Whether you realize it or not, every company has a call center. Yes, even yours.
Think about it. I realize at first glance you might say to yourself, “that’s crazy,” but consider the following: most companies have to answer phones as part of their business. Whether that means a single call is answered every hour, or hundreds of calls answered per hour, every company dedicating resources to this practice in essence has a contact center.
Now that I’ve blown your mind with this truth, what are you going to do about it?
As I write this I am reminded of a specific interaction I deal with at least a couple times a year.
Old School – New School
I’m a Milexial, represented by the span of years between the Gen Xer’s and Millennials. You know, that ill-defined 3-5 year gap between the last generation that works hard and the next generation that feels entitled to everything (I’m getting off topic, and though I have lots to say regarding generational stereotypes – best left for another time). I shared that information for the purpose of getting to my next point - that I love technology. I think it’s great that I can order my pizza online and don’t have to go through the song and dance with the person answering the phone. Some of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about, and others have no idea. Suffice it to say, there was once a time that the only way to order pizza was over the phone.
Customer Service with Extra Cheese
So… a couple times a year I get a hankerin’ for some pizza while I’m driving home from somewhere, and the efficiency of ordering online is no longer convenient. The only viable option is to go old school. I call in my order, drive to the store, walk in for carry out (such an archaic practice), and every time I do I am always amazed at how busy the person at the counter is. I vividly recall how witnessing this strikes me every time. As an expert in efficiency, and now third in line waiting to pay for my order, my mind starts racing about all the things this establishment could be doing differently to make better use their employees’ time, reduce customer wait time, improve customer service, reduce their cost, and boost productivity – 15 minutes later I’m back in the car and all I can think about is PIZZA.
What’s the point in sharing my obvious affection for deliciously sauced, cheesy, baked circle of dough? To say that this company like many others, are not leveraging tools that are readily available to make better business decisions.
What’s the Cost of Efficiency?
If I were to approach the general management of this pizza chain and mention call center software as a revenue generating, efficiency improvement tool, it would likely be immediately dismissed for many of the same reasons most businesses reject it. “We don’t need it, too costly, we already have a phone system”… It’s as if the words “call” and “center” used together form a profanity.
It’s sad to say, but in my years of training efficiency I’ve met a lot of talented people that are just penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to the business practices they choose to implement or reject. Time is truly our most valuable asset, in both our personal and professional lives, yet we are quick to disregard missed opportunities, and fail to study them for insights on avoiding the same mistakes in the future.
I hope this topic has prompted you to start asking some questions. Despite my opening statement about every business having a call center, I realize that dedicating both a system and staff to deal with calls is not the right move for everyone. It should however, be a topic of serious consideration as your business expands or if you find yourself providing less than adequate service by utilizing antiquated methods. So how will you know when your business is ready? The simple answer is when the benefit of having a call center solution outweighs the cost of having one. Simple enough, right? Ha, if it were only that easy. Check back with us next week for more efficiency and cost savings insight.
About the Author
JD is an efficiency expert, consultant and “unofficial wave maker." He fosters the difficult conversations that are necessary to inspire growth in businesses and call centers by subtly reshaping the mindset of traditional business practices.