Surprising Reality of What Truly Keeps Call Center Leaders Up at Night



Brian Cantor
05/08/2012

As the call center continues to evolve, your team will naturally explore innovative solutions and strategies for satisfying customers. This is IMPORTANT, but it also comes with many risks. Find out how to properly balance your call center focuses as customer experience challenges continue to mount in this COMPLIMENTARY CallcenterIQ webinar.

No one, by any stretch of the imagination, is suggesting that the traditional call center is nearing extinction. It remains a preferred communication and resolution channel for many customers and businesses, and its volume of interactions still greatly eclipses those generated across "new media."

By the same token, so little customer management dialogue portrays the traditional, voice-based call center as buzzworthy topic in and of itself. In fact, many find it improper to even use the term "call center" and instead favor "contact center" as a term more apropos for the multiple channels customers now have of reaching representative agents.

In short, with topics like social media and customer experience design dominating a significant chunk of the conversation, it almost seems that call center leaders are being asked to draw their attention away from the call center. It is as if we want our call center leaders to say, "Well, we gave it our all" and move on, even though so much of customer-facing business is still executed through the traditional telephone support channel.

Following the very well-received 7thAnnual Call Centre Week Canada in Toronto, ON, Call Center IQ is in the process of developing an exclusive, in-depth benchmarking report for its members. With real insights from VP-level call center professionals, this piece will take a deep dive into what keeps call centers leaders "awake at night" and what investments, strategies and solutions sit atop the priority list.

As a precursor to that report, CCIQ has highlighted the concerns that our audience of attending executives deemed most relevant to future success in call center management.

The selections, all products of a strategic brainstorming discussion held during the workshop with customer management consultants and coaches Dolly Konzelmann and Corey Atkinson, will undoubtedly resonate with those who spend their days and nights focusing on call center management.

But for those firmly focused on the post-mortem excitement associated with life beyond the traditional call center, the reality of executive priorities will likely be quite surprising. Though aware and focused on the future of customer management and the means in which customer interactions will evolve, call center professionals, by and large, remain committed to improving the efficiency, productivity and customer-centricity of their call centers, which will remain the preeminent service channel for the foreseeable future.

Priority concerns include:

Costs & Revenue Generation: Overplayed customer management topic or not, call center executives have most certainly not eased in their efforts to drive legitimate business value from their call centers. The identification and execution of strategies for minimizing call costs while establishing more opportunities for upsells, cross-sells and other preemptive revenue generation within the call center continues to shape the way leaders approach their messaging, staffs and operations.

Moreover, the mere idea of call center budgeting continues to reign as a supreme concern for many managers, directors and vice presidents. With news outlets and commentators placing so much emphasis on hot new trends, people forget how important it is to understand the pivotal management elements that make things go.

Attendance: Efforts to reduce tardiness and absenteeism remain a core priority for call center leaders, who notoriously struggle with a disengaged workforce. Among the executives in attendance, a brainstorming session about incentivizing and monitoring agent attendance and productivity drew as much intrigue as any topic.

Employee Engagement: While attendance itself emerged as a key priority, a broader flavor of big picture focus centers on employee engagement. With so many foretelling doom as it relates to the rise of Generation Y, leaders are looking for new ways to keep employees dialed into the organization. The call center might not represent the most attractive career option for everyone hired as an agent, but the notion of achieving customer satisfaction must be met with a warm reception from those entrusted to man the phones.

Technology: Technology is not just about the latest social media or self-service platforms; it also represents a huge priority for those trying to improve the functionality of their call centers. From sourcing the correct IVR systems to properly implementing a telephony or workforce management system, call center leaders remain immensely concerned about how technology can improve or undermine their call centers.

Call Center’s Role Within the Greater Organization: Though call center leaders are not losing sight of "best practices" for improving processes and efficiencies within their actual call centers, they are still mindful of the evolving role the call center plays within the greater organization. They know that the "voice of the customer" must resonate at all levels of the business, and they know that they will continue to help reconcile the disparity between the business’ vision for excellence and the customer’s perception of excellence. Determining ways to remove organizational stagnation, inertia and customer-uncentricity through collaboration and effective posturing is indeed a chief concern.

Call Center IQ’s upcoming benchmarking report will highlight a number of additional concerns driving activity among today’s call center leaders. Members should keep an eye out for their opportunity to access that report.

In the meantime, check out our upcoming call center webinar "Balancing Innovation & Quality in the Evolving Call Center Landscape."