Contact Center ManagementHow to succeed in today's dynamic environment

Launched January 2009 Updated March 2010 26 lectures
Ms. Ann Marie Stagg
Contact Center Management Association, UK

The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 and the first call was made on 10 March in that year. It was nearly a hundred years afterwards that the first modern call centres were created. Since that time the telephone has become firmly established throughout the world as... read morea primary communication tool, and the development of e-mail, websites, text messaging and other multimedia communication devices has further advanced our ability to communicate with each other 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This has led to the widespread use of the description ‘contact centre’ rather than ‘call centre’ as handling telephone calls is now just one part of most operations.

Contact centres are not an industry in their own right but have developed across almost all businesses and organizations to become the place where customers can quickly and efficiently conduct transactions with trained, skilled company representatives or obtain needed information from automated sources. The contact centre is a global phenomenon: Datamonitor recently estimated that across the world there are at least seven million agent positions handling billions of calls each year. In the United Kingdom alone there are nearly one million agent positions.

Whether large or small, newly established or of long standing, each contact centre will inevitably face its own, sometimes very distinct, challenges. This could be an industry challenge such as the need to recruit and develop professional managers, it could be a technology problem such as integrating CRM or voice recognition software, it could be an issue of regulatory change such as outbound calling, or a human resource matter such as motivating workers. These changes are increasingly set against a backdrop of industry mega-change, that is, events beyond the control of any one organization. These include technological change, internationalism and globalization, changes in service expectations and the rise of emerging markets.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, for any seminar series, case study, book or other mechanism to address all of the challenges facing contact centres. What this series of seminar style talks therefore sets out to achieve is an examination of the major issues facing contact centres across the world. In doing so, the series aims broadly to do the following things:

• Provide case material and learning resources
• Be an informative source about latest thinking in the contact centre industry
• Stimulate informed debate
• Enhance listener understanding of current contact centre issues
• Illustrate and highlight key concepts in contact centre management
• Provide an insight into the practical challenges facing contact centres

Audience benefits
The talk series is intended to be a leading resource consisting of important concepts and high profile case studies delivered by leading contact centre experts. As such, the editor believes that viewers will derive numerous benefits from it that include:

• Cutting edge analysis of global trends and concepts
• Clear and structured presentation and examination of key issues facing contact centres
• A good balance of theoretical and practical analysis and comment
• An informative and comprehensive resource for those seeking a better understanding of the challenges facing the modern contact centre

The market
The market for a series of talks focusing specifically on the latest thinking in contact centres is potentially huge.

This series will primarily appeal to the line managers and directors of contact centres; however, there are also large numbers of customer service professionals, analysts and vendors to whom it will be of use, and thus it is intended that the series will serve the needs of those with more specific interests. Further enhancing the value of the series, the dissertation process in many business schools has recently witnessed a massive increase in the number of students adopting a customer service focus for their work.

In developing a seminar series that can be used in the academic sector, there are two main aims: first, helping students to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by modern contact centres. Second, the series is intended to raise the profile of contact centres as a focus for academic study. Students are often presented with populist analyses of contact centres and this series will enable students to develop a more critical appreciation of a hugely important business sector.

In addition to the higher education market, there are clear opportunities to grow the market for this kind of series as a practitioner resource. The increase in commercial pressures facing many contact centres allied to the inexorable rise in customer expectations means that practitioners need to have a more detailed understanding of business.