Neville Doughty, Partnership Director, Contact Centre Panel

The circle of life may be a wheel of fortune, however as the economy gets tougher and disposable incomes reduce, those running sales contact centres cannot afford to leave anything to chance. Running effective sales operations has never been easy and I’m not sure this will change anytime soon. Delivering the buzz of a thriving sales environment can be tough. Costs are increasing; people, heat and light all cost more than they used to. So, when contacting a customer or potential customer, are you making the most of the opportunity?

For those buying data there has always been the question of when to give new agents the good quality data. Do you save the good stuff for when they have learned their craft and making more sales? However, this may risk agents losing heart by working through sub-optimal data and as a result, prolong improvements in competency.

We now live in a time where compliance is a given. It ensures that robust processes in sales and payments are fulfilled in the right way, but I can remember a time when I had more agents going through a validation than I had sat selling on a given day. We had to slow the dialler and then the whole operation became less effective. What I would have given for a machine to listen to the calls as opposed to waiting for a QA to listen through the calls and sign off on the sales.

Optimisation of diallers, best time to call, propensity to answer, propensity to purchase – the variables can feel infinite. The technology that we see now can be applied to ensure that when the phone is answered the agent is in the best possible place to make the sale, through matching on customer knowledge, demographic and buyer behaviour. But then the agent still needs to have all the right information available to them to make the offer and close the sale. We see all manner of ways to deliver this knowledge to them.

Many in contact centres have spent a lifetime talking about quartiles and quintiles and moving performance along a bell-curve. But are you making the right interventions at the best time? Is effort being targeted at the set of agents who will give you the biggest uplift? How good are you at spotting your next rising sales star?  There are an embarrassment of measures and metrics in contact centres but presenting them in one place is easier now than when I was a Team Leader. Agents are able to interrogate their own performance at their desk as opposed to their Team Leader pinning their performance data on a noticeboard.

Operations Managers are now able to see all that data rolled up and see how the Team Leader training interventions are driving performance all there on one screen. The possibilities are great, however it comes back to the culture – do you have the right culture in place to ensure that all these tools are being used effectively?

Challenging times are ahead. If your sales centre isn’t performing at the optimum level, there are plenty of options to drive performance. Some may feel familiar, but it never hurts to see what could be done differently.

Get in touch if you would like to discuss this further.