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Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

Call centre myths and best practice

By Mark Turner

Principal Consultant Mark Turner challenges some call centre myths.

Earlier this week I read an article in the Metro entitled ‘Call centres like Victorian mills says union candidate’. The title reflects the views of Gerard Coyne, a Unite official in the West Midlands, who is seeking to challenge Len McCluskey as general secretary.

I know that the opinions expressed by My Coyne cannot and do not apply to every call centre. I am lucky enough to work with the UK Call Centre Forum (CCF) and am involved as a judge in their annual awards.

The finalists and award-winning call centres are not just able to eulogise and celebrate increased sales, enhanced service, higher customer retention and lower staff attrition; they also benefit from reduced net operating costs.

Call centres have been with us for 30 or 40 years now and despite the current focus on digital disruption, they are going to remain a constant feature of how organisations deliver service for years to come.

My own view is that the roles in a call centre are going to become more valuable as we progress through a digitally influenced journey involving AI, chatbots and an ever-growing range of communication channels.

I don’t doubt that Mr Coyne has experienced a number of poorly run call centres. But, as someone with an unashamed love of call centres, I can’t help feeling mild agitation when the whole call centre industry is criticised.

To be fair, I should be used to it. There has been a pretty constant stream of negative commentary ever since call centres were first established. The real shame is that the solutions are simple, cost effective and beneficial to all concerned.

Organisations, their customers and their employees all benefit from receiving service from and working in a positively managed call centre.

Running a successful call centre does require a different strategy, skill set and range of metrics to a back office operation, but these can all be easily learned and embedded for everyone’s benefit.

So why do some organisations allow the ‘voice of their business’ to be poorly run, deliver bad service, and at an increased cost? It doesn’t make sense to me.

It would be great therefore if the owners and influencers of these operations were to consistently embrace the wide range of best practice opportunities.

Curium in the News