Call Center Savvy, The Book Reviewed

Call Center Savvy

Keith Dawson

Telecom Books, 1999

Reviewed by Dan Coen

Today’s call center is a living, dynamic strategic business asset, and while the old adage of call center being “cost center”, still has merit in some circles, that notion is rapidly changing.  More and more senior executives are recognizing that the call center has become the communication channel, that one place which reaches out to the marketplace, selling and promoting an organization’s products and services.

Yet, challenges still abound, says Keith Dawson in his book, Call Center Savvy.  (Telecom Books, 1999) From technological options to managing the people, call center executives are facing the challenge of identifying, and implementing, the proper tools to make their call center thrive.  For organizations that are ready to take their call centers into the 21st century, Mr. Dawson creatively provides a terrific road map.  Using examples and analysis, he details what areas call center management need to embrace, and equally important, what aspects they need to shy away from.  He also tackles, head on, the fact that a multitude of options exist, which makes the landscape confusing for even the most seasoned call center executive.

Call Center Savvy successfully achieves its objective of explaining how to take the guessing game out of operating the call center.  Most call center management recognizes that tomorrow’s call center will be infinitely more complicated than yesterdays, therefore Call Center Savvy focuses on three overriding themes that will impact the future:  technology, people and customers.  All three strike at the core of a business’s customer relationship strategy.  Technology provides the channels by which customers and prospects can contact an organization; people ensure the contact is refreshing and positive; and customers, simply put, are the backbone of any dynamite relationship fostered through the call center.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is that it successfully teaches the reader to think about varied management topics in a concise series of 32 essays.  The essays are arranged in sections such as technology, the Internet, operations, the global world environment, and the future, allowing the reader to tackle two or three essays at a time, and then take a break, without losing a beat.

Mr. Dawson emphasizes, continuously, that the call center lives through its ability to promote flexible technology.  In the call center of thirty years ago, technology was the stepchild, but thirty years is a long time, and processes have changed.  From CTI (computer telephony integration), predictive dialers and ACD (automated call distributors) systems, to speech recognition and web-based platforms, the reader is provided with an outline of what it means to operate a call center in today’s technology and people environment.  In particular, these three points from Call Center Savvy standout in defining today’s call center:

  1. Due to the sheer number of small-to-medium-sized call centers, technology solutions are not resulting in high user rates.  Most notably, managers feel overwhelmed in trying to make a decision.  Early adopters lead the way.
  2. As call centers evolve from a simple telephony contact center into a more complex arrangement, the call center is not limited by any one function.  It is the big picture business unit that brands the way customers, prospects and employees view an organization.  Therefore, business practices, such as call monitoring, staffing, management practices and reporting need to be standardized to reduce duplication and to focus on only the most important aspects
  3. Data is king, and every interaction should be customized.  The goals for progressive organizations are to use the call center to compel as many points of interaction between customer and company as applicable.  The call center will be a place to gather as much information as possible about customers and prospects, and people and technology, blended together will make that happen.  “As we add more ways for the CUSTOMER to come in the front door,” Mr. Dawson says, “the CALL CENTER remains the key customer TOUCHPOINT, no longer isolated from the company by technology-or business strategy”.

About Call Center Today

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