Your contact centre could be the best sales team ever

Some business commentators have recently argued that the traditional contact centre is finished. Robots, voice recognition and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are all creating an environment where customers will no longer need to speak to a human when they need help – the robots will be faster and better.

I beg to differ. The technology is getting better no doubt, but I believe the role of the contact centre agent is becoming more important than ever for brands that want to build a better relationship with their customers. With an increasingly complex customer journey, this ability to empathise and connect is more important than ever.


As McKinsey has pointed out in this research, the traditional marketing funnel is finished – not the contact centre. Think about how a traditional customer journey evolved. The customer became aware of a product because of a marketing, or advertising, campaign. They would engage with the sales team, buy the product, and then if they had a question after the purchase they would call the customer service line at a time defined by the company. There was a certainty about how the customer would progress from learning about a product to purchasing it. One step followed another.

This has completely changed, especially for complex purchasing decisions. Think about the last time you needed to purchase a mobile phone. How did you decide on the screen size, resolution, service package, smart options and brand? It’s likely that you talked to friends, family, and other people interested in phones, blogs and journals with reviews, and asked individual brands for information. The Internet is full of reviews and comment on any product you can imagine and if you can’t easily find the information you want then you can ask for help on your social networks.

This vast amount of information and customer feedback has changed how customers become aware of a product. The power of marketing is reduced when customers can source so much information online, but with complex decisions they can be overloaded with information. This is when intelligent, knowledgeable agents equipped with the right tools can make all the difference.

A great contact centre agent can steer a customer to the best choice in the same way that a great in-store sales assistant can guide a customer through a range of options, determining which product or optional add-ons are the best choice. The agent needs to know the product range, but if that knowledge is combined with an ability to serve the customer on the channel they prefer and tools that can guide the process then the customer can be helped through the information overload.

The customer journey has changed forever. Hotels and restaurants now need to engage with Tripadvisor. Hotels need to compete with Airbnb. Banks are competing with new apps offering specific financial services on a daily basis. The way that customers find out about your product or service and reach a purchasing decision has changed for every brand. Customers are overwhelmed with information. Your contact centre can make all the difference by connecting with the customer and guiding them through the noise.

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