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Are You Getting the Information You Need?

Can you imaging trying to fly a passenger plane without having all of the data you need on weather, navigation, or operations?

Collecting the information necessary to effectively interact with and serve your customers is a critical – and often undervalued – activity in the planning process. To many, collecting data sounds mechanical, a humdrum step on the path to bigger and better things. Not so! Truth is, it will take you to distant corners of your organization and into the farthest reaches of the external environment, and it will take all of the awareness, savvy and intuition you can muster.

Consider some of the many factors affecting call center workloads:

  • Marketing activities
  • Growth or decline in customer accounts
  • Changes in customer needs and expectations
  • Changes in products and services
  • Impact of user feedback and social media sites
  • Search engine results
  • Emergence of customer communities
  • Technology changes on the organization’s end (e.g., self-service capabilities, knowledge management tools, etc.)
  • Technology changes on the customer end (e.g., smart phones, social media, broadband)
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Competitor activities
  • Web site revisions (e.g., content, structure, access)
  • New laws and regulations
  • Customer experience levels
  • Agent experience levels
  • Customer relationship initiatives
  • Internal restructuring efforts
  • Quality improvement initiatives
  • Publicity – good and bad, mainstream and viral
  • New suppliers and business partners
  • Cost-cutting or growth initiatives
  • General economic conditions

Here’s the point: Collecting and wisely using the data your customer service operation needs is a fundamental and enabling planning step that must be continually reassessed and improved. Where are you missing important information (or getting it too late), and how could you close the gap by rethinking your team, approach, tools or know-how?

The internal and external envrionments are changing more than ever. Make this aspect of leadership and management a priority in 2011 – good things will follow!