supportDespite the increasing investments in CRM , many organizations keep struggling with customer relationship management and customer service in a contact center context. In its latest report, ICT integrator and contact center specialist Dimension Data, found that 63% of surveyed contact centers find it hard to properly train their staff in more sales-related areas, including actual selling skills.

Dimension Data stresses it’s essential to do so in these times where contact centers need to evolve from cost centers to profit centers. And staff-related challenges aren’t the only ones making this transformation hard.

Contact center staff training and coaching challenges

The global research, surveying over 200 contact centers and resulting in the “Merchants Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2003” (Merchants is a division of Dimension Data and it’s the sixth edition of the report), also states that 77% of respondents don’t measure the cost of staff training or look at the impact of it on the performance of the contact center.

[blockquote]It’s not the technology standing in the way of successful CRM projects but the corporate culture[/blockquote]

As the report also states, it shouldn’t be a surprise that in such circumstances, contact centers are under huge financial pressure in some regions and that many had to reduce the training and coaching time per agent. The average European contact center agent gets about half the coaching time (4.5 hours per month) of his US peers (9.2 hours per month).

The pressure regarding costs, also increasingly makes contact centers use e-learning platforms. Between 2001 and 2003 the percentage of contact centers having adopted e-learning doubled to 43% of respondents while cutting back on traditional training methods.

Another important staff challenge is the current lack of industry-specific knowledge as the reputation of the industry and the lowering budgets make it harder to attract qualified staff with commercial experience.

In order to make their case, it’s essential contact centers continue to invest in their human capital but do so in a way that proves the tangible benefits of training and empowering their staff. By optimizing processes and pushing for successful CRM projects, focusing on a single customer view, they can also increase their impact on business outcomes.

The single customer view and missing ingredient of integration and corporate culture

However, that single view today remains an ongoing challenge as well. The research found that over 75% of the surveyed contact centers aren’t able so far to get a single view of the customers across the channels customers use to get in touch with the company – and vice versa.

According to the report, it’s not the technology standing in the way of successful CRM projects though but the corporate culture. Especially the coordination of CRM across multiple departments (+70% of respondents) is a stumbling block. Working together across divisions continues to be hard in many areas, also customer service and training.

On top of training, coordination and multi-channel challenges, data integration is a huge problem. Finally, quite some respondents complain about a lack of management support for their CRM and integration projects.

In these circumstances, it isn’t a surprise only 21% of contact centers has managed to make the migration from cost center to profit center.

More in the press release.

Top image purchased under license from Shutterstock