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Optimizing the role of an outsourced call center

Experts Don Peppers and Martha Rogers answer a question about the role of the outsourced call center and how it can help build customer equity.

What is the best possible way to optimize the role of an outsourced call center? What more can an outsourced call center do for the company beyond just answering inbound inquiries? How can or does an outsourced center build customer equity?
At some point, human judgment will always have to be accommodated in your customer-facing processes. It's impossible to serve customers well without it, and generally the more important decisions are the ones that require the most judgment. For a customer, the most vital problem or difficult issue will often involve some type of crisis situation – a situation that is likely to be unusual or at least one that you haven't already anticipated. This means that almost by definition, any issue of utmost importance to a customer is likely to be something that "falls through the cracks" if you operate entirely by pre-documented processes and procedures. You won't be able to specify it in advance.

Because of this, nowhere will your corporate culture play a more important role than in dealing with customers, because it often requires conceptual-age, non-routine skills such as empathy, creativity, and sensitivity. You simply cannot anticipate and plan every variation of customer contact. Many companies try to cut costs by call center outsourcing and automating their more routine customer service tasks, but most have to find out the hard way that it's a big mistake to outsource judgment calls. Nor is it the best idea to hardwire all your policies and processes into "the system."


Hear more in Creating Customer Value, a SearchCRM.com monthly podcast series with Peppers and Rogers.
This was last published in October 2007

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