Required Reading: Cashing in on Contact Centers
A company's call center is often seen as its cost center, a necessary but cumbersome operation. However, with more daily customer interactions than any other department in the organization, the contact center can be an agent of sustained customer loyalty, a point of origin for sales, and a revenue driver. Donna Fluss, principal of DMG Consulting, spoke with CRM
magazine's Colin Beasty about her new book, The Real-Time Contact Center. It outlines strategies, tactics, and technologies for building a profitable service and sales operation in any contact center.
magazine: One of the big themes in the book is how contact centers need to become more proactive and less reactive. Can you elaborate on that?
The contact center is the most real-time organization we've ever had. The amazing thing is, instead of taking advantage of this session with a customer, we fall back on old procedures that are designed to be reactive in nature and not take advantage of the here and now. We need to change our procedures and the way we think. Don't let that customer off the phone until that conflict is resolved and then take it to the next level in real time while you have the customer on the line. We need to change our mindset, change the goals for the contact center, change the training--and we need to change the procedures, then arm the contact center with real-time applications to allow them to execute.
magazine: Why do you think these changes are going to take place?
It's about sales and marketing. Sales and marketing programs are increasingly ineffective. Companies can't afford that anymore. Sales and marketing is beginning to realize that the contact center really does know what the customer wants. They're beginning to knock at the door tentatively, looking for help. The contact center will become a lead generation and profit center. It is almost criminal not to allow, enable, and facilitate the contact center in revenue generation.
magazine: People are looking at the contact center and current business operations and practices--how can a company make this transformation without disrupting what they already have?
That's what the book is about. The book talks about opening the contact center, using the information that customers share by structuring it and analyzing it and taking advantage of it in both real time and offline. Contact centers are one of the most technologically sophisticated organizations in the enterprise. If you're doing things in real time, you have to have a vast amount of technology to support that. The transformation has to be taken very slowly and carefully. A perfect example is performance management. We're going to slowly implement performance management and use it to improve productivity. If you use it right, one of the feeds you're taking is a feed from the sales organization. We're not only looking at how our agents handle the productivity side, but also a revenue picture. With quality assurance, we're going to look at the opportunities, we're going to see what the agents are doing, and we're going to take quality assurance to the next step. We're going to implement speech analytics, we're going to implement real-time analytics. Those changes will happen slowly and carefully. Big Bang may have happened once, but it sure isn't going to happen twice.
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