The face of the call centre has changed and evolved quite substantially in the last few years. “Not only is the call centre a ‘shop front’ to your client, it also serves as a support centre and a means of building a strong relationship with your client by means of consulting,” says Monika Roode, the national call centre manager for Softline VIP, part of the Sage Group.
Call centre staff at Softline VIP undergo a comprehensive four month training process. The process effectively arms the call centre member with the necessary knowledge they need to double up as a full-fledged Softline VIP consultant that is well informed on all the legalities and taxation laws applicable in the payroll industry.
“We deal with sensitive information that requires professional advice with a personal touch, which makes training crucial to the process.”
Softline VIP has implemented a process that they have aptly coined as a client intimate discipline (CID).
“We actively utilise our call centre staff to form a very narrow relationship with the client and their business. For this reason it is crucial to find the right person for the job,” says Roode. Client service needs to be at the top of the agenda at all times.
“For this reason prospective Softline VIP call centre consultants are subjected to psychometric testing, must hold a minimum of a BCom Degree, must be a person who is willing to work with people and is passionate about customer service.”
Populating a call centre with the best people requires cutting edge technology to support the skills.
“The technology that is available to the call centre market can automate the entire process, connecting the caller with the last person they spoke to as an example. We currently utilise a comprehensive client relationship management system that keeps tabs of interactions that our consultants have had with clients, simplifying the process and giving anyone an insight into the relationship.
“The technology aids in keeping the contact personal and saves the client from having to repeat arbitrary information unnecessarily,” explains Roode.
Mobility has become a way of doing business, and even in the call centre industry technology is allowing companies to be flexible and agile.
“Our data base is available to our consultants on a virtual basis and the system is optimised to connect consultants through the system – regardless of their location – allowing them to take calls with clients as if they are in the office.
“Quality is of course of paramount importance and we incorporate various quality measures that are underpinned by reports that provide an overview of performance, which is further backed by monthly customer satisfaction surveys that give us a pretty good indication of how our customers perceive the service we provide,” says Roode.
“Investing a great deal into our staff, makes staff retention a very real problem.” The training and experience that Softline VIP call centre consultants have provides them with a unique set of skills that allows them to step out into the market with enough knowledge to fill a high profile position.
“For this reason we have launched a comprehensive health and wellness programme that includes performance appraisals, regular health checks, social events and a comfortable and fully-equipped work environment.
“We strive to build a narrow relationship, not only with our clients, but our staff as well. It provides us with the means of retaining the human capital that is crucial to the success of our business,” concludes Roode.