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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Collaboration Applications helps Communicate New Ways even in the Call Center

Collaboration Applications helps Communicate New Ways

Collaboration is a much discussed topic but it means different things to different people. Many consider it to be a way to have conference calls with colleagues or clients. Others view collaboration as a way to share team files and project documents. However, with 40% of the workforce mobile or away from their desk at any given time collaboration has become more difficult. Collaboration is really bringing people together to communicate together on a common topic via telephone, web, video, cellular or tablet device.

One of the biggest challenges of audio based collaboration calls is that once engaged you cannot converse outside of the call using the telephone. This is where collaboration tools that includes instant messaging and presence are very valuable. This is the discreet method to communicate privately outside the call or to pull in another participant. Also audio conference bridges do not offer the ability to share documents or engage in a webcam session. The old collaboration methods actually inhibit a company from becoming more productive.

The weekly sales/operations call has just started and Beth is reviewing the dashboard metrics. Participants can see the charts she emailed before that she is referring to and Sales were up 3% for the month, all cold weather clothing is sold out due to the frigid weather, 3 stores were affected by the ice storm power outages which affected sales, and the new Barrie store is ready to be fitted with shelving and is on track, IT is still struggling with the CRM implementation. Marketing is launching a new FaceBook campaign and twitter account to use social media as a sales driver but the Call Center CSAT scores are still low and worrisome. Beth now makes her way around the horn for a quick “anything new” from each business lead. John in sales is no where to be found and is probably out skiing with clients.
Brenda in Marketing is excited about a new product that she saw at CES 14 that fit into the “smart wearables” category. “Show us what you have there?” Ok hold on I am sending everyone an email with some photos. After several minutes everyone is looking at some photos. Brenda then blabbers on how cool they are and how they work but some listeners cannot visualize so they do not completely understand the concepts. Rick suggests we table it for the next monthly meeting. “But but Brenda jumps in….we need to order it now!” Rick asks that they set up a call with Danny to discuss it further.

Beth shuts the conference brdge down and everyone ventures off respectively for a coffee refill, while she writes up a summary to send out to the team and to the VP.

Obviously Beth doesn't have any real time collaboration tools to make her meeting more effective. What would be different?

Beth shares her slide deck with the team with her shiny new collaboration tool and everyone can see the content off a web browser no matter which device they use.

  • They can see the revenue slide, they can then see the sales by product category (look we are sold out and winter coats)
  • A photo of the new Barrie store can be seen
  • Marketing can show they social media advert progrom
  • Call Center stats for CSAT can be seen to be in a downward spiral with a dismal net promoter score of 22
  • Where the heck is John? With presence and instant messaging he can be tracked down to jump in for 15 minutes to share his new sales campaign
  • And Brenda can switch her webcam on and show everyone how the Bluetooth enabled gloves work with her Q10  BlackBerry and how the new baseball cap with an embedded usb memory stick and wi-fi router can change the world.

Ahhhhhhhh   “I get it everyone nods and clicks on the thumbs up symbol on the collaboration toolbar”

Collaboration can really change the way teams communicate and improve productivity in enabling better decision making but also allow users to become engaged regardless of location. All participants were all out of different offices and Rick was actually at a Starbucks. Beth the smart one let her dog out in the backyard so his barking wouldn't be so annoying.

The missing puzzle in all of this is that everyone didn't seem worried about the Call Center. The fact is the call center could play a huge part in improving revenues and customer service and can be integrated into the CRM, web site  and various Social Media platforms. Empowering the agents and consumers in a collaborative manner can bring innovative improvements to the business bottom line.

So when thinking about how to transform your business you need to look at how the current tools are being used today and how the new tools can bring measurable improvements.

Yes, new products on the store shelves can increase revenues but the back end processes and customer touch point improves can also do the same.

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