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Marketing promotions and the call center: Achieving cooperation

Expert Don Peppers gives advice on the call center and marketing departments working together on marketing promotions.

I currently work in a call center of a corporation that sees a large surge in volume of calls when new marketing promotions are launched. We have an agreement that requires the marketing department to inform us of promotion details two weeks in advance so that we have ample time to recruit and train staff and prepare materials.

Could you suggest financial and non-financial violation penalties should the marketing department default on this agreement? Or, is there a better way to go about working with marketing? We don't want to turn away calls that result from these promotions.
This is classic corporate friction, right? The first suggestion I would have is, marketing and the call center, they're on the same side. You guys are on the same side of the battle here. You're allies, not enemies. So, first, check with your supervisors before you think that it was marketing that didn't let you know. It's possible that the marketing department thinks they're letting you know, by advising somebody in the call center organization and the word somehow isn't getting down to you or isn't being translated into the right amount of planning or preparation.

But if you do determine that it really is marketing not letting you know in time for these promotions, then one thing I would suggest is inviting a representative of the marketing department to sit in on your monthly call center staff planning meetings. I assume you have regular staff planning meetings, where you outline the routines and the shift volumes that you expect and so forth? If you do, then invite them to send a rep, and hopefully they'll invite one of you to sit in one on of their marketing planning meetings.

If all else fails and you can't secure cooperation through being nice or being cooperative or being part of the team, one thing you could do to get their attention would be to begin keeping a record of lost opportunities. If call volumes increase in a way that wasn't anticipated because you didn't get an adequate notice of a marketing program that was launched, why don't you just make a note of all the calls that are lost and calls that are assumed lost due to extra hold times, and compute the financial cost of this in terms of lost marketing opportunities. Send a memo off to marketing and copy the marketing people's boss, the sales and marketing VP, advising how much money was lost in this campaign due to insufficient call center staffing because of no advance warning, no preparation.

That's the best I could suggest, but I would only suggest doing that to get somebody's attention. I think the goal here is to come up with a solution that is win-win for you and for marketing, so that marketing gets a bigger bang for its buck and you have a more adequately staffed call center.

Hear more in Creating Customer Value, a SearchCRM.com monthly podcast series with Peppers and Rogers.

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