June 14 - 20, 2004

An atmosphere of increasing competition, similar product lines and savvy customers has led companies to new paths of differentiating themselves. Customer service is now a key criterion in choosing a service/solution provider. Service leaders in any sector are raising the bar for every organization by providing instant and highly personalized services through easy to reach contact points or call centers. Customer-centric organizations are developing strategies to deploy support centers using a cost-effective and expandable approach.


A call center is a facility where existing and potential customers contact to get product or services related information, to place order for products and services and to lodge or register complaints and issues. At the call center courteous and friendly service representatives provide instant and highly personalized services.


A call center can play many critical roles in an organization. It can be a:

•Sales support — Provide information and answers, set appointments for the sales force
•Help Desk — To solve issues, register complaints and forward for processing, Loop close
•Marketing Campaigns — To augment promotional campaigns, support product launch
•Information Delivery — Provide announcements, messages and notification delivery
•Customer Support — To maintain customer relation and loyalty by excellent account services


There are many strategic as well as operational benefits of a adequately equipped call center such as proper logging and recording of all aspects of the customer provides ways for quality assurance and performance evaluation, data and call integration enables the service representatives to provide highly personalized services to the customers, detailed and summarized reports that give management an in-depth view of call volumes and trends.


There are several reasons to have an effective call center strategy. First of all the current state of customer services in the corporate world needs a major facelift. There is mounting criticism from both consumers and the public sector. Secondly, customer experiences with an organization shape their demands, so each customer interaction with the company should be of high quality and of a consistent nature. Lastly, the complex nature of corporate operations demand a coordinated, effective and optimized customer service strategy,

Building services that meet and exceed customer expectations must be an important part of the call center's strategy and ongoing development. What differentiates truly great call centers from the rest of the pack? How do you adapt and thrive in today's topsy-turvy economy? How do you deliver strong performance today, while charting a logical course forward? While there are many possible answers to these questions, developing and living by an effective strategy clearly plays a central role. Several factors underscore the need for many call centers to develop more cohesive, effective call center and customer service strategies.


Unfortunately when we mention strategy, many managers conjure up images of an overused buzzword or the last "strategy meeting" that was long on vision and short on how to get there. All the while, many organizations are grappling with everything from new competitors to mergers, reorganizations and shifting corporate priorities. And in the sheer volume of call center workload, vision can get lost or diluted in everyday realities.


One of the most critical factors in the success of a call center is the planning aspect. If the call center is established without proper planning, a roadmap and vision, then the desired results in operations, growth and customer satisfaction cannot be achieved. Therefore, the planner must work out detailed strategy for the following items:

1. Identify the services you will be providing
2. Decide the traffic volumes you want to handle initially
3. What telephone number customer will call to reach your center?
4. Consider human resources requirements, talents, headcount
5. Visit some working call centers to get a feel of the operations
6. Arrange the physical location and infrastructure requirements
7. Consider solution provider on the basis of experience, specialty and references of existing customers
8. Acquire the physical setup of call center, connectivity. Carry out fine tuning and adjustments
9. Launch your call center services by announcing the availability of the call center
10. Advertise your call center access number and educate your callers


It is important to remember, a call center solution is not a box with a part number, it is a combination of the approach, the right technology, tight integration, software development and consulting services, local presence and prompt services after the installation. Therefore, simply ordering global brand-based boxes through an integrator will not necessarily guarantee the success of your mission, unless there are right people behind the solution. Be sure to partner with the industry professionals that have clean track of performance, dedication and commitment.

This article has been compiled by the Research Division at ZRG International (www.zrg.com). ZRG is involved in the development and enhancement of the call center industry in the region. Additional information on the related topics can be obtained by sending an email to info@zrg.com.

ZRG International (www.zrg.com)