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Industry Research : South African Contact Centres 'Behind the Times'
More than 90% of communication in southern African contact centres is still via voice calls.
This is the most inefficient and expensive way of communicating with clients, according to Graham McLeod, manager of the CRM Focus Team at Nashua Communications. "It is worrying to see how few contact centres are making use of even basic technologies like e-mail, fax and Web chat to connect with their customers, favouring voice above all," he says.
According to McLeod, while there has been an uptake in new technologies like social media, southern Africa is still far behind the US, as there are a number of obstacles preventing growth, namely the availability, cost and quality of bandwidth.
"The quality of the interaction between the contact centre and the customer has to be superb at all times, and ultimately, South Africa’s Internet connectivity is just not reliable enough to facilitate all touch points at this time."
In addition, McLeod notes that old processes still affect policies in place today. "This is a case of do or die," McLeod stresses, adding that companies must adapt or run the risk of sitting on the sidelines watching clients leave to buy services from companies that deal with them in a way they prefer. This is particularly important when dealing with younger generations who favour channels such as social networks and instant messaging (IM) over actual voice calls, rendering voice telephony irrelevant for this market.
"This is a massive mind shift away from the antiquated corporate mentality of ‘take it or leave it’ – consumers drive the market, and ultimately, vote with their wallets."
McLeod describes the contact centre as the true face of any business, and one that customers regularly interact with. "If your customers aren’t satisfied with the method in which they are liaising with your business, then, regardless of the product or service you’re offering, you’ve failed to secure them as long-term return customers," he says, going on to say that this has led many organisations to bring the contact centre to the boardroom.
"We’re increasingly seeing the contact centre represented at management level with the capacity to drive and set strategy," concludes McLeod. "With the progression of the contact centre to this level, the integration of new technologies is more likely in the foreseeable future and contact centres will soon be responding to the method in which the customer chooses to interact with the business."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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