Companies of all shapes and sizes have turned to contact centers for their one-of-a-kind proficiency and telecommunications experience since the conception of the call center in the 1980s. The capacity and expertise contact centers bring to the table allows clients the freedom to streamline their processes and focus their efforts on maintaining and expanding their core businesses.
Too often, however, the singular focus of contact center managers on the success of their clients’ programs can distract them from finding new ways to expand their own service lines. But by virtue of their unique skills, knowledge and abilities, they are well-positioned to provide added value to existing clients and attract new ones by launching expanded business solutions and services.
Why It Makes Sense
Contact centers have long been an important resource for companies in need of high-quality, dedicated customer service. The infrastructure of the typical contact center can provide a springboard for the delivery of services beyond the traditional inbound and outbound telecommunications functions.
The built-in structural and operational foundations that underpin successful telecommunications operations mirror those required to deliver other high-demand business solutions; these foundations include well-established security procedures, customizability of programs and technology, flexibility to accommodate shifting business volume, the breadth and depth of expertise, capacity for large-scale training and onboarding, quality assurance processes, and proven experience delivering a consistent customer experience.
For these reasons, traditional call centers can position themselves to support a range of back-office needs for companies in need of reliable, dedicated services that free them to focus on their core businesses.
What it looks like
In addition to communications-specific services, contact center leadership should consider expanding their services to include one or more of the following types of programs, which their expertise and infrastructure may already position them to support.
- Remediation programs: When organizations such as banks, cell phone carriers or governments become aware of potential clerical errors with account information, potentially misleading marketing scripts or other mistakes, contact centers are best positioned to help them reach target audiences, communicate critical messages across multiple channels and achieve a resolution quickly.
- Data intake, entry and processing: Contact center software is highly customizable by design, great agents are skilled at processing large amounts of information uniformly, and data security measures are often top-notch, making it the perfect venue for meeting the various data processing needs for clients across an array of industries.
- Product recalls: Product recalls are usually time-sensitive and require rapid response, often on an international scale. Contact centers, more so than other entities, have the bandwidth to reach sizable and diverse audiences and respond to customer inquiries in real time, both crucial to successful recall programs.
- Print and fulfillment programs: Initiating a print and fulfillment program within the contact center makes your organization a one-stop-shop for all your clients’ communication needs—print, digital and telephonic. Even if you are unable to handle large-scale printing needs in-house, your project management capabilities combined with your robust vendor network enables you to become a singular resource for clients and positions you as a preferred service provider.
- Mailings and distributions: With the right infrastructure, contact centers can leverage their physical space and client outreach proficiency to engage in the distribution of products and non-digital communications. With most mailing and distribution services occurring on an as-needed basis, the flexibility to ramp up and ramp down quickly makes the contact center a vendor of choice for these types of programs.
While not every contact center will have the capacity to handle all of these programs and lines of businesses, offering just one or two could provide measurable returns to your organization.
How to get started
Launching an impactful business solutions division in the contact center requires its leaders to rethink and retool existing processes, build and maintain strong relationships with partners and vendors, and market its expanded services in new and innovative ways.
- Start with current clients: You know your existing clients and understand their most pressing needs. When launching a new business solutions practice, leverage that knowledge by offering one or two new services as an extension of your existing contracts, at a reduced cost if necessary. This will help you showcase your expanded capabilities and gain critical, practical experience outside of traditional inbound and outbound call services.
- Create contract flexibility: Clients often need pliancy when working with a provider for the first time. Build flexibility into your contracts by providing new clients a month-to-month service option or a 30-day grace period. This provides clients a sense of comfort and gives you the time to prove your worth to their bottom line.
- Cultivate vendor partnerships: While building your new division, look to trusted vendor partners to fill important operational gaps. Print service providers, postal vendors, graphic designers and even other outsourcing companies will play an important role in helping you deliver new services. Even if the cost is substantial, the upfront investment will provide measurable ROI in the form of future business.
- Choose customizable software: The software utilized in the contact center will largely determine its ability to work with clients whose needs are diverse. Choose software that is highly customizable, which will help standardize processes for agents, enabling them to deliver a consistent experience regardless of the program.
- Use physical space wisely: Clients will each require different physical and security protocols be in place before awarding business contracts. For example, financial clients may mandate that no paper or pens be allowed at agent workstations while regulatory bodies may insist that exterior windows be tinted. By modularizing the physical space proactively, you position the contact center to meet various client-specific program and security demands, giving you a leg up in the proposal process.
- Accelerate security and compliance: Depending on your target clients, consider working towards attaining industry-specific security and compliance certifications that underscore the company’s safe and secure operating procedures. This is especially important when delivering data intake and processing solutions.
- Jumpstart training processes: Before new programs go live, begin training your team on the nuances of the line of business the company plans to launch. If it is product recalls, for example, use downtime to review the history of recalls and discuss prevalent terminology, which will give agents a holistic view of the industry right out of the gate.
- Adapt quality assurance processes: Clients will have differential perspectives on what constitutes quality assurance and what role they should play within the process. Offer several options for clients to get involved in the QA process, from participating in the design of KPIs to allowing remote access to monitor calls and conduct spot checks, which will provide peace of mind as they chart new territory with your organization.
- Market new services strategically: Introduce your new solutions first to the clients who know what your team is capable of achieving. Then, consider creating separate marketing materials such as web and social media pages with the goal of reaching business audiences whose needs might not lead them to your call center platforms. Above all, execute initial programs flawlessly, as this word-of-mouth advocacy will become your biggest asset from a marketing perspective.
With the rapid rise in technology that streamlines business processes, it’s more important than ever for contact centers to remain relevant, to add value for clients and their programs, and to attract and retain new business. Launching new business solutions services, while not a casual undertaking, is an arguably necessary step for contact centers aiming to grow, deliver value for their stakeholders, and positively influence their bottom lines.