationship management (CRM) approaches focus mainly on implementing customer life cycle management. By themselves, though they fail to deliver a single agent view for multi-channel contact centres. On the other hand, more and more customers nowadays use and leverage different communication channels, making it increasingly important for organisations to move away from single-channel call centre based customer services to multi-channel contact centres.

A customer interaction management (CIM) solution should be a required component of any customer relationship management strategy. The principles of customer interaction management dictate that an organisation must handle all the inquiries and transactions with the customers equally, regardless of communication channels. It is important that an organisation keeps a consistent view of the customer through all the interaction channels and the history of each interaction. But even more important is to deliver a common experience across all channels.

CIM solutions go beyond the traditional channels of communications, to new channels like the web, chat, email, self services, wireless, collaboration, voice over internet (VoIP). CIM is the new hybrid of traditional CRM technologies that have been adapted to the internet as well as to the growing number of personal communication devices. They enable companies to add more customer-facing touch points to create a 360-degree interaction capability and enhance customer communication.

CIM enables companies to bridge the gap between customer life cycle events and organisational touch-points, leveraging integrated communication channels with intelligent business logic. They can improve business performance by lowering the overall cost of service delivery, while increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

For an interaction-intensive business process, communication can be assisted or unassisted. Assisted transactions need communication with a human being, while unassisted transactions require no human representing the business to assist customers. It is important that customers are allowed to choose how they want to interact.

Unassisted transactions cost much less than assisted transactions. But not all customers and partners are comfortable with unassisted transactions, so this issue must be handled carefully to avoid eroding relationships. A CIM solution provides capabilities for both.

Email: The e-mail response management (ERM) system must be able to provide automated responses to e-mails, as well as partially automated responses routed to agents for review, processing and reply.