Many contact centres are plagued by slow and unreliable computer systems.
In this article, Paul Cooper looks at what is causing this and how we can start to address these problems.
A few weeks ago, I did a webinar on making agents more efficient and empowering them.
The biggest criticisms, suggestions for improvement and efficiency ideas came from just fixing and overcoming the slowness and problems of their system!
Wow! How high tech!
And yet we have been in a modern, highly mechanised business for at least 15 years.
And when I dig deeper, it is worse.
In many organisations still, through legacy, major systems still don’t talk to each other; many processes are manual; even if the system functions most of the time, there are continual crashes, freezes and the like; one can still not get a single view of the customer, especially in the public sector.
Add to this, IVR systems that drive us all mad, websites (both internet and intranet) that freeze, don’t process data properly, aren’t updated and don’t have telephone numbers to complain to when it all goes wrong, and I wonder have we really made any progress in the last 10 years!
So why is it still happening and, in some cases, getting worse?
Well, certainly it is NOT because it has been passed down to the front-line, customer-facing people and they screwed up!
In my opinion, there are 6 main reasons for this.
- It is firstly to do with the fact that these key people in the organisation – those who are customer facing – were never considered important enough in the first place, and therefore were never truly involved.
- Secondly, it’s because they have had to rely on other departments to provide support, especially IT. But don’t let’s leave out other areas like marketing, which keep changing the goalposts.
- Thirdly, it’s because updating and improving systems has not had the priority once a basic system is in place.
- Fourthly, and too often, the work isn’t done to a high enough, or quick enough standard.
- Fifthly, senior management have had their heads in the sand and don’t want to listen to the detail because they don’t understand it and/or don’t get how critical it really is.
- And sixthly, there is still not enough listening to the customer and customer-facing staff, who actually know what’s wrong.
And this last point is a big worry, as these two sets of people are the ones who actually care most. No one wants organisations to do badly, or serve them poorly. Of course, this is tinged with self-interest, but the dangers of not listening to customers may even be greater to an organisation than ignoring its staff.
Back in the bad old days of around 10 years ago, a major issue was that systems, especially CRM systems, were being put in by techies using equipment bought from techies, and who had succeeded in bamboozling boards into paying silly money for systems that didn’t work the way the call centre staff needed them to. (OK, I exaggerate a bit, but not much.)
Then, about 5 years ago, we all started talking about a new revolution where this was seemingly behind us and systems improvements were everywhere, and yes, I remember seeing the improvements whilst judging for various awards.
Well, judging from the comments from that recent webinar, and examples that I seem to trip over frequently, it looks as if, yet again, not a lot has changed since then.
But hang on, you say! Technologies themselves have changed dramatically – we now have cloud computing, speech analytics, much improved intelligent telephone systems, and much, much more, which I know many organisations are already using, or at least considering.
Yes, I do believe in all of these things and believe they are good for pretty much any business. However, before we all go rushing off for ever-newer technology and new toys, this cry from the heart needs to be carefully considered – do your systems need a “back to basics” programme done to get them working to your satisfaction – fast, efficient, error free, reliable, comprehensive, up-to-date, easy-to-use, customer and agent friendly?
If not, it’s time you stopped putting up with it!
With senior management always looking for cost efficiencies, better performance, more sales, and higher levels of customer satisfaction, I can’t think of any area, in many organisations, to be looked at first that could deliver more.
Paul Cooper is a Director at Customer Plus