Posted on 16 July 2013.
By Mark Atterby.
So many market developments and technological advances have impacted the evolution of the contact centre in the last 5 to 10 years. The most important is the shift from focusing on internal performance metrics to managing and improving the customer experience.
From its humble beginnings in the 1980s when it was referred to as a telemarketing centre or call centre to being called a contact centre or customer experience centre, technology and market trends have greatly altered the definition and the role of the contact centre within the modern enterprise.
Regardless of what it’s called, the contact centre is now one of the most important elements of a company’s Customer Experience Management (CEM) strategy. Anita Bowtell, President of the Contact Centre Management Associations comments, ”The evolution of the call centre to contact centre to customer experience centre has been driven by the expectations of consumers, and organisations looking to address the needs of their customers. They are tightly integrated with the enterprise’s sales and marketing objectives, pursuing cross-selling and long-term customer service goals.”
The rise of the modern contact centre
The current definition of a call centre increasingly includes the handling of various types of interactions other than telephone calls. For this reason, most individuals and organisations refer to it as a “contact centre”. The rang of terms used generally reflect the proportion of interactions done through the telephone to those made through other channels such as e-mail or Web chat as well as the nature of those interactions. Bowtell adds, “People may refer to it as the customer service centre or infoline or whatever depending on their use and how they manage it.”
To many organisations a call centre is the most important operation they will let a third party to manage; therefore its efficient and effective operation are a key factor in their own overall success.
Many organisations now entrust the bulk of their customer service, sales and marketing campaigns to third party call centre operators.
Customer Service and Managemnet trends within the contact centre
A customer’s primary touch point is often the call centre, yet somewhere along the way call centre agents became guardians of handle times and hold times. With the ever increasing emphasis on Customer Experience Management, however, there is a growing realisation that the agent is instead the guardian of the relationship between the customer and the company. While in the past, some companies were so obsessed with reducing the time it took to serve the customer, now it is no longer about the call but about the customer.
Despite the ever-changing models and terminologies used, the metrics for call centre and agent performance are substantially still traditional, but the customer profiles are not. Even disregarding the percentage of customer contacts through e-mail or Web chat, the “typical” call centre inquiry changes in nature the moment self-help enters the equation.
With more customers resorting to self-help and solving problems on their own, when they do need to call, they tend to have challenging issues that entry-level agents cannot resolve. Therefore, there is a need for agents adequately trained to do multi-tasking and conflict resolution, or resolution management as CRM practitioners call it. The key shift in the mind set for call centre managers and agents is to optimise the current customer’s call rather than using it to speed to the next one.
For full story please visit http://www.theoutsourcing-guide.com/article/outsourced-contact-centres-focus-on-your-customer/