How to Build an Omni-Channel Call Centre - Breaking the Silo Mentality

By Jeremy Blake on September 17, 2015

Observing Call Centres in action over the last ten years, we have arrived at the difficult conclusion that, from an omni-channel perspective, most are not fit for purpose — yet.

If I call through to engage with one area of a business, then why can't that person automatically deal with other areas too? For example if I call a supermarket chain that offers products through their catalogue, and I call up to buy something, why can’t that person also provide me with an insurance policy as well?

Asking that question of managers you get this kind of response:

'Well, each area of the business has it's own service team. If we tasked them with being able to do everything then they'd have to learn all the different systems, all of the product and service lines and then tailor their behaviour.'

'So what's the problem with that?'

'Because if we did that then it would be much harder to monitor performance and see where the money is coming from and then we'd be unsure of what it is we are being paid to manage and then the whole world would end because that would break the whole 'management' illusion, do you see?’

Yes we see. Traditional business has dictated that as businesses grow, departments and teams are formed who ‘look after that bit’. And if you don't go through to the right bit, as a customer, then you can't be helped. This contributes hugely to customers getting, quite rightly, hacked off with being passed around. As usual it all comes down to a belief that it is about money; and the solution is as follows:

1. Recruitment - When you create the call centre, look at all of the services you need to offer. Recruit people with the communication skills to multi-task because they understand that multi-tasking is what is required for omni-channel service.

2. Systems - Train them solidly on all of the required systems, or better, develop a single system that will allow them to do everything - it’s a big ask, but the value is having a one stop shop for the customer; it’s not about you, it's not the customer's fault you have loads of legacy systems that need to be used, get rid of them and create a single, efficient platform.

3. Calls Answered by Humans - Once trained properly, create a call answering system that customers will love. Forget the digital voice and the IVR (interactive voice response), use real people who can engage.

4. Management - Managers who report from their silo are missing the point. By abandoning the silo and the need to report on each one in detail, managers can work with their teams directly on improving service which will surely affect results much better than individual reporting which tells a very limited story.

5. Partnership - If this all looks too daunting you better partner with someone, or a series of companies who can take you through this process and physically break down the silo mentality that is actually stifling growth and creativity.

Reality Training specialise in working with large teams in call centres to achieve omni-channel consistency. We develop change programmes to enhance customer lifecycle management and help businesses to engage profitably and positively. Our clients include The AA, Halfords, TUI, KUONI, Laser UK and B&Q.