Is Your Call Center Out of Date?

Thumbnail image for telephone-rotary.jpgEvery day, I’m sure most of you place a phone call to a call center. You might not even think about it, or know it or even care. Many of the call centers you speak with are probably staffed by very large businesses – telecommunication companies, retailers and others.
Kristyn Emenecker Principal Consultant, Solutions Marketing for Verint, which sells solutions to call centers, told me in a recent interview that 90% of call centers have less than 150 seats. This means that most call centers are owned by smaller businesses. Maybe even you have one for your online retail store or customer service desk.
While you might think that all call centers are fancy operations, Kristyn told me that many smaller call centers use basic Excel spread sheets to track customer phone calls and information and simple tape recorders from Radio Shack or some other source to record phone calls.
Unfortunately many small businesses continue to not leveraging technology to their advantage.
Think about point of sale systems, truck routing tools (check out this WSJ video) and customer service solutions. Often times these critical operations are managed on a manual basis – increasing inefficiency, errors and a reduction in profits.
Call centers are also an area of a business’ operations that are in need of a boost of technology evolution.
Verint‘s new solution, Impact 360 Express has been tailored for smaller businesses.

Its features, such as call recording, quality monitoring, forecasting and scheduling are priced much lower than systems purchased by vary large business. Other than price, is there a need to consider upgrading your call center. Of course.
Let’s take a look at scheduling software for a call center.
Maybe you are using gut instinct to determine how many agents you need on staff during a given time period. Although your intuition and observation are probably very good, having precise data to help you measure how quickly the phone is answered and seeing detailed call volume reports can help in at least two ways.
One – you might find you don’t need as many staff in the call center as you thought (does saving money sound good).
Two – customers you thought were being serviced might not really be serviced to the level they should be.
I think of my friends at M5 Networks who had a restaurant client (I believe) that was able to get a report of all the calls that were NOT getting answered during a certain time period – thus all the potential business they were losing due to not enough telephone lines and staff to answer the phone.
In a similar way, if your call center is a key piece of how customers interact with your company, your business viability over the coming months could depend on making it better.
Although the economy is not doing so well and we are in a recession. Investing in technology that improves customer relations, improves profits and boosts sales is important to consider.
Another point Kristyn shared with me was e-learning. Enabling your call center staff to maximize their free time through training is also something to consider. They could be better trained on the products/services they are on the phone about, or they could be trained for other jobs in the company and moved from the call center to other parts of your business. It’s very hard to find good employees, one of the key complaints small business tell Rob Levin of NY Report, being able to “hire” your own employees is one less HR headache .