CallCenterWorld 2010 – “How to become a customer interaction solution provider?”

CallCenterWorld 2010 – “How to become a customer interaction solution provider?”
CallCenterWorld 2010, 23.02.2010, Berlin, Panelspeaker at “Intl. Forum Social Media in Customer Dialogue

The CallCenterWorld was not the first event I was thinking of going this year I have to admit because for social media people this doesn’t sound like the place where you find your peers or insights for your daily work. Yet the conference manager, Helga Haag, was quite smart of putting social media on the agenda – because the participants also didn’t necessarily expect social media there.
Therefore the CallCenterWorld became a real highlight for me because the learnings for me were just great but in a way I didn’t expect: After the panel discussion and seeing other presentations (like from my Lufthansa colleague Thomas Gesing) and discussions with participants it became clear in my eyes that social media will be the driving topic in 2011 for the whole industry. This year for many it was rather the perspective what can we do against the threats of social media (“why can’t we put a call back button on the website or in the booking process?”), next year I’m sure people start to rethink their whole industry because they are not “call centers” – they are “customer interaction solution providers” for companies, nothing else. But still most people don’t realize this and always think of telephones and headsets but it’s about helping the customer on his preferred channel – and not the channel any more the company prefers, especially when we are talking about sales.
The call centers who realize this will have overhelming new business opportunities but also have to keep in mind that they will also have to do a lot of pioneering, also at their customers and not only inside their own company. But suddenly customer relations / care is not anymore about how can I offer the call cheaper to my corporate client and still be profitable but it gives now even the chance to build up consulting knowledge how to interact with customer on all channels suitable for customer care and relations. If somebody knows the customers then it’s the call center and its agents. Now comes the time to make this also really profitable again – there’s no one who knows the customers better and in the future also how to handle the communication on more than one channel which was most times so far the phone. It’s not about calls & phones anymore, it’s about human interaction and efficient communication!
Initially the panel was planed without any presentation and I didn’t prepare any but then we thought it would be a good idea to show a few best practices from the internet to give the audience a feeling what is happening outside and not far away from their desk. Quickly I set up my laptop and used the WLAN (no chance via UMTS so slow was it because of the number of users around…) so that we could show “United breaks guitars” on Youtube or the Socialnomics video where many started to get an idea what this is all about: Social Media is not about marketing (sorry to say, it’s not a new marketing hype…), it’s the fundamental change in human interaction and communication. And it’s the chance for the call center industry to get a twist in the opposite direction of the spiral which doesn’t get tighter and tighter (marginwise) but opens up new opportunities and business!
At this point I want to take the chance to thank Olav Strawe (Publisher TeleTalk) for the inspiring moderation of the panel and also Dr Stefan Weiss (CEO Empolis) and Paul Weald (RXperience, for Arsenal Football Club) for “throwing the balls” because nobody of us did expect that we would play so well together with all the different backgrounds!

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