The CRM Challenge - From Cost to Revenue Call Centre.

by Niels Kjellerup Editor and Senior Partner Resource International. September 25.00

 Its Olympic time in Australia and the past 2 weeks have seen some visionary visitors at our shores, amongst them  Bill Gates Microsoft, Scott McNealy Sun Microsystems & Jack Welch GE (US) all generously offering a perspectives of the IT future.

This article is dedicated to Jack Welch GE who in several speeches and interviews offered the most revolutionary view of how established businesses & current multinationals could gain major competitive advantage by using the Internet to take out 30%  cost of back office customer fulfilment & interaction by opening the companies records to its customers online and allowing customer access to shipping records, invoicing, delivery and order systems.

( You can read Jack Welch's vision for GE  click here or How (Destroy Your Business) became (Grow Your Business) click here ).

The dream of such interactivity between customers and companies is exactly what CRM should be all about, and when Jack Welch says thatís what GE is going to do in the next 18 months then you doubt him at your own peril.

Needless to point out that the Call Centre or Contact Centre role will increase in such an organisation and the relationship skills are going to focus on proactivity rather than responsiveness.

The current trend is to squeeze the life out of Call Centres by focussing on taking cost out. The current major push in the US and in US Multinationals in Australia is to re-locate Call Centres to India to cut wage cost with little or no regard for the relationship skill-factor

 The Functional Integrity Syndrome.

If  Jack Welch CRM-dream is going to work it would mean that organisations such as GE would have to make the transformation from analog to digital (for more on this subject read article CRM & the Call Centre) to take time and cost out of the current organisational structures. 

The key ingredient for organisations will be the breakdown of the functional integrity barriers inside the company, ie no longer will there be a sales, a marketing and a service department defending its turf from intrusions into internal affairs on behalf of customers, instead we will see the processes involving customer interaction integrated into a single department with one manager responsible for maintaining the integrity of the Customer Interaction Processes regardless of channel ( Face to face, Distributor network, Direct Sales, Voice, Internet ).

The key to taking out cost of these processes are closely related to understanding and stamping out functional integrity.

The role of the Call Centre is by many organisations limited to keeping customers at arms length while keeping them satisfied. Little or no authority is delegated along with the responsibility and often the end product is a plastic smile leaving both customers and reps frustrated and increased pressure on the Call Centre to take more calls with fewer people.

CRM empowerment of the Call Centre .

 If CRM or eRM is implemented successfully it means the end of functional integrity. Any trained person would have access to all the customers data with clear guidelines of responsibility and authority and every customer contact would be view as 1) A sales opportunity, 2) a Ďtake time out of the process of doing business with usí opportunity & 3) a completed action surpassing customer expectation at point of entry/contact ( this is key to reducing back office  costs).

The Call Centre will be able to document 1) The added revenue created by the customer interaction & 2) The added savings from taking time and cost out of existing processes,  all enabled by the CRM system integration.

 Thus the Call Centre will finally make the transition from COST-ONLY Centre to Revenue & COST-OUT Centre.


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