MANAGING CALL CENTERS IN A SLOWING ECONOMY
July 14 - 20, 2008
Lead generation is also vital in slowing economies, or any economy for that matter. During any type of economy, companies can lose as much as 50 percent of their existing customers simply by natural attrition. This percentage could go even higher in slowing economies. Therefore, common sense dictates that lost business must be replaced by new business. And the only way to obtain new business is to continuously pursue a program of creating qualified sales leads in order to bring in new business.
In a slowing economy, companies are clearly focused on increasing efficiency and maximizing resources in all operational areas. In the contact center, this means automating the right processes to enhance service levels, not hinder them; leveraging automation technology like predictive dialers and voice portals; taking advantage of other applications that can increase first-call resolution.
To be sure, managing any business entity during slowing economies is extremely challenging, to say the least. And managing call centers or CRM centers is no exception. Having said the above, once again, we have decided to conduct a survey of industry leaders to bring you several different perspectives on how to better manage your call center through difficult times. In this editorial, I have provided you with a synopsis of some of the comments that various leading companies have provided us.
As you read what follows, you will notice that a variety of technologies, strategies and methodologies are offered by the leading technology and teleservices providers to help you better manage your contact/CRM centers during a slowing economy.
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
Obviously, it stands to reason that in any economy, customer care and customer service, including customer satisfaction, are paramount requirements for any business. In fact, as I have stated in many of these editorials, "Companies live or die from repeat business and repeat business comes from customer care and customer satisfaction." Therefore, it is vital to make sure that you offer the best possible customer service and customer satisfaction so that you can maintain your present customers.
Customer satisfaction and keeping a watchful eye on the bottom line are no doubt important in both good economic times and bad. Operational expenses seem to undergo extra scrutiny. In the contact center, that often means taking a fresh look at the organization's biggest expense -- the agent population -- whether or not the team is operating at its full potential. After a thorough evaluation of scheduling, service and skill gaps, many organizations turn to automated workforce management (WFM) tools for improving staff scheduling and agent management, from enhancing agent productivity and boosting morale to lowering costs and increasing customer satisfaction. WFM tools offer substantial bottom-line savings.
Self-service with speech is key -- we can serve a customer effectively while minimizing human intervention which is a substantial cost saving and has a rapid return on investment, and increases agent productivity and agent satisfaction. We know that "voice" is king. Getting and maintaining customers is a competitive necessity -- well executed technology like self-service and proactive outbound contact help keep the competitive edge while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
There are two investment areas; the first area involves items that build operational efficiency. The second involves the customer relationship tools that help you build a connection with the consumer over multiple interactions. Since about 55 to 65 percent of a call centers cost is in operations, the first choice should be to make sure you are utilizing operating resources as efficiently as possible. Then, if you have a customer base with which you expect to have a long-term relationship, the real ROI comes from business intelligence and anything that helps you build lasting client connections.
A particularly valuable technology to call centers in a slowing economy is workforce management. It's crucial that when inbound demand slows, call centers are able to quickly and easily adjust staffing requirements by either re-allocating or reducing staff. To maximize the value of WFM, customers should be sure that their system gives them tight integration to their ACD so they can receive accurate and real-time Services thus enabling them to most effectively plan schedules and make changes on-the-fly.
Today, there is a clear shift in contact center operations, with contact centers focusing on first-call resolution as a priority, aiming to reduce costs and maximize agent performance. Studies indicate that, in some situations, 50 percent of calls could have been avoided if correct handled on a first call.
ABOUT ZRG INTERNATIONAL:
According to the Economic Survey, ZRG is recognized as the market leader in the next generation contact center technology with over 16 out of 22 banking contact centers, 3 out of 6 cellular customer service contact centers along with customer service centers of leading brands in the country such as Mobilink GSM, PSO, EFU Life Assurance, TCS Courier, Maersk Shipping, MultiNet, WorldCALL Broadband, and many others. ZRG is the first company from Pakistan that started exporting advanced contact center technology solutions to the international market (Dubai, Tanzania). Our successful deployment of advanced call center has been profiled by Intel Corporation, USA that has placed a ZRG solution as a success story on Intel's web site (ref URL: http://www.intel.com/network/csp/pdf/8853cs.pdf).
ZRG solutions are deployed in majority of contact centers in the country, and are in use by millions of users that use self-service applications in addition to the contact center agent services.
"State of the art call center from ZRG will enable us to provide highly personalized and prompt services to our valued customers 24 hours a day. With call center management tools such as the voice recording capabilities and online performance monitoring, , we will be able to monitor and improve quality of service and productivity of our staff.
(The author is Assistant Manager Marketing at ZRG International. Additional information on this topic can be requested by sending an e-mail to email@example.com)
SA TRADE FORMS GLOBAL 1.2% EXPORTS, 1.4% IMPORTS
LAHORE: The intra-regional trade figures for South Asian are disappointing as trade in the region constitutes only 1.4 per cent of the total world imports and 1.2 per cent of exports whereas merchandise trade has been only 27.9 per cent of GDP, the lowest in the world.
World Development Indicators revealed South Asia houses 1.4 billion world's population thus representing a large workforce and tremendous business and investment opportunities. In addition, this area is rich in natural resources, which if properly used can make South Asia a hub of business activities.
Although, South Asia has significantly reduced import tariffs, but the cost of trading across its borders is one of the highest in the world. A number of non-tariff barriers have been identified hampering trade and increasing cost of business.
Pakistani leading businessmen including Faraz Shafiq Alam, Iftikhar Ali Malik, Azhar Syed Butt and others said that efforts need to be made to accelerate the process of economic and social development among the South Asian countries. They said that SCCI was established in 1985 with a main agenda to promote regional and economic co-operation in South Asia, however, political tensions and development constraints that the region has faced over the years has played a decelerating role in economic integration of South Asia.
SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement) will also be made more effective to revive economic co-operation for free trade in the region. They said all out efforts must be made to help build confidence among the business communities of both Pakistan and India, the two largest economies in the region.
Iftikhar Ali Malik said that Pak private sector of all member countries under the dynamic leadership of President SAARC CCI Tariq Sayeed will help remove constraints of doing business, visa regime and improve communication links, transpiration of goods and infrastructure, banking facilities and insurance, customs and harmonization of standards, non-tariff barriers on goods.