Watching TV recently, I was struck by the way one bank ended its commercial: When you call us, it said, you get a live person. No phone tree, no delays. A live person. Immediately. The message I got from the commercial was, “We want to hear from you. Unlike the other guys.”
Finally, a sign that businesses are starting to get it: Customers are increasingly frustrated by what happens when they call customer service. But something else is going on here, too. Businesses are recognizing that call center representatives can do more than field complaints and conduct transactions. Properly trained and equipped with the right information, they are also in a great position to generate revenue.
Organizations are realizing that traditional, outbound marketing, particularly via the telephone, offers diminishing returns for the business. That means the future of the customer relationship lies in sustained, informed and tailored customer service. And the call center is a critical factor in this process. In other words, when a customer calls you, you need to take advantage of the opportunity.
Loudhouse Research surveyed decision-makers of large B2B companies in the U.S. and U.K. with in-house call-center operations. They found that 69 percent of respondents viewed their call centers as business-critical revenue generators.
A further 85 percent of respondents saw their call center staff as important brand ambassadors, making their role even more central in developing profitable relationships with customers.
It’s clear that companies understand the potential of call centers to generate revenue. But not everyone has managed to transform them into those profit-reaping departments yet. Indeed, 86 percent of respondents said their call center staff needed a broader range of skills to deliver these revenues and pursue new real-time cross sell and up sell opportunities.
Sixty percent of respondents also cited the need for better integration of inter-departmental customer data so that call center reps have access to the information they need to make relevant offers when a customer calls. In particular, the need to integrate call center data with online customer service was seen as a primary focus for the next 12 months, with 54 percent of decision-makers citing this as a key challenge for the year ahead.
While customers may not expect to be sold to, they do expect their needs to be met at all times. For progressive organizations this represents a chance to build loyalty and revenues at all levels of customer engagement.
Looking ahead, as markets continue to become more competitive, it will be those organizations that use intelligent, company-wide data to fully understand the needs of their customers and to make relevant offers that will ultimately succeed.