Going beyond the call center
by: Nate Wentzlaff
Calling a company about an issue can be a miserable experience. Being transferred to four departments and having to explain an issue, not to mention basic account information, four different times will frustrate the most patient consumers. These experiences have given the call center a bad image in the minds of consumers. Stereotypes of call center agents who do not speak fluent English failing to understand a problem have been burned into the American culture. However, the necessity for remotely assisting consumers has never been greater. Redesigning the call center into a contact center will enable credit unions to give their members excellent service. It will also empower credit unions to continue learning about their members through every interaction.
Call centers became widely used in the 1970s and quickly gained popularity as the telephone became popular. Previously, credit union members would have needed to visit with their local branch to discuss any questions they had about an account. Now, members could resolve these issues from the comfort of their home via telephone. In response to the demand phone calls were placing on the employees, credit unions began establishing call centers where highly trained employees would field calls as their full time responsibility. An operator (or an interactive voice response (IVR) system) would direct each issue to a call center agent with the appropriate skills. Calls to resolve issues became the norm, and the call center rose in significance. Although a telephone call will continue to be a strong form of communication with members, new forms of communication have risen in importance.
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