Challenges Facing Today’s Consumer Relations Leaders

Protecting your brand, complying with regulations, and improving decision-making are all top priorities for Consumer Relations professionals. That may sound like a lot to take on, but the right technology can support your efforts.

agents listening to manager for call center training specifically customer service skills training

Consumer Relations leaders know it takes years to build a great reputation, but only minutes to tarnish it. That’s why sheltering your brand’s good name from all the things that can go wrong — recalls, regulatory issues, product quality problems — is a crucial part of your job. That’s a lot of responsibility, but the right tools can help.

Brand protection

As the edited-for-TV version of the classic movie Forrest Gump so eloquently puts it, “Stuff happens.”

As Consumer Relations pros, you must always be ready to put out the latest fire. This is where CRM or customer case management software can be valuable: providing an early warning system for potential product recalls and allowing you to quickly configure the system to handle a recall. Additionally, having smarter systems in place can identify urgent situations before consumers call, automatically escalating self-service and social media interactions to a live agent. For example, if a consumer begins a chat interaction on your website and describes the symptoms of an allergic reaction, that consumer can be immediately transferred to someone on your team for follow-up. In your role, you absolutely need the ability to understand and defuse a potentially damaging issue before it becomes a full-blown crisis.

Another way smarter CRM software can protect your brand is by standardizing agent interactions with consumers — without sacrificing authenticity or sounding scripted. The system can guide agents through each interaction, offer suggested actions, allow them to quickly and easily find answers to consumer questions, and automate follow-up. Building more consistency into your agents’ workflow reduces the chances of a consumer having a poor experience or an unresolved issue — the kind of events that lead to negative word of mouth and bad press.

Regulatory compliance

Did you know that the average Fortune 500 company spends one third of its annual profits on lawsuits? Add that to the average amount spent training employees on compliance issues — around $20,000 per employee per year — and you have one expensive problem on your hands. Many companies chalk this up as the cost of doing business, but that’s not entirely accurate.


Many brands struggle with their current CRM systems, which can fail to maintain correct information for agents to use, and to capture what agents say to customers. But more advanced consumer engagement software can provide precise agent guidance, detailed audit trails, and accurate answers to consumer inquiries — reducing costs and mitigating the risk of non-compliance.

Analytics & reporting

When trying to derive insights from your consumer data, there are a few common obstacles:

  • The right data is not being collected in the first place
  • The data has accuracy issues because QA is a manual process
  • The data is difficult to interpret into action

Some CRM systems are configurable enough out-of-the-box to allow you to capture any consumer data point you choose. This data can be used to understand why consumers contact you, how they perceive your products, and what trends are developing within interactions. It’s also wise to combine data sets from different sources to gain a more complete view of the consumer, including social media engagement and self-service interactions. The insights gleaned from a comprehensive consumer data set can help you uncover costly problems, develop stronger brand loyalty, and ultimately increase revenue.

But these decisions are only as good as the accuracy of your consumer data. Most teams are only able to audit 3-5% of their consumer case data to ensure data cleanliness. However, by using an automated QA tool, you can audit 100% of your cases to identify inaccuracies and highlight trends.

Product quality

Although consumers’ impressions of your brand are informed by many different factors, few are as important as your products themselves. Consumers provide a steady stream of feedback on your products, and it’s up to you to capture and use the insights they provide.

For example, sharing trend data on common product complaints with R&D might help them improve future products. Similarly, increased complaints about a particular lot number or manufacturing facility could trigger an alert to investigate further, heading off localized problems before they spread.

How Astute fits in

Astute’s consumer engagement software, Astute Agent, has been the preferred software for Consumer Relations teams for more than 20 years. This smart CRM is a critical component to helping Consumer Relations professionals all over the world achieve their goals.

Brand risk mitigation. Automated alerts for product issues act as an early warning system, heading off potential crises. Astute can also automatically escalate urgent interactions from social media or self-service to an agent who is equipped to handle it. Should a recall become necessary, Astute can be configured to handle it within minutes — without requiring IT resources.

Consistent, reliable responses. Astute’s agent-facing knowledgebase ensures they always have accurate answers for consumer inquiries. The system can be configured to pull in data from approved external sources — making it easier to stay up to date with regulatory changes. Versioning controls keep a record of every response delivered during a specific date range, so as information changes over time, all changes are tracked and available for reference.

Central source of consumer information. Having a single repository of all consumer contacts allows you to have an accurate audit trail of interactions, regardless of communication channel.