It’s tough being the little guy. They often get overlooked and don’t get the recognition they deserve. This is true in the contact center world as well. There is no doubt that the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) contact center is largely underserved by the vendor community. It’s an understandable reality. The larger contact centers offer the low-hanging fruit in terms of volume sales potential and fatter profit margins. While vendors focus their solutions on the large contact centers, SME contact centers are often left with the hand-me-down and afterthought products.
There are a lot of misconceptions in the market regarding the small contact center. I thought it might be useful to discuss some of these misconceptions, thus my top five list of commonly held small contact center misconceptions.
1. A small contact center is a big contact center, only smaller.
Wrong. Small contact centers have their own unique business challenges and rewards. They have to be managed much differently than their larger siblings, typically with far fewer resources.
2. Having fewer agents to manage translates to having more time for training.
Solutions for large contact centers often require extensive training and a dedicated individual to optimize the resource. In the smaller contact center, most people wear numerous hats and simply don’t have the time to spend in extensive training programs. SME contact center solutions have to be intuitive, quick to implement, and easy to administer. While large contact centers have specialists, smaller contact centers have generalists.
3. Problems and challenges in the SME contact center are easier to control and manage.
There is no direct correlation between fewer agent seats and fewer problems. Customer service is the same no matter the size of the operation.
4. If you strip out features from a large technology solution you can sell it as a SME contact center solution.
While this is a fairly common tact in the vendor community, the end result hasn’t really resonated with those in the SME contact center community. It is usually viewed as a token effort rather than as a product designed specifically for the SME customer service operation.
5. Size matters. The small contact center doesn’t have the same impact on customer service as the large contact center.
The size of the enterprise is irrelevant. The smallest of contact center organizations can have the largest of impacts on any sized business. Regardless of size, the contact center is a critically important in maintaining customer goodwill.
Kim Hileman manages a small contact center for a relatively large company, Advanstar, and, as a member of the National Association of Call Centers (NACC), is someone I speak to on a fairly regular basis. Kim told me that the biggest issue she faces in running a small contact center revolves around technology solutions. According to Kim, “Most technology solutions out there today are too big, too cumbersome, too high-priced and not scalable so our options are really limited. We need the same resources, albeit smaller. I also run into challenges with training for new products and technology. I can’t afford to take a single person off the phone, let along everyone, in order to go through training. On the positive side it does make us think a little more creatively, which is not necessarily a bad thing!”
Small contact centers don’t want stripped down versions of larger solutions. As Kim said, they need the same resources. A market for solutions specifically designed for the small contact center exists. It’s time for the market to step up and meet that need.
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