On their respective sides of the Atlantic, the two companies typified the burgeoning industry that referred to as either “call centres” or “contact centre outsourcing providers”. Depending on one’s point of view, the difference is either academic or semantic. In the beginning, no doubt, the public was more likely to communicate its concerns to a company by telephone than by “snail mail” since doing so guaranteed instant response. Bergevin (2005) suggests that…
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“Before the mid-1970s, airlines and major retailers made use of phone rooms – the precursors to call centers – that were either located in sites spread across the country or kept in large rooms with…phones with many extensions…” (p. 12). With Internet penetration growing steadily, it is now just as convenient for many customers to make their concerns known by email, Instant Messenger chat, filling up comment boxes in the company Web site or blog, or pressing buttons on the telephone keypad in response to a computer-generated script (also called “Interactive Voice Response”or IVR).
Hence, the term “contact centre” to encompass the totality of servicing just about all “points of contact” (Bergevin, op. cit. , p. 17), except, of course, at point of sale or across the front desk in a hotel. Operationally, a contact centre runs a comprehensive suite of services to respond to varying customer requirements. An outsourcing provider typically has the choice of structuring the work teams so that they are either specialized for each of these tasks or required to carry out two or more at any given hour of their work shift:
- Inbound customer service: providing general product information or service help to customers;
- Inbound technical support: helping customers use their product or service and offering troubleshooting advice for technical problems;
- Inbound sales: helping customers make purchase decisions;
- Inbound billing: helping customers with their invoices and providing them with general account information;
- Outbound telemarketing: selling new offerings to customers;
- Outbound service: following up with customers who had inquired or called problems in, providing information, gathering opinions or conducting surveys;
- Inbound and outbound collections: receiving voluntary payments or attempting to pry payments from deadbeats. (Bergevin, 2002) Such multi-tasking or “blending”, as it is called, has the virtue of affording customer service representatives (CSR’s) variety (boredom with day-long repetition of scripts drives turnover sky-high among fairly intelligent CSR’s) while maximizing operating efficiency for contact centre owners.
At the same time, the use of intelligent IT systems that dial out for an agent the moment they detect a slack of just a minute or two in incoming calls means CSR’s are having to cope with a steady stream of work. Every standard contact service provider must respond to two sets of customers. The first are the “business partners” like Canada Life, SEARS or Verizon that want their CRM requirements outsourced. The other customer is, of course, the end-user who needs to contact the company on some concern or other.
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The Contact Centre Outsourcing Industry. (2018, Sep 02). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/the-contact-centre-outsourcing-industry/