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January 2009 | Volume 27 / Number 8

Resolutions For 2009

By Brendan Read
Senior Contributing Editor, Customer Interaction Solutions

January is the time when many people, including the fine contributors to this publication make forecasts and predictions for the coming year. Here is a variant of another January tradition; The New Year’s Resolution, with a set of them for the contact center industry.

• For telemarketers, and teleservices firms

— Accept the inevitable: that outbound telemarketing is dying from a fatal blend of overuse and abuse that created the popular do not call (DNC) registries, the switch to wireless, SMS, e-mail, and the Web, and more cocooning, don’t-bug-me, and savvy buyers

— Reassert your role as the customer interactions innovators by anticipating and responding to leading-edge needs, such as identifying product problems before they become calls and lost sales, with superior results-obtaining expert-trained and empowered sales and service representatives

• For lawmakers and regulators

— Avoid in the quest to gain more revenues to balance budgets and to pay for bailouts of bloated and ill-managed industries, squeezing unsubsidized direct marketers—including contact center-using catalogers and direct response firms—and telemarketers with higher fees and taxes

—  hurts will hurt businesses more than it helps by restricting marketing while the latter will hike costs, annoy customers by forcing them to stay on the phones longer, and drive even more calls to self-service, leading to job losses

— Unify U.S. federal and state telemarketing laws. Get rid of the bureaucratic and costly-to- comply-with hodgepodge of state DNC registries, calling hours, and registration requirements. One country, one set of customers, one set of businesses, one set of laws. If you don’t like them, contact your Congressman or U.S. Senator

• For industry suppliers

— Make your solutions more buyer-friendly. Modularize and simplify. Enable contact center customers to mix-and-match, to add to meet needs and budgets. Utilize open source and hosted delivery to add flexibility and cut costs. Don’t lard your wares with features and functionality i.e. ‘bloatware’ that contact centers may not need and which add to costs both directly and in IT time. Don’t make the same fatal errors that U.S. carmakers have done by building and pushing only large solutions at the neglect of other more scalable offerings

— Do address critical needs such as bridging functionality silos. Forrester Research (News - Alert) says there needs to be tools that equally effectively enable customer interactions, aggregate and manage customers’ information, and provide business process automation across departmental tasks

• For contact center decisionmakers

— Get smart when buying solutions. Identify your needs. Do your homework. Factor into the TCOs the resources to train your people how to use and upgrade the hardware and software. There is no point in buying these tools if the staff can’t use them

— Take a closer look at speech rec and chat solutions. There are new solutions that make them more effective and affordable. While they may not have all the bells and whistles they do save money and time while retaining customers

— Play the corporate game in getting resources. Become multilingual i.e. speak the language of business. Align your needs with those of other departments. Too often contact centers get less than what they are seeking or worse get tossed with an inadequate CRM or other ‘chuck money at the problem’ tool because they haven’t adequately communicated their needs

— Go home. Literally. There is no longer any sound reason why contact center services must be provided from corporate-subsidized facilities whose need to commute to shrinks productivity, gums up the roads, kills the air, and drives up taxes and healthcare costs. Home agents continually outperform those in cube farms as well as cost less and stay longer

— Always think of your customers, and your staff, and design your service and employee management programs accordingly. Contact centers are about people. The better you serve and treat them, the greater the chances that they will return the favors through more loyalty that leads to more revenues at less cost with greater happiness and satisfaction all round.

CIS Magazine Table of Contents

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