Recommendations for the Future Call Center Leaders
Being a call center owner is not an easy task. The same relates to switch vendors. In the atmosphere of tough market competition, many telecom companies are no longer willing to be regarded as switch vendors. They work hard to change public perceptions of telecom services. These companies want to be treated as CRM operators. Many telecom companies promote a new public image of being Internet providers or simply contact center systems. These changes in companies’ perceptions reflect the most common trends in the call center industry, where standalone switch systems are no longer the core of quality telecom services. Gone are the times when telecom companies and call centers operated as standalone switch-call systems. Today, these companies view themselves as an essential element of customer relationship management, and each and every customer call is to be processed with due diligence, respect, and professionalism.
Gone are the times when switch vendors worked as pieces of isolated ACD systems, with dumb, difficult-to-upgrade software. Today’s switch vendors run complex futuristic systems of technologies and staff. Telecom companies and call centers not only receive and route calls, but also process, analyze, and manage the information related to these calls. Today’s ACD systems are developed with the goal of improving companies’ relationships with customers and facilitating the integration and upgrade of multiple call center systems/functions. Very often, ACD becomes an object of professional envy, an important source of competitive advantage, and an instrument of organizational decision-making. Look closer at what functions your ACD usually fulfills!
Companies in the core technologies market have fought hard to retain their market share and provide their customers with unique call center solutions. Among them are Avaya, Nortel, Siemens, and Rockwell. Dividing the vendor market into small and large players is no longer valid, because they are equally persistent in their competitive fight. With core technologies in place, small and large vendors have almost equal opportunities to win another share of the call center market.
It should be noted, that selling ACD systems is not as simple as it used to be several years ago. As the number of vendors increases, choosing the most appropriate switch vendor product is getting more problematic. Some vendors and call center technology providers offer identical products, making the purchasing task even more complicated. Nevertheless, ACD sales continue to increase. One of the main factors driving ACD sales is in the dramatic changes occurring in the call center market. Because telecom companies no longer want to be standalone switch vendors, they are looking for the ways to align themselves with the principles of customer relationship management. CIOs in telecom companies, both large and small, are driven by the need to quickly respond to changes in consumer tastes, and ACDs often become the starting point in the implementation of new telecom center strategies.
However, large and small call centers and switch vendors that choose this strategic road should be aware of the difficulties associated with it. Being a customer relationship manager is a huge responsibility for companies. One of the key challenges faced by these companies is managing the chain of information stretching up from call center administrators to CIOs. This is why purchasing ACDs is regarded as a step to improve the topology of call center networking and information management. For many call centers and switch vendors, ACDs represent not a separate purchase but the beginning of a long chain of strategic changes in how they operate. With the growing number of mergers and acquisitions in the call center field, switch vendors willquickly become obsolete.
In the current state of competitiveness, neither reliability nor scalability is the defining feature of business success. Rather, the specific, unique features you offer to your customers matter in how you do your customer relationship business. Under the influence of competition, you, most probably, will have the basic set of features needed to provide customers with outstanding service. Simultaneously, you will need to offer something truly unique, to attract and retain your clients. In today’s call center business, differentiation and value-added activities predispose higher profits and presence in the market. For example, some companies can deal with more than one ACD, whereas others have their configuration and administration managed at one point. No matter whether you consider yourself a call center or a switch vendor, you main goal is to provide your customers with affordable value-added services. No matter how hard you try to differentiate yourself from the competitors, make sure that the services you offer to your clients bring no additional costs on them. Only then you can have a chance to become an important market player.
All this information suggests that, despite the growing ACD sales, they are no longer the key source of competitive advantage for call centers and switch vendors. Companies that wish to become part of other companies’ customer relationship strategies should go beyond ACDs. Alternative interaction and communication modes are becoming more common, and it is essential for call center providers to maintain a reasonable balance of novelty and traditionality in the call center business. In other words, it is high time for those who used to consider themselves as switch vendors to move beyond traditional call center technologies and adopt new, unique value-added features. CIOs should stand at the center of all these activities, as the changes affecting today’s call center industry are too fundamental to be left to call center administrators.