The Customer Service Center: A brief Overview.
It is more than likely that we have all called a customer service center (centre) more than once in our lives. Generally speaking, it is a place where customer enquiries, administration and customer service are handled.
Most large companies have well established customer service centers, where most or all of its customer contact and administration is carried out. Tasks that are handled in the customer service center may include:
- Customer call handling
- Order processing and tracking
- Technical enquiry handling
- Customer care and advice
- Product or service recommendations
- Sales and “upselling”
- After sales service
Some organizations have a large capacity, with thousands of employees or agents. These agents or Customer Service Representatives need to be highly trained, in order to provide clients with a high level of customer care.
Robust telephone systems are required to handle and distribute calls throughout the center. These are called ACD systems, or Automatic Call Distribution systems.
The Center is hotbed of jargon. Here is small selection of abbreviations used:
ACD Automatic Call Distributor
AHT Average Handle Time
ASA Average Speed of Answer
ATA Average Time to Abandon
CSR Customer Service Representative
CTI Computer Telephony Integration
FTE Full Time Equivalent
IS Information Systems
ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network
IT Information Technology
IVR Interactive Voice Response
LAN Local Area Network
PABX Private Automatic Branch Exchange
TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol
WAN Wide Area Network
Computers are used extensively, with most agents having the use of one. A variety of customer service software is utilized, including CRM applications and contact management software.
A recent trend for some businesses is to relocate overseas, usually in a country with lower operating costs. This is called outsourcing, or offshoaring.
In summary, the customer service center can provide an effective way to deal with large numbers of customers. As long as it is managed well, the customer service center is here to stay.