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Want to deliver better customer service? Set up a ‘command centre’ with some flashing lights

5th Nov 2014
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The Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) has been celebrating 20 years in operation through the course of 2014, and in doing so has been gazing into the crystal ball.

At its UK National Contact Centre Conference in London yesterday, CCMA’s key topic focus was what the call centre might look like in 2020, and its importance to future business operations.

It’s a question that many experts are in the process of trying to answer, but while the semantics often vary around potential new appellations, there remains a common agreement that big strategic changes are afoot.

Martin Hill-Wilson, the managing director of Brainfood Consulting and a keynote speaker at the event, suggests that every call centre may require a major shift in design in the near future, and that the driving force for transformation is the growing expectations and demands from customers.

“Our customers really are rapidly changing in terms of what they think is important, and how they expect us to respond,” he stated, in his talk at the event.

“So the question is now regularly being asked: as an organisation, what are we going to do to restructure ourselves to serve that level of expectation?”

Hill-Wilson believes many businesses will have no choice but to place customer journeys at the heart of service, in order to better satisfy the growing complexity of omnichannel engagement. He argues that by doing this, the call centre will have to better align with other business units, and in turn call on social listening and real-time data to satisfy both reactive and proactive sides of the business.

“We’ve got to completely rethink how we involve both customers and the frontline…we built businesses 150 years ago based on specialisation, which we now call silos. The reality is, systemically speaking, there’s a ton of issues with that.

“So this is a big change that has to come from the very top of an organisation. The culture. How do you get over that?”

Flashing lights

Hill-Wilson suggests the idea of a customer hub is a step towards breaking these silos, with more collaboration and richer information at the heart. He gives the example of Gatorade and Salesforce as businesses that have already built their own versions of a “social command centre”, and that in many cases, the actual design was a key ingredient in developing more top-down customer-centricity.

“One of the things you notice about the new style social and customer hubs is they are usually built by marketers and they almost always look cool. Blue lights and big screens that have real-time customer information on display for everyone.

“At first I thought that it was just marketing showing off, but because it’s a physical location that looks cool other people start turning up to look at it, and talk about it with other employees and bosses.

“When was the last time your CEO turned up at your call centre and did anything other than say hello? That’s the effect these types of builds are having. It’s getting every department involved with the customer engagement piece from the top.”

Hill-Wilson gave the example of MasterCard, which recently placed a 40-foot screen in the atrium of its New York headquarters, in order to run real-time data on the business, its customers and its competitors, for all employees to see.

“It’s a fantastic way of focusing the rest of the business on what customer service teams deal with every day – which is their ‘stuff’.

“This whole thing - it starts with monitoring and data analysis...but the exciting thing about this is we’re mostly talking about organising existing competencies. It is a transformational plan, but at the core what we want to do is arrange things in a more effective model.”  

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