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Plan, What Plan?

• 90% of executives see Customer Service as crucial to their future business success,

• 70% of senior Customer Service executives said that their company fails to meet their customers’ expectations,-Bain Consulting & ICS.

• 92% of customers form their opinions about a company based on their call center experience – Purdue University.

• 68% will switch brands based on a poor service experience,-Gartner.

• 84% will consider switching brands after two service failures,-Transversal.

• 54% of customers have a lower opinion of a company/brand following a contact with that Company’s’ call center than they had before the interaction.-Transversal.

In most companies the call center is the primary communication channel your organization has with your customers and prospects. As you can see from the statistics above most centers are failing dismally at providing the service that their customers are seeking. The question is why…?

Why can we not create a call center environment where our customers can have their needs meet or exceeded? An environment where the call center generates profits, protects margins and satisfies the customers?

The short answer is we can have this. A number of companies do. It often isn’t easy to get there from here. There are a number of areas which cause a call center to fail to deliver on its mandate. In this article we address just one; the absence or inaccuracy of a Call Center Strategic plan. A call center strategic plan sets out the reason for the call centers’ existence, its role, activities, methodologies, measures as well as costs or contributions.

Most call centers operating today bear very little resemblance to the original call center strategy they were designed and built to fulfill. Many call centers never even have a clear strategy or design plan, they just evolve.

We have all watched, witnessed or heaven forbid even created situations where the answer was “just give that to the call center”, without any regard for the impact on the business already in place there. Every day, somewhere in the world, someone is heaping a new sales program, marketing campaign, new administrative functions or automated billing system into their call center. In my experience this almost never happens with a review and assessment of the implications related to the call centers functionality, budget or impact on the customers served by the center. Inevitably the center loses focus; the center management becomes distracted by trying to satisfy too many masters. The center operating metrics become confused and useless. Training and agent development fall by the wayside as they try to “do more with less”. Of course this “robbing Peter to pay Paul” approach ultimately fails as evidenced through increased staff turnover, erosion of staff morale, declining customer satisfaction and disappointing revenue numbers.

Each of us must remain focused on the reason our call centers exist…to serve our customers. Every time the center is asked to add a new campaign, function or activity we must assess the impact on doing so on our customers, our most valuable asset. Service, margin, loyalty erosion for a few extra dollars is likely a very poor long term trade off.

So constantly review and revise your overall call center strategy. Take the binder off the shelf, blow away the dust and make it a living document. Use it to vet and assess each and every decision made about your call center.

Let us know what you think of this article or any suggestions you have for future issues by email at
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