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Call Center Articles

Call Center Innovation Provides Fresh Opportunities

Develop a mindset of ongoing change to produce meaningful results

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Most call center owners and managers want to see innovation in their call center. They yearn for leading-edge solutions that will promote quality and drive client loyalty. These are lofty goals. And they are also equally hard to realize.

In truth, connecting call center innovation with actionable outcomes presents a challenging situation. So, instead of seeking big, revolutionary business overhauls, look for simpler ways to integrate innovation in the day-to-day operation of your call center.

Each time an innovation opportunity presents itself, don’t first seek ways you could tap it to revamp your operation. Instead look for ways call center innovation can provide incremental change to what you already have. Here are three considerations.

1. Enhance Existing Services

With each new opportunity that presents itself, consider how it can enhance what you’re already doing. This is simply looking for new ways to do what you’re currently doing better.

For example, when voicemail first came on the scene, the industry assumed automated message taking would replace people doing the same thing and would do it for less. Yet these fears were unfounded.

Yes, this did happen to a small extent, and some visionaries built new businesses around this ground-breaking technology, but most operations adapted the technology to enhance what they were already doing. The result included voicemail message retrieval, customized greetings, and personalized auto answer to list a few common innovations.

Each one expanded what the call center could do. So, look for these types of opportunities with each new solution that presents itself.

2. Offer New Services

Another consideration when call center innovation presents itself is to consider what new services you could offer because of it. This is what many outsource call centers did when voicemail came along. 

They continued offering their agent voice services as they always had. And they now had a new service using voicemail technology: automated message taking and delivery.

Voicemail didn’t replace what they were doing but added to it in the form of a new service.

3. Expand into New Markets

Sometimes an innovation can allow you to expand into new markets. For example, as answering service software became more sophisticated, it allowed its users to move into telephone order taking, appointment setting, and database integration.

Conclusion

Call center innovation need not happen in huge, revolutionary jumps. We can better apply innovation as manageable tweaks on a consistent basis over time. This is the best and easiest way to find new opportunities for your call center.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.

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Call Center Articles

Create Sticky Customer Service in Your Call Center

Real World Customer Service Stories to Inform Your Practices

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

For over twenty years I’ve written a “From the Publisher” column in each issue of Connections Magazine. For many years that meant six columns a year, although it initially was four and at one time it ballooned up to ten, but we’re now rightsized at six. Altogether I count 174 columns, plus many other articles that I’ve published in Connections Magazine over the years. That’s a lot of writing and even more words, enough to fill several books. And that’s just what I’ve done—and more.

I’ve taken my best customer service posts, updated them, and added content. Then I wrote more examples and compiled them into a book. The result is Sticky Customer Service. It’s now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

The vision of Sticky Customer Service is to share real-world examples to illuminate customer service done well and customer service that falls short. The goal is to help enterprises—including yours—to stop churning customers and start growing your business. Through its pages you’ll discover helpful customer service tips to encourage you to do better and celebrate what you do best.

For the call center industry, we normally think of customer service as happening over the telephone. But it also occurs in person and online. It’s critical that we excel in each of these three areas to form a comprehensive customer-focused perspective that pursues excellence through all channels. And even if your intent is to focus on the section covering telephone customer service, the other sections will still inform your outlook and give you helpful insights.

Customer service isn’t a once-and-done effort. It takes ongoing focus to truly meet customer expectations. Sticky Customer Service delivers over two dozen practical, action-oriented insights to help you turn customer service from an ingrained weakness into a strategic strength. It’s a great tool for organizational planning, staff discussions, and customer service training. It will help you create sticky customer service for your organization.

Sticky Customer Service is the first book of my new Sticky series. Upcoming books include Sticky Sales and Marketing and then Sticky Leadership, capped off with Sticky Living. 

Get Sticky Customer Service and take the first step to turn customer retention into a core business strength.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.

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Call Center Articles

The Benefits of Home-Based Call Center Agents

Discover Why Every Call Center Should Move Toward Having a Remote Staff

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Many businesses struggle to find entry-level employees. This includes the call center industry. Though the technology to allow for remote work has existed for a long time—and continues to get better—some call centers are reluctant to embrace the option of home-based call center agents.

This may be due to several factors. A key one is the challenge of managing a distributed workforce. Another is being able to ensure quality. A third is a tendency to want to continue doing what we’ve always done and are comfortable doing.

Yet business dynamics continue to change. And the rate of change has accelerated in the past year. If your call center continues to pursue a paradigm of having all employees work from a centralized location, now is the time to challenge that perception and reconfigure your operation to address today’s needs and prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities.

Here are some of the key benefits of hiring home-based call center agents.

Tap Homebound Workers

Some otherwise-qualified employees want to work but for varying reasons are homebound. This may be due to their preference or their circumstances, but the fact remains that they are eager candidates. It’s just that they can’t go to work, so you need to bring the work to them. Fortunately, this is easy to do, as well as being a perfect fit, for call center work.

Though some situations don’t fit, such as people tasked with childcare or eldercare, other contexts are a nonissue. This includes people who lack transportation, live too far away from your office, have mobility issues, or struggle with social anxieties. These people can potentially work remotely and function as ideal home-based call center agents.

Expanded Labor Pool

If your local labor market lacks qualified or willing candidates, has unrealistic compensation expectations, or suffers from a low unemployment rate, explore an untapped or under reached labor market to find home-based call center agents to staff your operation and round out your roster.

Flexible Scheduling

Many call centers could benefit by scheduling people for split shifts, working an hour or two at various times throughout the day to meet traffic peaks. In addition is the dream of having on-demand workers who could login to process calls to deal with an unexpected deluge of traffic, be it for a few minutes or several hours.

Both these dreams are a realistic option with home-based call center agents. Many are willing to accept odd schedules or be available for on-demand work. They measure their commute in steps, not miles or minutes. And, unless your operation uses videoconferencing, their appearance doesn’t matter. They don’t need to follow an office-based dress code. Since there working from home, they can login within seconds and take calls for short shifts or on-demand, as well as regular shifts.

Of course, not every home-based employee will embrace this paradigm, but some will, and they may even prefer it.

Save on Facility Costs

With home-based call center agents, you have less people working in your office. This means you can scale back on your facility. Taken to its logical conclusion, you will have no staff working in your office. As a result, you’ll be able to close your office or sell your building. This will cut your costs and bolster your profits.

Provide Safe Employment

Though this concern is not as high as it once was, we should prepare for the possibility that it could one day reemerge, perhaps as an even more dangerous threat.

These are all benefits that have been around for as long as home-based call center agents have been a possibility. Yet there is one more benefit—a key consideration in this uncertain time—that you should not overlook and will be wise to embrace. This is, quite simply, working from home removes employees from the physical contact of others, eliminating the possibility of getting a virus from their coworkers.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.

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Call Center Articles

A Vast Repository of Call Center Industry Articles

Three Decades of Valuable Industry Content Available at No Charge

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of Connections Magazine

Every article that appeared in Connections Magazine for the past twenty years is available online, as well as most of the articles that occurred in the eight years prior to that, starting with Volume 1, Number 1 in July 1993. That’s twenty-eight years of valuable industry articles.

On ConnectionsMagazibne.com, I’ve grouped each one of these articles by topic, allowing you to quickly find all our content relating to a specific subject. You can also use the search option to find content by keyword, author, or company.

ConnectionsMagazine.com currently has over 1,600 call center industry articles and over 600 news items. That’s a lot of content waiting for you to explore and use. Though we incurred much expense to curate, edit, and post this information, we happily provide it to you at no charge. Our sponsors and other advertisers, which you can see on the left sidebar, make this treasure trove of information available to you whenever you need it. Please join me in thanking them for their continued and invaluable support.

More Peter Lyle DeHaan Articles

This column marks my 188th column for Connections Magazine, give or take a couple. As shocking as it sounds, that means I’ve written over 11 percent of the articles on this website. 

Besides 188 articles here, I’ve so far written 95 for TAS Trader, 140 for AnswerStat, and 56 for Medical Call Center News. That’s 479 industry-related articles.

People sometimes ask if I’ve published an article about a certain topic. Most of the time, I can’t remember. Over my career, I’ve written millions of words, so please don’t be too critical if my words began to blur. And when I have a vague inkling that I’ve covered a subject, I’m not sure which publication it might have been in.

To address this, I’ve combined all my call center industry articles in one place: here. (I also include over 100 articles about business and 600 about writing and publishing, for over 1,400 of my articles all in one place.) On that website, I grouped my articles by category. It also has a handy search feature.

Peter Lyle DeHaan Books

With all this content, you might wonder if they will ever appear in book form. The answer is yes. They will. I’ll start with some general business books—with an underlying call center perspective—covering customer service, leadership, and sales and marketing.

Look for the first of these books, Sticky Customer Service: Stop Churning Customers and Start Growing Your Business, later this year. More books in the Sticky series will soon follow. 

I’ll also compile content from my various publications to produce some call center industry books as well. These are also in progress. All I need is the time to complete them.

I will announce these books’ availability here as soon as they’re available.

Thank you for reading these call center industry articles and thank you for your encouragement. It keeps me writing.

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Call Center Articles

Welcome to Connections Magazine 3.0

Read Connections Magazine Anywhere You Have Internet Access

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

As announced last year, the January 2021 issue of Connections Magazine marks an exciting turning point for us. Following a long-standing industry trend, Connections Magazine is now exclusively an online e-publication. We’ve gone all digital.

This means you can access all our content—articles, industry news, vendor intelligence, and association information—anytime, anywhere you have internet access. Read Connections on your computer, laptop, smart phone, tablet, or any other internet-connected device.

To get you started, here are some links to key sections on our website:

We’ve already successfully navigated this transition with our sister publication, AnswerStat, in becoming an e-publication in 2016. Since that time, AnswerStat has continued its mission of being the information hub for the healthcare contact center industry.

We now seek to build upon this history of accomplishment with Connections Magazine.

Advertiser Supported and Free to You

Throughout our 28-year history, Connections Magazine has been an advertiser supported publication. What’s this mean? Quite simply that our sponsors and advertisers provide the funds to produce each issue.

Thanks to them, you’ve always been able to read Connections Magazine for free and will be able to continue to do so. 

We will have no paid subscriptions, and we won’t hide the information you need behind a paywall. It’s readily available for you and all the industry to read. 

Every vendor and association listed on this website helps make Connections Magazine possible. Key among these are our valued sponsors:

Our other advertisers include TASbiller, CenturiSoft, Call Centre Hosting, Alliant, and Quality Contact Solutions

Please join me in thanking each one of them for doing their part to maintain Connections Magazine as a valued industry resource and to serve the call center industry.

A Milestone

Besides my excitement over transitioning Connections Magazine to a 100 percent e-publication, this year will see another landmark moment for me.

In August, I will have completed twenty years at the helm of this publication and as president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc. It’s been a fun and invigorating, albeit at times challenging, adventure. I look forward to many more years of providing you with valuable, actionable, and helpful industry information.

In addition to Connections Magazine, I also produce TAS Trader for the telephone answering service industry and AnswerStat and Medical call Center News for healthcare call centers. These are also advertiser-supported publications, made free to readers.

A New Year

I can’t conclude this column without noting the passage of another year. Last year was indeed challenging for everyone. Lockdowns, restricted mobility, and social distancing shoved our world into an unprecedented time of confusion and perplexing thoughts.

The call center industry, however, found itself well-positioned to provide essential and safe communication between businesses and their customers. I’m proud to be part of such a resilient and indispensable industry that did much to help us navigate what last year threw at us.

Though turning the calendar to a new year does not return us to business as normal, it marks the opportunity to move forward and embrace a new future with new opportunities. I am confident that the call center industry will help our world successfully embrace what lies before us.

And Connections Magazine will be there every step of the way.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.