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

Cloud, Mobility, Big Data to shape North African IT in 2015

The North Africa region will push ahead with IT transformation initiatives throughout the course of 2015, spurred on by growing adoption of '3rd Platform' technologies such as cloud, mobility, and Big Data, says IDC. Read More

One Channel Botswana acquires top technical skills

As part of its future growth strategy, One Channel Botswana has announced that it is acquiring top industry skills.  Read More

Cloud - the perfect weapon for SMEs

Cloud Computing gives smaller companies unprecedented access to enterprise-grade software and infrastructure services – allowing them to grow rapidly and compete with larger, more established competitors, says T-Systems. Read More

AfDB, MasterCard to expand financial inclusion in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and MasterCard have announced a broad collaboration that aims to expand financial inclusion across the African continent by broadening access and usage of digital financial services. Read More

Partnership expands ICT support for Ebola fight in West Africa

Collaboration among NetHope, Facebook, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Cisco, EveryLayer and Inveneo will provide sustainable Internet connectivity solutions to support frontline response efforts and long-term recovery in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Read More

IT hiccups put Botswana varsity in disarray

Botswana’s biggest university, the University of Botswana (UB) has been hamstrung by an IT problem that threatens to throw the institution into disarray. Read More

Soronko Solutions takes Tech Needs Girls programme to deprived regions in Ghana

Over 300 girls in the Upper West region of Ghana will be receiving hands-on education on ICT, thanks to the Soronko Solutions Road show known as the Tech Needs Girls programme.  Read More

Mascom to hand over Kitsong centres

As has become tradition, this year, Mascom will hand over ten Business Communication Centres, popularly known as Kitsong Centres. Read More

Hot five tech trends for 2015

In2IT Technologies South Africa predicts this year’s top five tech trends. Read More

Human interface services revenue to break billion dollar barrier within 5 years

Juniper Research says that by 2019 the global market for services based on gesture and biometric interface technologies will be worth an estimated $1.2 billion. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoiceMicrosoft 4Afrika

FEATURED STORY

UCC launches 2015 ACIA awardsUCC launches 2015 ACIA awards

Uganda has launched the fifth Annual Communications and Innovation Awards, which celebrate and foster ICT innovation and achievement.

IN DEPTH

Kenya’s digital TV battle hots up Kenya’s digital TV battle hots up

Kenya’s journey to Digital TV broadcasting took a new turn this week, when the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) accused three local media firms of intent to disrupt the process.

COMPANY NEWS

Albany CTG, Microsoft, collaborate on School of Government Program

The University at Albany’s Center for Technology in Government (CTG) has announced its collaboration with Microsoft Corporation to deliver executive level training to government leaders in Africa ...