Beginning of the contact centre change

COMPUTING

|
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Beginning of the contact centre change

By Karl Reed, Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer at Elingo

A few years ago most consumers would refer to a call centre – a term which reflected the fact that the majority of brand interactions centred around voice calls. Today, thanks to the surge in digital communication across the world, most of us have instinctively switched to contact centre. From Facebook posts to Twitter, SMS, email and fax, the list of possible interaction channels between the brand and customer goes on and on. Contact centre really is the only relevant phrase to use. 

But this is just the beginning of the change. Deeper shifts are occurring within the communication sphere, and many of them are illuminated by our evolving understanding of common industry phrases such as inbound, outbound and, perhaps most importantly, the blended contact centre.

The inbound centre 

An inbound contact centre does exactly what its name suggests – it deals with contact initiated by the consumer or stakeholder. The most significant shift over the last five years in the realm of inbound communication is the proliferation of possible contact channels.

Today's brands have been forced – very suddenly – into opening up methods of communication that not long ago would have been unthinkable. As a result, contact centre technology has become mission critical to handling a veritable flood of inbound communication. Proprietary, hardware-based systems involve significant development work to cope with the addition of new communication channels. Not only is this a time consuming exercise, but it can be logistically complex and very expensive too.  Conversely, single engine communication systems with an open structure are able to scale easily (and quickly) when the brand needs to add or remove contact channels.  

The outbound centre

The word outbound immediately brings to mind those dreaded (to say nothing of illegal, if you haven't specifically asked to receive them) sales calls. But a sale is actually just one function of the outbound contact centre. An additional outbound function is proactive customer service. It has become common cause across the global economy that customers value being proactively updated by the brand they're interacting with, and many organisations now use outbound calls as an important customer service tool across complaints and repairs / service processes.

The oft-hidden ace up the outbound sleeve, however, is the ability to reduce the debtor’s book. Corporations are significantly improving bottom line performance by adding outbound diallers specifically tasked with getting to the front of the customer's payment schedule. Debt write-offs are reduced, and debtor’s days generally come down too. In high volume operations the savings achieved can be staggering, and an account management approach to outbound actually delivers the highest Return On Investment of any contact centre element. Many companies cover the cost of rolling out a new system in a matter of months by taking control of account management with outbound interactions.   

The blended centre

As the name suggests, a blended operation will utilise both inbound and outbound functions. But this isn't actually where the word resonates. Rather, blended refers to how a contact centre chooses to apply its human resources to the mix of inbound and outbound processes.

In well structured contact centres, agents can be used to carry out more than one function. This is often an economically efficient use of the talent within a centre, because it reduces the risk of redundant agent time when contact volumes dip. The key to blended contact centre success is ensuring that the dual functions fall within the agent's general area of activity. An agent making debtors' book calls would more than likely cope very well with incoming account queries, for example. You wouldn't want to ask them to get involved in sales calls, however.

We're not nearly as far behind global trends as we often think we are. In fact, in certain areas we're actually a little ahead of the curve. We lag in terms of certain processes, and in our perpetual bandwidth limitations, but when it comes to inbound contact centres, we are right up there with the world leaders, and in the outbound and blended spheres we are catching up at good pace. 

It's interesting to note that in certain sectors of our economy the idea of a blended contact centre still raises scepticism. This generally occurs when the role players have only experienced systems featuring poor reporting, poor management or poor security functionality. The bottom line, as always, is that the technology must support the desired processes. If you're changing or limiting a business process to cater to the parameters of the system, you're using the wrong technology. 



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE COMPUTING NEWS

Botswana to play part in SKA project

Botswana has confirmed its participation in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Astronomy project.  Read More

Hybrid cloud: the future of enterprise IT

Major enterprises around the world are moving to a hybrid cloud model to benefit from cloud functionality while still maintaining control of key applications and data, says IBM. Read More

SA, Kenya cloud revenues to more than double by 2018

The combined revenues of the cloud computing markets in South Africa and Kenya will more than double to US$288 million in 2018 from US$114.6 million in 2013, says a new report. Read More

Microsoft sponsors DEMO Africa

Microsoft Corporation has taken up platinum sponsorship for this year’s edition of DEMO Africa, to be held later in the month, in Lagos, Nigeria.  Read More

Bank customers kick against ATM charges

Bank customers have faulted the re-introduction of charges on users ATMs in Nigeria, arguing that it is a reflection of the ‘policy somersault’ that has been the hallmark of successive adminstrations in the country. Read More

Pamoja’s cloud service ecosystem taking shape in Africa

Pamoja, a leading cloud services and content aggregation business entity in the SEACOM stable, has entrenched the value of its service in East Africa and officially made this high-growth region its base.  Read More

Seagate ships world's first 8TB hard drives

Seagate Technology has announced it is shipping the world’s first 8TB hard disk drive.  Read More

Myth-busting the cloud for SMEs

There are still a few myths that prevail about the risks and benefits of cloud computing, says Ivan Epstein, co-founder of Softline and CEO of Sage AAMEA. Read More

Sage CRM is Umsinsi Health Care’s engine for growth

Umsinsi Health Care, a distributor of medical products, has enhanced customer service and streamlined its business processes by implementing Sage CRM as its customer relationship management platform.  Read More

Africa risks ‘new digital divide’

According to the WEF Global Information Technology Report 2014, a more solid ICT infrastructure and improving the framework conditions for innovation and entrepreneurship will be crucial to avoid the emergence of a new digital divide in Africa. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoice

FEATURED STORY

MFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmersMFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmers

Ugandan smallholder farmers are benefitting from an ambitious innovative ICT mobile phone initiative that offers weather reports and up-to-date market information about changes in prices for agricultural commodities, thus granting them lucrative returns from their farming ventures. 

IN DEPTH

NIG President speaks his mindNIG President speaks his mind

Bayo Banjo, CEO, Disc Communications and President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) says the proposed licensing of infrastructure companies by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) will breed corruption and entrench monopolistic practices. Kokumo Goodie reports.