Part 1 of our 5 part series “Making Your Call Center Relevant”
Since its inception, the call center has been considered a cost center.
This is evidenced by the metrics that have been used in the past to measure success. In fact, the whole purpose for creating the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) was driven by the need to reduce, or at the very least control, costs – unless you believe that waiting in a queue before being served is an advancement in customer service.
Since the emergence of the call center, companies have looked more favorably on projects that showed a clear case for reducing costs. Sure, there are exceptions, but company executives have widely regarded the call center as a cost center.
There is however, a radical transformation occurring in service delivery, and it’s being facilitated by the emergence of new technology. In this five part series, we’re going to explore what may be the most dramatic development in service delivery since the ACD.
1 – By the Numbers
In our first of a five part series, we look at the call center industry, and make sense of its size and breadth. It’s important to know the numbers so that we can better understand the significance of the opportunity that exists.
While information on the volume of call center interactions is scarce, we know – courtesy of the US based ContactBabel report in 2015 (US Contact Centers in 2015: The State of the Industry & Technology Penetration) – that there were about 44,000 call centers in the US staffing over 3.4 million positions as of 2015. Depending on the report you look at, between 2% and 4% of all US employed people work in a call center of some kind.
These are big numbers and that’s a big market.
So why are these numbers important to anyone in the contact center business?
DATA, DATA, DATA and BIG DATA!
There are people employed in these positions and they’re handling billions of calls a year from consumers. For those of you in the back row, the call center is likely to be your Company’s single biggest source of information about your customers – and if your company’s executives aren’t aware of this, then as a call center professional, you have an obligation to point this out to them, over and over!
Further, adding to this opportunity is the emergence of myriad other electronic channels available to your customers to choose from such as email, your web page, web chat, social, smartphone/messenger apps, SMS/MMS and now even video. In fact, in its 2016 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report, Dimension Data is claiming that these alternative channels will have surpassed voice by the end of 2016. Regardless, in both direct and indirect ways, your customers are telling you about themselves, what they want and what you should be doing. They are talking about you to their friends – they’re recommending or dissuading them from doing business with your company…and explaining why!
All this information – the voice of the customer – is accessible for you to mine.
So the answer to making your call center relevant is in the data. Easy, right? Of course not. In the next installment of this series, we’ll discuss why there is no easy button. We’ll explore the challenges and by understanding them, we can arrive at our answer and provide the tools for building a case for making your call center relevant.