While there has been some news of the economy beginning to stabilize, macroeconomic trends are still helping to shape how contact center practice leaders must proceed. Here at the first day of CRM Evolution 2009 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in the heart of Manhattan, Art Hall, manager of customer relations at Alvarez and Marsal explained to attendees how recessionary conditions are influencing contact center strategy.
“Today’s economy is focusing on performance improvement, which means that most companies are not in the green, are not healthy,” Hall said. “Most are sliding are into the yellow, orange, or red categories. Organizations in the yellow and orange — in the revenue slide, are mostly in denial.”
Bearing this in mind, Hall points out three strategies being employed today by companies owning and operating contact center operations:
- rationalizing contact centers, forcing companies to optimize overhead costs as a way to preserve cash that results in an increased demand in outsourcing;
- rethinking technology investments, which Hall says is leading many contact center practitioners to think about software-as-a-service (SaaS)/hosted solutions, unified communications, and social media; and
- improvement in government service levels, as government agencies are expected to provide the same level of service as private sector counterparts.
Speaking specifically about technology investments, Hall stated this may be the last resort for contact center managers trying to get through to c-suite executives who may not necessarily understand the day-to-day challenges they face. “If you’ve squeezed everything from process improvement and making agents more efficient … it’s time to rethink the technology,” he said.
This also means thinking about adding on other channels including social media. If contact centers do go this route, Hall stressed that it must be integrated into the overall multichannel strategy, otherwise it is all for naught. “We should never lose sight of importance of customer and social responsibility of organizations delivering on their value propositions,” he said. “A judicious use of contact center technology, along with a customer-driven approach to training and live-agent empowerment, should result in effective and efficient operations balanced with high customer satisfaction.”
For the contact center managers and supervisors out there, are you finding these same trends affecting your particular centers? If so, how are you trying to tactically address these trends while at the same time continue to — and improve upon — the experience you deliver to end-customers?