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Ensure that you benefit from your investment in technology

Contacts centres will always present huge challenges to those whom are given the responsibility of managing them. It is a recipe for disaster if not managed in the most appropriate fashion.

Filling a room with up to the minute technology may give an organisation the opportunity to boost that they have the best systems in the industry however that alone will still not enable you to retain and gain the loyalty of your customer. Why? Simply because the missing ingredient in this equation is your people.

Technology is making possible all sorts of processes, which in turn are bringing new pressures to bear on the organisation and its people. With these enhanced avenues

the need for greater training and quality control has never been more prevalent. Technology cannot be expected to use itself – your people must feel comfortable with their tools of the trade and the organisation must support them to make sure that the transformation and bond is a successful one.

Firstly, your people must be given the three R’s – Reward, Respect and Recognition. One of the secrets of good customer relations is empowerment in the people working the relationship. If the philosophy of the company is to set guide lines that enticed the staff to make empowered decisions, then the staff will begin to feel part of the decision making process. It must be taken into account that these are the real people

who are talking to your customers - all day and every day and the ones that really know how the customer reacts. Contact agents are more intelligent than some companies give them credit for and it is imperative to utilise this knowledge. Ask your people how they would improve the process and how the customer reacts to the technology they have been presented with. Before investing in further technology, speak to your people and present them with some options on how their lives may be improved by the pending tools.

All too often, call centre advisors are given too little responsibility or no opportunity for flexibility in their roles. As well, this system of agent respect will have positive effects on the bottom line and a forward thinking workforce. Personally, I believe that 30% of the calls received in customer service call centres are created through companies not

dealing with the issue during the first call. It is getting the right balance between free controls and becoming a number cruncher - focusing on service instead of only call lengths will result in improved customer service, call numbers would drop and therefore agents would feel less dissatisfaction and would be motivated to do their job properly.

With a more balanced and happy workforce we can turn our attention to skills training. As mentioned in the previous article the technology on offer to the modern contact centre will develop many forms of direct and interactive communication with your customer. Once again, it will be your agents that fulfil this relationship. It is imperative that you set out a training regime that will enable both your organisation and your contact centre team to benefit from technological advancements. If put in the correct hands, technology can be a motivator, other wise it

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can deter staff for their many functions and result in a loss of return on investment. This positive approach to learning will offer a two fold benefit. Not only will you have a more productive team you will be able to retain a higher number of your staff.

It is also imperative that you set a system of check and balances with your training. It is not just enough to offer and induction programme that covers all the key aspects of the job. Each section of the position must be continuously

revisited to ensure quality control and benchmark for future advancements. Learn for your own experiences with your technology and how your people react to it. The investment in contact centre technology is an enormous expense however to reap its benefits must be coupled with the investment in the people that will be using it. A little thought to leave you with – What if you train your people and they leave…. However, what if you do not train them and they stay…..


Copyright Author:
Amita Krishna
Director of KrisTEL

IT Malaysia January 2001.