Executive Interview : Stewart Read, Sales and Marketing Director - Yourtilities Ltd on 2013 and 2014
We caught up with Stewart Read, Sales and Marketing Director - Yourtilities Ltd for our annual 1to1 update - a look back at the industry in 2013 and looking ahead to 2014
In your opinion, what has been the greatest challenge the contact center industry has faced in the last 12 months?
The increased media attention to 'cold calling' or unsolicited calls. The media has given call centres making outbound calls a bad name. Cold calling only makes up a small percentage of the total activity from outbound centres. However those centres misusing data and re-using data list have given the industry a bad name.
Why do you believe has this been a challenge?
The centres making outbound 'opted in' or customer service calls face an uphill battle to make each call productive. The first 5-10 seconds of an outbound call are crucial, due to unethical centres abusing this method of marketing, the rest have suffered.
In 2013, what do you think will be the top priorities in the contact center industry for each of the following:
a) Contact Center Directors
Income versus headcount. Now more than ever, Call centre Directors need to ensure each agent is profitable. Making sure each customer engagement returns a profit.
b) Company Executives
The bottom line. As we all know, call centres are not cheap to operate, and can be hard to generate profit. Company Executives will be looking at the bottom line to ensure there is still a viable, financial case to operate.
c) IT Directors
Although the cost of IT is reducing, with more competition for products, IT Directors will need to ensure stability with its systems and suppliers. A call centre with agents not working is a call centre not earning income for the business
d) Human Resources
Training, with each call needs to come a return on investment. It is vital the Human Resources Directors invest in training there agents. With economies and competition tighter than ever, agents need to have the skills to maximise each consumer engagement.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 12 months?
Mobile marketing and telemarketing. Fewer and fewer people are using or owning there residential telephone. People carry there mobile phones with them at all times. This is a massive marketing opportunity for apps, telemarketing and SMS.
What impact have "external events" even had on your company, and how have you adapted your business?
With more and more attention being placed on regulations and laws for marketing calls. We have begun to consult large call centres on Best Practise for outbound calling. Ensuring those centres are compliant with local regulations to ensure they abide by the laws. We have adapted our product suite to now offer these solutions.
Do you feel the service you personally get as a customer is better or worse than it was a year ago? Please share some examples to illustrate your view.
I feel it is better than a year ago. The key to a successful company is building healthy supplier and client relationships. Supplier relationships are vital, without them you do not have a product to offer. Regular contact and regular updates (good or bad) are key to growing a stable business.
What developments are you planning to launch in 2014 and how will they benefit the industry?
We have developed our business to move with the demand. We offer Voip products specifically for call centre industries. We can produce reports that allow centres to operate within regulations, both on there calling data and also the outbound calling activity.
Lastly, what do you think 2014 holds for the industry? (good or bad and where/how etc)
The industry will need to adapt, as it always has done. There is still a huge need and demand for call centres. However the industry needs to be smart in its approach. The emergence of the African and South American call centre industry is exciting. A fresh approach is great for the industry and healthy competition for the Asian market.
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