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Chapter 2: Call Center Issues vs. Opportunities

Also, fast-growing companies are often unburdened by the past. They are either newer, start-up customer-care centers—or they have in some way (a result of acquisition, for example) taken a fresh approach to knowledge management through call center information automation. Another growing area is that of the outsource service provider, who manage the entire customer service transaction from a remote location, at times from offshore sites. In all cases, the need for a call center assessment remains crucial in the time of change.

Re-engineering the Call Center

The model for reengineering for optimization has most recently been directed toward one of two objectives. Two of the latest keys to success are enhancing customer focus or the use of information technology.

Until recently, however, “know thy customer” was usually easier said than done. Computer technology just wasn’t up to the job: the data existed but were too voluminous, too widely scattered throughout the organization, and too inconsistently recorded for effective use. But now with powerful workstations, client server platforms, extensive networks, specialized software packages and extra-powerful database engines, technology is no longer the problem.

The single most important thing a company can do is to understand the needs of current and prospective customers by proper use of information readily available through their call centers. The laggards will have to do it to survive. The leaders will do it to become even more successful.

A well-implemented call center helps:

  • retain current customers and attract new ones

  • define and track what they value

  • define and meet customer-perceived quality standards

  • listen, then customize products and services

  • anticipate the next hot product as articulated by the callers

  • meet customer expectations by providing quick, accurate answers when

needed by the customer

  • maximize profits in the process

This sounds easy and, indeed, most companies will insist they are customer- focused, but those closest to the customer are the most successful. The good news for consultants is that few companies adequately utilize all existing information technology in their call centers, leaving a great deal of room for improvement.

The objective for improving the call center is often survival and/or growth. In any case, being internally focused will no longer work. Due to cost pressures, more and

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