If there is any one aspect of modern customer
value management that telcos have a lot of experience with, it is call centers and
call center management. After all, telecommunications companies invented the concept
and were the first business to make extensive use of the capabilities.
The call center of today, however, is very different from that of even
just a few years ago. These telephone centers have been undergoing a metamorphosis
of tremendous proportion as new technologies, new business philosophies, and new
customer demands have found relief in the professionalization of call center functionality.
It's Not Just About Answering Phones Anymore
Perhaps the most obvious change to the call center has been the rapid
expansion in the available tools. In the past, call centers were strictly about
answering the phone and responding to customers. The call center was a decidedly
reactive, passive, and responsive unit and was considered an overhead activity to
be minimized wherever and however possible.
More Than Just Telephones
Call center personnel are expected to do much more than simply answer
phones. The repertoire of the typical call center rep also includes:
Manage outbound phone activities (sales, canvassing, and proactive customer
Manage email and Website traffic
Interactive chat help desks
Respond to and respond with fax
Manage and integrate voice recognition, interactive voice response, and
many other new efficiency enhancement tools
More Than Just Inbound
Even more dramatic than the toolset expansion is the greatly increased
responsibility. The call center is fast becoming the low-cost, best option for maximizing
customer value in a variety of situations. Call centers are now regularly expected
to function as:
Order entry and activation points
Customer service call contact points
Technical support personnel for a wide range of problems, from how to
program the cell phone ring-tone to how to set the configuration for a fiber optic
Billing and collections
Proactive customer service
Aggressive outbound phone campaigns
Market research centers
Sales program information clearing points
The New Breed of Professional Call Center Reps
With all of this new technology
and new responsibility has come the need for an entirely new breed of professional
call center reps. These reps must be highly trained, experienced, motivated, and
able to deal with a lot of pressure in order to meet the demands of this new environment.
These new professionals are in need of a new generation of support tools.
The New Breed of Professional Call Center Managers
The new ranks of call center reps must, obviously, be supported by a
new breed of professional call center managers who know how to keep track of complex
technological conditions, chaotic call load balancing, as well as a whole new set
of difficult to manage deliverables in the areas of customer satisfaction, sales
values, promotional penetration, and scores of other calibrations.