Last week I met up with an old friend I haven’t seen in a couple of years. After the initial banter was out of the way, including families, football and friends, he said he had a question for me.
“My company needs a new Contact Centre, you’re the expert, what do we need?”
Wow, what a question! I told him it very much depends on what you’re doing. Are you taking just calls, or making them too? What about eMail and Web Chat? Do you have any plans for dealing with Social Media? and, and, and ……
Not surpringly, he looked a little worried. When I asked him about multiple locations for his agents he cheered up a little, “I know where my people are,” he said, “but we’re thinking about home workers and part timers.”
We discussed things in some more detail before he admitted that his original question was actually about the location of the Contact Centre, and that the actual mechanics of what they do hadn’t really entered his mind yet.
We talked in detail about the different types of Contact Centre and the differences between Premise Based centres and ones located “up in the cloud”, about Rental and Software as a Service. Interestingly, and not strictly 100% true, we came down to the following decision criteria.
1) Do you want to buy it, or pay a monthly amount?
2) Do you want the solution at one of your offices or at someone else’s premises?
3) Do you want to support and maintain it or would you like someone else to?
Thats it. Simple as. Done deal. Sorted. – well not quite. Each of the three areas above can be serviced by Premise Based or “Cloud” type solutions. The beauty of the solutions available today is that they can be deployed and utilised in just about anyway you wish.
You can buy a Premise Based solution outright, or you can rent it on a monthly or quarterly basis. You could use a service from a remote location, (SaaS) or purchase a solution thats located up in the cloud. You can supply your own telephony and network connectivity, or use a hosted service that provides everything you need. The permutations are endless!
At the end of our conversation he’d decided that he wanted me to come into his offices and carry out a detailed investigation into what they had, what they wanted, what they needed (not always the same) and where to get it from.
I informed him of a few golden rules when getting a new solution (and this is true of most things in life, not just Contact Centres).
1) Shop around. There are many suppliers and they don’t always supply the same things. Also, be sure of what’s being talked versus what’s being sold, sometimes they differ.
2) If someone quotes a price to you before they know what you need, – walk away! How can they sell you something when they don’t know what it is that you require?
3) Less haste, more speed. Companies who move heaven and earth for you to make things happen “super quick” will probably take longer to implement the solution as they didn’t know what you wanted in the first place! It will often not work the way you had envisioned or in a manner that you wanted. If you take a little longer in the early stages defining the requirement, and then in choosing a supplier and partner, the implementation will be smoother, and probably quicker. More importantly, you’ll get what you wanted.
4) Talk to someone who knows ! Discuss the options and take advice. People have done this before, don’t think you’re breaking new ground, you’re not. However, you must not be unduly influenced; after all, a salesman will sell you a widget that enables you to have a contact centre with lots of whistles and bells that you may not really need. A “good” salesman will provide you with the right solution that is capable of expansion in both numbers and features. The “complete sale” may take a number of months to reach your end point. You don’t have to do everything “big bang” style. Phased implementations are often better as everyone gets used to the changes piecemeal and can cope much better.
Many years ago during my training with IBM, I was introduced to a number of concepts and acronyms. They are still helpful to me 30 years later.
FAB. Feature, Advantage, Benefit. Is its not FAB for you, then think very seriously if you need it. It may be a great Feature but if its of no Advantage to you then the Benefits are zero.
KISS. Keep it Simple Stupid. Don’t go “over the top” unless you really need to. There is no need to over complicate matters, life’s to short and difficult as it is, why make it worse?
LESS can sometimes be more. If the salesman doesn’t Listen, Empathise (or Engage), and then Speak Sensibly, walk away and find someone who does. In the long run you gain from a “relationship” rather than a salesman. Don’t get suckered in to buying things you don’t need.
SARAH. Changing your Contact Centre is a huge commitment, it can become scary. Many people around you, and below you, will react with SARAH, Shock, Anger, Reaction, Acceptance, Help (which they will need, – choose a supplier who can help you). A phased approach might be a better option than a Big Bang.
HELP. Probably the best one of all. Ask for it !!
Feel free to contact me and discuss. I’ve turned business away in the past as it wasn’t right for my customer or for my company. Shocking I hear you cry, but I’d rather not have a “bad” or unhappy customer….. and the ones I’ve turned away have always come back at a later date, that’s called trust, and relationships are built on it.
Buy and sell on relationships, trust, experience and knowledge, you won’t go far wrong.
Roy Holmes, Vocalcom
- Previous article : Helping Customers Help Themselves: The Benefits of Self-Service
- Next article : Personalized Customer Service Wins Customer Loyalty