Many people seem relieved when they hear that the movement away from the traditional call center is among us. For Denise Parker, it was nothing short of a revelation, who published an article today on Bussiness2Community saying that “the clouds in my head parted, the sun shone through like never before, and I heard tiny angels sing the hallelujah.” So why does the traditional call center need improving in the first place, and what factors are influencing changes happening within the call center industry?
“Many call centers got on the fast lane to efficiency,” Parker says. “Fast isn’t always good [though].” While many organizations are jumping full throttle into speech recognition technology, automated messaging and elaborate call queuing, they remain unknowing of their customer angst and wary. The number one thing to remember is who you are serving – your customers; actual human beings with real needs who sometimes need to experience human voice and logic. And when taking into consideration who you’re working with, you must also understand the environment in which they are living in.
In other words, times they are a-changing (and have been for quite some time now). So get with the program!
“Sure, everyone wants fast responses, but nowadays, most consumers expect to find the answer to generic questions online. So when they do call in the help of the customer support desk, they want to be heard,” Parker insists. “They want to feel that someone is genuinely taking an interest in their problem, and treating them as an individual customer.”
If your call center agents aren’t going to truly listen to your customers, then they are going to flock to social media and search engines like moths to a light – something which you obviously don’t want.
The largest challenge call centers face today is simply that technology is changing the way we communicate. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that now-a-days people turn to text messaging and tweets rather than speaking over the phone – let alone in-person. “If we’re not typing on our smartphones, we’re multi-tasking online. Increasingly more consumers want the option to ‘chat’ online to a customer support representative,” Parker explains.
So if technological consumption is the problem at hand, what’s the solution? It’s more than clear that current call center approaches need to be tweaked –at the very least. Consider implementing an elaborate knowledge base for customers to serve themselves if you receive large volumes of incoming calls. Perhaps you can even implement online chat. Who knows – in a day when the majority of us would rather post something on a Facebook (News - Alert) wall than speak out loud, this could prove quite successful.
Also, Parker says, make customer support a responsibility of marketing, product management, and sales, to create a response plan encompassing all departments. So much is shared over social media today that you may be missing out on prime customer insight by not doing so, which obviously produces a great competitive advantage.
Focusing on customer service ultimately results in better company results, says Parker. Not only this, but you’ll also promote company-wide information sharing if all departments are on the same page by engaging, listening, and responding to customers.
So what does the call center of the future look like? “It looks like a collaborative, social enterprise where real-time conversation occurs internally between employees and externally with customers across multiple channels – phone, email, online chat, customer forums, and social media. And when a customer turns to this organization for support, the clouds will part, the sun will shine through like never before, and tiny angels will sing the hallelujah.”
8x8 (News - Alert) Inc. is a Platinum sponsor of ITEXPO West 2012. To be held Oct. 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations.