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!

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Cheryl Helm — 1:48PM on Jan 23, 2011

Often when teaching the ICMI ESK course and working with clients in my practice, one of the biggest complaints from the Work Force Management team is that marketing "NEVER" provides them with the information they need to accurately forecast contact volumes. The information that could be provided is priceless for forecasting, scheduling, training, and a multitude of other benefits. Another complaint is that marketing frequently runs campaigns without proper warning to the contact centre. While this may be true, I emphasize to the group that marketing is a key department in the organization to grow the business. They also tend to be very creative in nature and often are off thinking about another way to enhance the business and, therefore, may neglect follow up to other departments. The onus falls on the WFM team to go after that information and furthermore, to demonstrate to marketing the value of the information about customers that is housed within the contact centre. The more we in the contact centre show marketing and other departments what we can offer, the more buy in there can be to share information. Our marketing team will probably have a lot of the information listed above or avenues to quickly gain access to this information. It is vital to create that partnership to improve business and enhance the customer experience.