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The Ultimate Balancing Act

Reprinted from Call Center Magazine

May 6, 2002

Companies must keep tight control of budgets but not spending enough on agent training could cost them more in the long run. Here’s how to balance training dollars…

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Cross-Channel Training

Imagine: You have call centers, print catalogs, an e-commerce Web site and retail outlets. And you just invested in a mega-million dollar CRM package.

But do agents know what is on your Web site, in your catalogs, and what sales are happening in your stores? Do agents and support reps know the contents and have access to your Web site’s FAQ?

If they don’t, then they should be brought up to speed. So says Peter Gurney, managing partner with Kinesis (Seattle, WA), who recommends that you train agents about your channels, how they interrelate and how they affect the total customer experience.

Too many companies do not train agents on other channels, resulting in a disjointed image of the company, missed sales opportunities and frustrated customers.

Sometimes customers call asking about a Web offer or a store sale, but the agents have no clue what they are talking about. And that will annoy customers and embarrass agents.

If customers go to a store, chances are someone there will know about your company’s Web site, catalog and call center. Web sites will have store locations and telephone numbers.

Gurney’s former firm, Service Intelligence, performed a mystery audit of several leading companies’ support desks in 1997 (as cited in the October 1997 issue of Call Center Magazine, “Keeping Your Support Center Afloat”). The audit found that many reps did not have the right answers and could not answer questions even though the answers were in the employer’s on-line FAQ. Little has improved since then, he notes.

“Call centers are not taking the customer experience across the channels but customers are channel-independent,” Gurney explains.


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