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CONTACT CENTRES: Tweets and Trends in the Contact Centre Industry


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Reminiscent of the formal written letter of praise or complaint that was soon eclipsed by the phone call, social media is todayÂ’s essential communication tool and should be at the top of a contact centres priorities list, as it can significantly affect and enhance brand reputation and customer service.

According to Pommie Lutchman, CEO at contact centre solutions provider, Ocular Technologies, the global contact centre market has for many years, up to and including 2009, been stagnating in terms of technology adoption and innovation. Since the beginning of 2010 though, a number of new concepts have evolved within the industry, with the focus shifting from an inward-facing, technology-focused strategy to an outward-facing, customer experience based ideology.

“This is no different in South Africa and many enterprises are now realigning their corporate strategies around the consumer experience. This is mainly due to the phenomenal rise in social networking sites, an online presence and the emergence of Web 2.0 methodologies. In South Africa at present, a number of innovative service- and solution providers are finding ways to integrate this reliance on the consumers online personalities and this can be used very effectively to target a specific audience and/or demographic,” he says.

Social Networking and Contact Centres

In a presentation titled “Social Networking and Call Centres” put together by researchers Connie Crosbie, Rob Reid and Dara Renton, social networking is defined as “a network that is made up of people and links between people. So it’s all about how people can find and contact people that they want to reach through the people that they already know. And that makes it very different from a database. It’s the human connection.”

Showing the strength of this human connection, observer Dave Paulding states on online site, Call Centre Focus, that when someone tweets about bad, or good, service, it is not to one person but to a large number. That comment is out there, many people including potential customers and competitors read it, and it can be searched.

“Social media integration is significant and most certainly the new buzz term for the contact centre industry,” comments Lutchman. “This encompasses the ability for companies, once they have established an online presence through sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In, to monitor any and all traffic, blog entry, complaint or compliment related to their brand, product or service, and proactively manage these on a daily basis. This has insurmountable positive consequences for companies wanting to get the edge over their competitors and has a possible target market in the billions, in terms of number of users, as opposed to the hundreds or thousands from generic websites and print media.”

To stay on trend, corporate business models are therefore evolving form being extremely technology-heavy and cost-focused to being very much in favour of the customer. This model is simpler to plan and implement as the technology and requirements are clear-cut. That is, what is it that our customers want‘

Says Lutchman: “Those enterprises that answer the above question correctly, and base their corporate goals and objectives around the answers, have won half the battle in terms of winning market share. Case in point: Apple Inc. The Cupertino-based pioneers successfully mapped out, planned and implemented their products based on what the answers were to the question above. iPad anyone‘”

Contact Centres and Future Trends

In terms of future trends, Lutchman predicts that a high adoption of newer, simpler technologies that result in higher returns is on the horizon. “Sweating-the-asset has never had such a succinct connotation as it does in today’s post-recession marketplace and vendors that have this unique selling proposition as their business model will come out on top. In conjunction with this, cloud-based computing and hosted contact centres will certainly take a small slice out of the captive market, if the offering is secure and, with due respect to the business process outsourcing industry, managed effectively and efficiently.

“Another trend that may come to fruition, finally, is the emergence of South African based offshoring successes. This is mainly due to the new incentive offered by the Department of Trade and Industry, which promises a 20 percent reduction on costs, as well as substantial, multi-year incentives for companies offering business process outsourcing and offshoring services. It may just be what the industry has needed in order for us to gain market share over the likes of India and the Philippines. I wouldn’t hold my breath though, as this has been attempted before, and has failed dismally. Our only hope is that South African business process outsourcing providers see the benefit of the scheme and utilise it so that contact centres may go out and market South Africa as the next ‘go-to’ destination for business process outsourcing and offshoring services,” concludes Lutchman.

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