How do I prove my worth to clients?

I run an outsourced call centre operation for clients including charities and blue chip businesses. My business has grown quickly, but keeping standards high is a priority. This is harder to do now as I have more than 40 staff and can no longer oversee all of them. I want to continue to supply a service which is effi cient and that answers callers’ needs. Also, I want to demonstrate to clients how valuable I am to them. Any ideas?

Graham Bunting writes:

This is a frequent worry of fast growth organisations, and the answer is to use technology to support you. I know that sounds a bit glib, but the right technology can underpin your organisation and let you manage your people to focus on the customers that you serve.

It all starts with clarity. What are you setting out to provide in the way of service to customers? What do your customers want and need from you? How do you best provide this service proactively and reactively? For example, it is perhaps a little passé to suggest that all calls are answered within three rings. What is more important is that a caller gets routed to the agent or team member best able to answer their request. The real enemies of customer service are agents who place callers on hold for long periods then transfer them to other agents who repeat the same questions.

Once you have clearly defined the goals and service aims, you can begin to define some variables in your set-up – including affordability. It is very easy to answer every call very quickly and with a well-prepared agent, but your business needs to make a profit. In the call centre, the highest overhead is almost always people. To that end, if you are already using call centre software, you will need to draw on the statistics already gathered to pinpoint your busy periods and patterns of calling.

Using intelligent call-routing and automated services, you can achieve goals such as: preparing the caller to provide ID data or ensure they have the requisite information to complete the call; allowing database searches of customer data ahead of answering the call to ensure agents are well prepared when they receive the call; enable self-service delivery (where appropriate) for simple information provision.

So how do you demonstrate your excellent service to clients? A historical reporting package can capture all the vital statistics – calls lost, average/longest call-wait times, number of transfers etc. Link this to your organisation’s CRM application and it can even produce a picture of the value associated with each customer too.

Your issue of resources is common to most firms, regardless of their business. A well-run call centre, does not need monitoring when all is running smoothly. What is required is an indication that predefi ned service thresholds are being exceeded, which will alert a call centre manager to intervene with appropriate action.

Technology has a key role to play in service support, but it is not a panacea.

.Graham Bunting is UK SMB director at Avaya, a leading communications provider for businesses looking to cut costs and raise productivity and customer satisfaction.


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