The Growing Role of Contact Centers for Consumer Goods Companies: What You Need to Know

AllCloud Blog:
Cloud Insights and Innovation

Talking directly to consumers is new for most consumer goods companies. But as more and more consumer goods companies transition away from selling through retailers and move toward a more B2C model, new needs and challenges are cropping up everywhere. 

Case in point: The need for a contact center.

A Contact Center for Consumer Goods Companies? Hold the Phone

In a traditional, B2B world where consumer goods companies sell to retailers and never engage directly with the end consumer, contact centers aren’t necessary. But we no longer live in that world.

Any company that wants a direct relationship with consumers needs a way for those customers to get in touch with questions, problems, and more. The answer? A contact center.

But what exactly should this contact center look like?

Let’s be clear: There are a lot of highly robust contact center solutions available with a variety of advanced features. These can get complicated, fast – especially for companies just starting out with a contact center. Most consumer goods companies don’t need all those bells and whistles. They’re expensive and make for complicated operations.

Instead, what most consumer goods companies need is a contact center solution that’s easy to stand up and straightforward to operate, all while providing support across channels. Bonus if it includes options for AI too.

What to Look for in a Contact Center for Consumer Goods

So what exactly should a contact center solution for consumer goods companies offer? Consider the following capabilities:

  • Omnichannel support: Today’s consumers move fluidly between channels, and a contact center needs to be able to support each one. Giving customers the option to choose their preference among email, chat, phone, social media, and SMS is a must, as is the ability for agents to move across each channel while maintaining a single view of customer history.
  • Centralized ticketing: To be most effective, support agents will need a unified platform to track and manage all customer inquiries – regardless of the channel on which they originate, as noted above. Centralizing these customer support tickets not only makes it easier for agents to help customers, but it also provides a comprehensive view of support requests and resolutions over time.
  • Knowledge management: A knowledge base offers a spot for standardized, grab-and-go information, such as product details, FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and best practices. Having this information handy makes it easy for agents to provide accurate and consistent support, which can reduce resolution times and improve first-contact resolution rates.
  • Community portals: The ability to create an online community with public-facing content from the knowledge base and opportunities for peer-to-peer support offers customers a self-service option. In turn, this approach can help customers answer their own questions quickly, foster a sense of community, and reduce the workload for support agents.
  • Case management: From returns and replacements to refunds and warranty claims, proper case management allows teams to keep track of what customers need and provide resolutions quickly. Specifically, a solution should make it easy to create, assign, prioritize, and resolve cases.
  • Field service management: Any consumer goods company that needs to offer onsite maintenance will also need field service management. This functionality should allow agents to schedule, dispatch, and manage field service technicians, even coordinating with the team in the field in real-time to track their location and job status and provide customers with accurate arrival times.
  • Analytics and reporting: Understanding performance is essential, which makes analytics and reporting capabilities a must. For example, teams should be able to track metrics like case resolution times, customer satisfaction scores, and agent productivity to understand performance toward goals and SLAs and to identify areas for improvement.

Perhaps most importantly, all of these capabilities should be underpinned by deep customer information that allows agents to provide personalized interactions. For example, agents should be able to easily access any given customer’s purchase history and previous engagements to offer more tailored recommendations and services. Consumers now expect this level of personalization, and when done well, it can help increase customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

But Wait, There’s More: The Growing Role of AI in Contact Centers

Going forward, AI will also play an increasing role in contact centers, making it another important consideration for any consumer goods company looking to stand up (or improve) a support solution.

AI offers lots of opportunities to increase efficiency, improve personalization, and even deliver more proactive support, especially with the rise of generative AI. For example, AI can power chatbots to improve response times and support availability, generate new content for chat responses or knowledge base articles, make personalized product or content recommendations, analyze customer sentiment, and intelligently route customers to the right department based on their needs. 

Of course these examples are just the tip of the iceberg of what AI can do to improve customer support.

Getting Started with a Contact Center in Your Consumer Goods Company

If your consumer goods company is making the move to sell directly to consumers, it’s time to consider standing up a contact center (or optimizing what’s already in place if what you have feels too cumbersome). 

There’s a lot involved in making that happen though, and it’s normal to have questions along the way like: What type of support do we need to offer? And do we need specialized resources to answer questions?

Fortunately, you don’t have to take the journey on your own. AllCloud has a long history of working with consumer goods companies, making us an expert in the industry. Combined with our contact center and customer support expertise, our team has the experience you need to answer these questions and more.

Learn about our Service Cloud Quick Start and contact us to get started.

Chris Zullo

Marketing Cloud Practice Director

Read more posts by Chris Zullo