By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
By definition, the recession is over. The worst is behind us and good times are ahead – at least in theory. This recovery, however, is proving to be slow. It is dawdling along, in an unhurried manner, unaware that we yearn for it sooner rather than later – and that for some, later may be too late.
This recession has had varying degrees of impact on those in the teleservices industry. Some have weathered the economic storm relatively unscathed, others barely kept their financial heads above the rising waters of red ink, and some became casualties of too little business pitted against too much expense.
For those who have survived, let me first congratulate you and then, in the same breath, challenge you. My simply query is, Will you be ready for what comes next? After a prolonged season of belt-tightening, downsizing, and fighting for survival, it is now time to embrace a new mindset and a different outlook.
Quite simply, contact centers will be asked to do more. This will not be the same old tired mantra to do more with less. We’ve pretty much squeezed our infrastructures as much as we can and overloaded our staff and ourselves to a point of burnout. At this time, doing even more with even less will likely result in a downward spiral towards implosion.
Instead, today’s requests to do more will necessitate that contact centers provide more services, offer more options, deliver more value, and allow more flexibility. To successfully do this will require an investment in new tools, the development of innovative resources, and the establishment of a more robust infrastructure. Succinctly, now is the time to invest in your future.
It is true that some forward-looking operations were quietly doing this requisite retooling during the economic downturn. Their patient and incremental improvements are now poised to pounce on the burgeoning opportunities that the recovery will offer. They are ready, and they are a step ahead of their competition.
That is not to imply that it is too late for everyone else, but now is the time to act. What new technology do you need that was put on hold? What innovative software package do you require to assist your agents or wow your clients and customers? Dust off that old wish list, revise the ROI projections in your proposal, and ask your vendors to update their quotes.
As you embark on this, remember that these critical updates might not necessarily mean purchasing new hardware or software, which is a capital expenditure. In many instances, these needed features and enhancements may be available on a monthly subscription basis. Whether you call it hosted services, software rental, or SaaS, the result is the same: needed technology is acquired without an up-front cash outlay or the need to obtain financing. It is a monthly operational expense that can be easily scaled up and adjusted as needed to accommodate the growth and opportunities that will soon be presenting themselves.
The question is, will you be ready?
[From Connection Magazine – June 2011]
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry.