Call Centers, Sales and the “Social Enterprise”

May 3rd, 2012 by Mark Taber

Those of us on the front lines, especially the ones sitting in call centers around the world, know that virtually everything we do today is more complicated than it used to be. The competitive landscape is constantly shifting, new products and features are coming out faster than ever, and rules and policies seem to be in a perpetual state of flux. Closing our hottest prospects and supporting our most loyal customers become more complex with every passing day.

Today, it’s a given that no sales or support person can retain all that product, customer, competitor, market and other related information in his or her head. In response, marketing people, sales managers and domain experts of every sort try to help by providing vast amounts of information, building knowledge bases, and setting up social networks.

But more is not always better. All those well-intended efforts can overwhelm and confuse sales and support people where huge volumes of undifferentiated, and possibly conflicting information are readily available, especially on a social network,

Don’t get me wrong. Content, knowledge bases and social networks are extremely helpful. It’s really tough to sort through all that stuff when you’re on the phone with someone who’s expecting an answer NOW! On the front line, you don’t need more information. You need context aware automation that delivers the answers you need, when and where you need it. I don’t mind chatting with colleagues or putting a question out to the group, or searching a knowledge base. But to tell you the truth, it is a royal pain and keeps me on the phone too long. I prefer a business user-oriented, easy to use approach such as a wizard, developed by sales, marketing or support (and not IT consultants) that asks me a few questions. The wizard then gathers the information I need automatically behind the scenes, giving me the answer, or a suggestion of what to do next, in “real time.” I’m left to focus on what I do best – selling – rather than information hunting and gathering.

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