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Holding onto your customers - Are you measuring the true value of the heartbeat of your business - your call centre?

Call centres are a fabulous idea. Everyone is talking about CRM, e-commerce, m-commerce and the new multi-media contact centre to support state-of-the-art technologies. So why are organisations facing so many problems with the call centre concept? Surely, the solution is a simple one! Throw a couple of hundred people in a room and give them a telephone with a headset, a desk, and some CRM software with a high performance PC and tell them to get on with the job!

Coupled with casual attitudes, lack of expertise and the fact that the rapidly growing market in South East Asia is still in its infancy, businesses are facing severe challenges. If management undertake a short-term, call centres will

remain cost centres! The interactive age is here and businesses are developing at a phenomenal pace. In an increasingly competitive market, what gives an organisation the edge over its competitors? With the increase in competition of price and product, the technical differences are becoming less significant. Most businesses today value a loyal customer base and appreciate that a key success factor is to reduce costs and provide exceptional customer service. So, let’s take a look at the call centre’s role in today’s interactive world.

Call centres will always present challenges due to the dynamic nature of the business. Where and how does the customer contact centre fit into your business

strategy? The focus of call centres is shifting dramatically from cost-reduction to profit maximisation.

The competitive edge of the call centre is built on sustaining world class service delivery. It is critical that the call centre should strive to give added value and to achieve high levels of performance, measured not just against their competitors but against the best in the industry. Treating customers as individuals will always provide a competitive edge.

The success of the call centre is dependent on a number of factors. With customer relationships being the key focus we highlight a number of issues which will affect the bottom line. The success of each interaction ultimately will determine the success of a relationship. How can an institution handle these interactions to determine success and profitability? The traditional call centre used to be focused on handling

telephone interactions only. But the interaction today can be in any form; it could be an email message, a phone call, help request from the web page, a chat session, a voice over Internet Protocol to name but a few.

Within the next two years customer contact centres will have changed beyond recognition. Technology is making possible all sorts of processes, which in turn are bringing new pressures to bear on the organisation and its people. Quality is under constant threat as the CRM function expands across multi-channel customer contact centres, corporate websites and mobile communications. So what are some of the issues that make the difference?

Strategy

Obtaining the bigger picture is vital as the success of the contact centre will be dependent on effective management designing and

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implementing a clear strategy and vision.

People

We all know that quality people are fundamental to the success of any business. They are the most important asset of any organisation. Research shows that the biggest challenge for 95% of Call Centres is managing turnover and recruitment. So organisations need to ensure that they are recruiting the right staff with the correct skillsets and values.

Getting the hiring process wrong means that organisations face high recruitment costs and difficulties with staff retention. The results: Poor team morale,

missed targets and damaged customer relationships. A huge and crucial investment I’m sure you’ll agree, but the question is – "are we getting and enabling the return we need on this investment?"

Staff Motivation

Great, once you’ve got the right people how do you keep them keen? When it comes to attracting, keeping and making teams out of talented people, money alone won’t do it! Today’s employees want more than their paycheck.

The difference of a motivated workforce and a demotivated one can mean the difference between success and failure of a brand and the company’s reputation. It is imperative to

ensure that the major underlying components that have an impact on motivation must already be in place before creating and implementing effective incentive schemes and initiatives.

Support & Training

People want and need to learn in different ways and training needs to take this into account. The call centres that survive are the ones that realise that well trained staff are key to managing effective customer relationships. The correct investment to ensure that the right impression is made will increase customer satisfaction and retention. It will also reduce staff attrition and assist with motivation levels of your team.

Evaluation and performance management

While evaluation can be time consuming, it is invaluable to ensure that your business stays on track and that you

are not compromising on quality. Regular performance management initiatives, measurement tracking, monitoring, mystery shopper programmes and coaching all assists towards benchmarking and best practice.

Technology

Technology should enhance your business, not hinder it! CRM is not just about software within a contact centre, it’s about your approach to doing business. How will your company treat customers differently?

True CRM provides your biggest opportunity for success or failure. The sooner your company focuses on customers to listen, learn and respond, the better your chances for remaining competitive and profitable.

Key operational issues and Communications

By defining a strategy, business processes,

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operations management, core competencies, key performance indicators and ensuring that marketing and control of your enterprise. Setting up, implementing and growing a successful operation needs to take into account the successful integration of people, process and technology.

With the South East Asia market growing at a rapid pace more corporates are setting up call centres to enhance their competitive edge. The deregulation of the telecommunications marketplace, banking and insurance and other service-orientated companies are having to address customer service issues. The new millenium is here and it

really is survival of the fittest. KrisTEL’s expertise from Europe combined with its understanding of the local market is enabling organisations to realise the value of their investment. Whether you are investigating a new market sector or just looking to work an existing customer base harder, KrisTEL can provide a quality solution.

Over the next few issues we will be addressing the areas highlighted in greater depth. In the meantime, an incentive to start evaluating and consolidating your strategy is to think about how many customers you are losing to your competitors! What are you going to tell the bean counters, are you going to be a cost-centre or are you going

to effect the bottom line positively and make a profit? You can ensure that your customer contact centre is enabling people, process and technology to deliver world class customer service, and you can make that possibility a reality. After all, your contact centre and CRM is the heartbeat of your business.


Copyright Author:
Amita Krishna
Director of KrisTEL
IT Malaysia January 2001.

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