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Creating Business Value

A Channel Partners blog by industry thought leaders on understanding, articulating and delivering on the strategic business value of technology in the indirect channel.

Solutions Sales: Focus on Solving Problems in the Call Center

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By Rick McFarland

Telecom dealers, your market is in transition. Many of you have gotten used to selling contact center technology on a commoditized basis through pushing PBX boxes. Frankly, the industry has become too complex to thrive based on that model. In this more competitive environment, where the economy is still recovering, businesses want short-term ROI, as opposed to just one-off price quotes and skus. You need to learn to sell value.

Dealers can make themselves part of the value proposition when they offer a combination of solutions and expertise that directly addresses the business processes of the call center environment. This means a migration toward solution-based sales, as opposed to traditional box-based sales. he dealer needs to turn himself into a knowledgeable and crucial resource that’s integral to the sales cycle.

In order for any of this to work, your solution has to resolve the end user’s problems. Call center software can’t just be flashy, it has to create economies of scale, build in efficiencies and automate existing tasks. Your technology has to be the conduit that saves the end-user money and lets his employees do their jobs faster and more easily. At the end of the day, that call center customer makes payroll for everyone: the dealer, the software vendor, even the manufacturer of the phone system to be deployed. 

The call center can become a profit center instead of the typical cost center. The more functions your technology can automate through IVR functions, the more value it will provide right off the bat by addressing issues before even a live employee is engaged. A proficient solution should retain any details the caller has provided through IVR, and then make it available to the agent. The customer shouldn’t have to repeat anything they’ve already provided. (And let’s face it:  How many times has this happened to you?). 

Once your agents are in contact with callers, your technology should provide access to as much data as possible, ideally from a single consolidated interface.  This empowers agents to successfully resolve issues. With these tools, your employees can close calls faster, increase their workflow and will most likely become more satisfied in their positions. This, of course, leads to lower employee turnover, reduced training of new personnel and enhanced company loyalty. Plus, if each employee is able to settle more calls, the business owner may not need to hire as many people.

To create a compelling solution, both the technology developer and the dealer must listen to feedback and address real world requests from the contact center administrators themselves. If a solution incorporates those features, then the dealer will be armed with a customer-driven product, and that will make the sale. The manufacturer similarly has to incorporate the requirements of the customer to produce a more relevant solution. This is how we create success:  By focusing on genuine market issues.

Dealers also need support from their vendors, especially since a solutions-based sale has a longer cycle than a hardware sale. It’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to provide the dealer with the training and tools he needs to become a subject matter expert, one who can persuasively advocate the solution. Dealers should look for relevant vendor programs and resources to help them accelerate that process.

Technology can be an amazing asset, but in the end your call center software has to serve agents and supervisors. It must empower them not just to do their jobs better, but to enjoy their work enough that they excel at it and want to stay in their positions. The right solution will allow call center agents to focus on human interaction and customer relationships. Once that happens, the business owner will start to see results:  better service, more satisfied customers, greater employee longevity, more business and the opportunity for long-term growth. When the business owner is happy, everyone is happy — and everyone makes money.

Rick McFarland is CEO and founder of Voice4Net, which provides intuitive contact center software, customer management solutions and tools that integrate telephony and database systems.  He has been a featured speaker at national telecom technology events including Enterprise Connect and ITExpo.

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