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Don't change the way we worked

I have been implementing call centre solutions since 1997. For establishments with as little as 5 seats to 250 seats. Call Centre solution and technology has come a long way, from just simply answering phone calls to delivering a Customer Service Management System. Infrastructure migration from old analogue lines to digital and now to Voice-over-IP. From customer profile shift from business to users-on-the-road to high technology users of social websites. From local market reach to world wide market expansion. One thing has not changed. My customer (call centre service provider) still wants to answer the call just like before. Inefficient, non-customer-oriented and without sound strategy.

Many customers come to me and said, “I want to improve my customer service, can you provide a solution that does exactly what I am doing now?”. Exactly what they are doing now…. Is exactly what they are doing now serving their customers effectively? They purchased from me a sophisticated call centre solution and insisted no change to their work behaviour. Answering the calls inefficiently and expect the new reports to tell them they are doing allright. And many times, after sitting down with my customer to explain and to provide consult, they will simply sit back and said “actually we are not a call centre operation…”.

My biggest challenge in implementing call centre is not technology, but people’s mind-set and resistance to change. CEOs’ made decision to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and the users screamed, “don’t change the way I work”. And sadly, I often hear the CEO saying “let my users tell you what they want”. More often than not, during project kick off meetings, I have users arguing among themselves who should answer the calls and why they should not be answering the calls. We implement maze-like IVRs with multi-level menus that do nothing but frustrates the caller resulting in lost calls. I even have one customer that request me to design a call centre to reduce the answered calls by 50%! One customer also request that calls to individually assigned agents to stay with that agent even though other agents are available. Resources are not shared and optimised, the call centre reports are just to show who are at fault, and not to facilitate streamlining of call flows to improve workload.

Whenever “Best-Practice” approach is discussed, user will object with reasons like “we are not a call centre”, “we don’t work this way”, “let the users decide” etc. As a consultant, my advice is shooed away. I can see the pitfalls that they are going to walk into… and I have to provide recovery plan at further cost. If only the decision maker trust and follow the consultant advice, I have the experience and knowledge to deliver an effective strategy and methodology for customer relationship management. Implement an effective call centre is never just a installation of pbx or software. Designing a customer relationship management is not about selecting which software to use. Many users just worry about selecting which software. They should be talking to the consultant to understand and know his methodology, track-records and his idea of customer service. With these skill sets, the selected consultant will then design and implement a system that will improve the current situations and address any existing problems. Users do not have the skill-set to determine which software system is good or suitable. I can provide all the software and explain all the features, and users will not be any wiser. The success to effective call centre is not technology, but the skill set of the consultant. How many times I hear people said to me that they know of a shop who was setup a couple of months ago and promise to sell them a software at cheaper price. How many times they end up none the wiser but definitely not a foot nearer to their objective. And they continue to lose customers and income.

Your competitiveness relies on effective customer relationship management. Don’t rely on software not even your staff. They will always say “Don’t change the way we worked”.

By Michael Koh.


Converged Solutions Pte Ltd
Michael Koh
Tel + (65) 6494 8138


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