On Saturday, we worked with a call center and one of our clients. I had that fuzzy, gut feeling that it wasn’t going to go well. My gut was right.
While we had our application complete and resources sitting idle for months, the callcenter didn’t touch anything. We had a demo and only their developer showed up. The client called the callcenter and asked what was needed to get ready. We called to the callcenter to see if they were ready. Each time the callcenter staff assured us that they only needed a couple weeks.
When you’re offered both time and resources, take them.
A few days before going live, they required a change in the application that we had to slam into production. One day before we were to go live, they tested and we discovered issues with the slam. We fixed them within an afternoon.
In our client’s eyes, of course, the two sides were intertwined. The initiative was their call center + our software. On Saturday we launched a few days late – this was when the real fun started. Immediate feedback on the center was rude, unprofessional and slow – from the clients, not us.
We immediately called some triage meetings with the company and the dirt began to fly. The months that drifted by after request after request for updates was ignored, and the focus from the call center was that the revenue model did not work. They were charging $x/call – but since the calls took too long, they were going to lose money. They feigned ignorance on the predicted volume, complained about the complexity of the call, and talked about the unreasonable demands of the customer.
Yet, they agreed to the business, agreed to the compensation and agreed to the timeline.
Don’t complain after you say you can execute!
They decided to try to throw all under the bus and defend their ineptness. It was grueling sitting through the phone call where they blamed it on everything under the sun. Aside from the ongoing dishonesty as to the real problem (not analyzing the job up front and preparing their staff properly) they chose the low road. Worst of all, they decided to publicly air their complaints after the failure, instead of before start. Their final defense was simple, the economics didn’t add up. They weren’t making enough to profit from each call.
The callcenter seemed to have forgotten that cost per call is not the goal of the client, revenue per call is.
It’s a pretty simple solution, isn’t it? The better you prepare your staff, the more efficient they will be at managing the call. The better they are at managing the call, the better they will upsell the client, represent the business they are acting on behalf of, and more than likely they’ll be able to get off the call quicker. If the calls take longer, the client may be willing to pay for it if there’s relative revenue. The cost is the call center’s problem, the cure is more revenue.
We asked what we could do to help. One recommendation was to add some additional functionality to the application. Unfortunately, the time for development had passed as the application sat idle.
Today, we turned off the call center to allow the team additional time for training. They’re still insisting on more money per call. They should recognize that it might be worthwhile to prove you can do the job first before you ask for more money. The client is giving them a second chance, I’m not optimistic they’ll make good use of it.
We’re already working on alternatives.