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Putting your contact centre as the heartbeat of your organisation

It is without question that the interactive age is here and businesses are developing at a phenomenal pace. However, in such an increasingly competitive market, what gives an organisation the edge over its competitors? Price and product excellence is high on the list of priorities of many senior executives but how to convey these to the customer still remains somewhat of a mystery.

The answer is clear but the road to achieve the desired approach is not always as straight and narrow as expected. Lets take a look behind the scene – "call and contact centers are a fabulous idea"." So why are organisations facing so many problems with the call or contact 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 a high performance PC with CRM software and tell them to get on with the job!

That concept will work fine if neither your agents or customers where people and had expectations that required care management and/or if management wanted to undertake a short-term view and maintain the call centre as a cost centre. Agreed, most businesses today know the value of a loyal customer base and appreciate that exceptional customer service can result in a decreased churn rate. However these casual attitudes, lack of expertise and the fact that the rapidly growing market in South East

Asia is still in its infancy, are creating severe challenges. So, let's take a look at the call centre's role in today's interactive world and staff and training that is required to maintain high a performance organisation.

The traditional call centre used to be focused on handling telephone interactions only. However, the interaction today can be in any form; via 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. Customers are very aware of their options and will increasing want to choose the one that most suits them. The availability of e-commerce, m-commerce and the new multi-media contact centre supported by state-of-the-art technologies can result in a power that your organisation has never fathomed before.

Call centres will always present challenges due to the dynamic nature of the

business and within the next two years customer contact centres will have changed the industry beyond recognition.

This 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 prevelent. Obtaining the bigger picture is vital as the success of the contact centre will be dependent on effective management designing and implementing a clear strategy and vision that both reflects its staff and the customers that they are representing. All this, plus a strategy placed against competitive advantage, profitability and the all-important bottom line.

By defining a strategy, business processes, operations management, core competencies, key performance indicators and ensuring that marketing and

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communications are in place you can gain consolidated control of your enterprise. Just remember - the 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 have to address customer service issues. The new millennium 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 and what is at your disposal to retain or entice them back. 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 should be the heartbeat of your business.

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