The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
By Mikael Blaisdell

EngineEstablishing and running an effective customer contact center is a matter of Strategy, Process(/Workflow), People and Technology, and the skills needed to manage these elements within the center, while specialized, are available on the open employment market. Alignment of these elements into a smoothly functioning engine and properly placing it within the overall strategy of the company, however, is a Senior Management role that is unfortunately often missing. In order to get the maximum sustainable profitability benefit from the substantial investment required in order to build and operate the resource, the center has to be clearly defined and understood for what it is: a knowledge inventory and distribution operation.

Efficiency and Profitability

Knowledge is created throughout the company. Customers ask for that knowledge to be distributed to them through various channels. Here’s the key point: some channels are significantly more efficient, and therefore more profitable, than others. It costs the company far less for a customer to get the knowledge they want themselves directly from the website than if they call the center to talk to a support rep. The website is a “one to many” distribution channel, the telephone or chat line is a “one to one” channel.

Knowledge NetworkMost customer contact centers offer four main access channels for the customers: The Phone, the computer Chat line, E-mail and the Website. Each access channel has different costs, advantages and disadvantages associated with it.. The challenge for senior management is to set policies and priorities regarding those access channels to the company’s knowledge inventory to ensure the greatest profitability returns. The phone line still has value, despite its higher costs: You want the customer to call when there’s a better chance for an up-sell or cross-sell from the human contact. While maintaining an attractive website is not cheap, the return on the investment can be huge. The basis for the policy decisions regarding access channel prioritization is profitability.

One of the unfortunate gaps in the contact center technology suite is that while the applications may help center manager to track individual cases through to resolution, those applications fail to enable effective management of the center itself. For that, at the present time, you need to look elsewhere. It can be done; if you’re interested in learning how, give me a call.

May 3, 2007