Besides communicating with customers, data collection is also a big focus of call centers. Some of the latest technologies address ad tracking and lead-management effectiveness reporting. You can now tell exactly which ad campaigns are driving phone calls, leads, reservations and rentals. With all the various marketing platforms available to businesses in 2012, this function takes on huge importance.
Sales-performance tracking has also risen to new levels. Where previously one could evaluate a call-center agent’s performance only in general terms, we can now track performance by campaign, type of call and many other variations. This helps a great deal in evaluating sales strengths and weaknesses. Helping call-center reps improve performance metrics drives revenue increases like few other activities can.
All this data collection means better business intelligence is available far more quickly than ever. Collecting business intelligence from call and transaction history enables better short- and long-term planning. Where many businesses formerly could look back at only a small set of metrics that was often 45 or 60 days old, businesses can now project with some reliability well into their next sales cycle. What would it do for your self-storage business if you could predict your occupancy levels 60 days into the future instead of trying to make judgments based on the occupancy you had 60 days in the past?
Call-recording systems have become extremely usable, providing sales and customer-service trainers much better insight into what customers are saying, what they want and what they find helpful. New call-recording and evaluating systems go a long way in helping call quality improvement efforts.
Lead-distribution systems also have become more advanced. When our company first started, we faxed leads to clients. How archaic is that? We might as well have had carrier pigeons deliver the leads. Software integration advancements now allow systems to communicate regardless of platform. This makes for a much more seamless transfer of lead, reservation and rental information. This helps save transaction time and reduces errors. The ability of customer relation management (CRM) systems to talk to each other creates a much better customer experience.
What hasn’t changed in the call-center world is the importance of well-qualified people giving live callers a great experience, although the level of qualifications has changed a lot over the last four or five years. Just having good phone reps doesn’t cut it anymore. Most centers have extensive training, coaching and education programs in place to make sure the people with the most product knowledge, the best people skills and the most leverage for solving problems are the call-center reps. This holds true whether it’s an in-house call center handling corporate affairs or an outsourced one managing calls for clients.
Technology is a big help in conducting the training and empowerment work call-center agents need. Webinars, video training, “gaming” exercises and automated self-study systems have dramatically changed the efficiency and success of training programs.
The next time you talk to a call-center agent, think about all the technology going on behind the scenes. The organization you called has a plethora of people investing a lot of time, money and resources in talking to you. You must be important to them.
Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, an off-site sales force serving self-storage owners for more than 10 years. For more information, visit www.phone-smart.info .