A story about Contact Center Software

Monday, November 08, 2004

Hmm, eyecandy

Some days ago I saw a web demo of a scripting language for call centers. Very impressive. Everything was configurable, every item had tons of properties, methods. It looked incredibly smooth. Perhaps even better than Visual Basic. But would I choose it for my scripting environment if I were a contact center? I don't think so.
Why not? Allow me to explain.
All these features take time. Your developers will want to use these features, so they will need time to learn these features. They will take more time to look up the intricacies of these features. They will take more time to develop the scripts, because after all, we now have a nice XYZ control so we *HAVE* to use it. That it can be implemented ten times as fast in an other way does not matter. They just need to use these new features.
Having all these features available on the agent side means more bugs which means more downtime and that means less productivity hence less money. Which is not what you are in business for.
Now, I'm not against new features - I'm against unncessary overhead. Remember the first time you saw a 'Tip of the Day'. Wasn't that cute? How many still do have a tip of the day activated? I deactivate them as soon as I can. I don't need all these gimmicks - I need a working environment, not a playground.
So what do you need when you are looking for a good scripting environment for your call center? You need a fast and flexible scripting environment in which most of the functionality is available (and the rest can be added on, if necessary), without all the bells and whistles.
So tell me: eyecandy scripting or fast functional scripting? What do you choose?
At Altitude Software we make such a scripting environment. Fast, lean and mean. During a demo, I can make a real life working script. Want to see it? Just Invite me.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Out of the box or not, that is the question

Is it?
Several contact center vendors provide an out of the box contact center solution. Are you ready to buy it? Well, I don't buy it. Since when does one size fits all? Are you betting your contact center (that is the basis of your valuable contacts with your clients) on an IKEA style application?
Now, nothing wrong with IKEA furniture, but applications in this type of industry need to be thought out together with the client, in order to be 100% effective. Or else you will end up with an application that will fit your needs for 50 % and you will build applications and patches and workarounds in order to make it work more or less the way you want it. This will cost you more money and time in the end.
Let's see. Windows is delivered with WordPad (as Write is called nowadays). Do you use it? Ever? Why did you buy Microsoft Word (or downloaded OpenOffice.org?) - Because you needed something more powerful. So, don't go for the prepackaged applications. Unless. Unless you can change them - meaning unless you can have the source code to change them or can have consultants that can change the source for you in order to change the application to suit your needs.
I think that all these offerings of contact center vendors with cheapo products - they are just trying to tie you in to their product. And when you are tied into it? Then they will suck you dry. You will need to buy this. And that, and the other. And you pay. And pay. And pay. And see the bottom of your wallet very soon.
So - think when you buy something cheap. It may well not be as cheap as you are thinking...

Wanna buy (perhaps not so cheap, but very performing) contact center software? Mail now. I'll be sure to make you an offer you can't refuse.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Santa Claus - or how do I drive my customers away

Recently I received a promotional e-mail with a picture of Santa Claus in it. Or better, it was the Dutch variant - Sinterklaas, who will come on the 5th of December with all kinds of presents.
I found the appearance of Santa Claus in e-mails rather early, so I decided to make a remark. I replied to the marketing e-mail, saying that this is way too early, and that I didn't appreciated it.
Two minutes later, I had a reply. An automated one. Mailbox size over the limit. I reread the original e-mail, and apparently you cannot reply to that marketing e-mail. You need to go to the website. So I went to the website, and after some searching I finally found the e-mail address where I could send my complaints to. Which I did.
After two minutes - no reply. After two hours, no automatic reply. Almost a week later, and still nothing. What do you think, will I still order there?
No, of course not.
Why? Not because of this silly Santa Claus thing where I objected - but on the way they treat their customers. It is the only thing they have!  No customers, no business. So when you don't reply to your customers when they have a question, why should they be different in the rest of the organisation.
What did they do wrong. Let's see:
  1. Always send out e-mails that you can reply to. No matter what you need to do in technical terms. People are just plain dumb. They get an e-mail, hit the reply button. Like I did. And "This Should Just Work (tm)".
  2. Have an automatic reply. Very simple. Just say something in the lines of "Thank you for sending us your e-mail. We will try to reply within three working days". Or whatever.
If they would have played with the rules, I'd probably ordered the next item there. But they didn't. So I'm off to the next shop. There are plenty of them on the internet.
Do you want to drive your customers away with your contact center? Then DON'T TALK TO US. Or perhaps you do need your customers? Mail me.