Does the term “call center” have a negative connotation?
In many ways, absolutely. Customers think of call centers and they often think of long wait times, people that can’t answer their question directly, a significant journey to even find a human being to talk to, the chance that the person you reach won’t communicate well in your language, and more. On the call center agent side, call centers have been called “highly stressful and tiring” places to work, and there are significant Quora threads about why exactly call centers are bad places to work.
Now, you might think it’s curious that Conectys — a company with 11 global delivery centers, i.e. call centers for customer experience and moderation needs — would write a white paper on why call centers are bad and hellacious places to work. That’s actually not what we’re doing. We understand the connotations associated with “call center,” but for much of our 16 years in business, we’ve tried to focus on a different way of approaching this work. Ours is more rooted in agent training, agent engagement, the opportunity to advance, and the ability to co-create and co-strategize with our client-side product teams. That’s been successful for us.
We believe, though, that call centers are headed to a new future. First of all, we shouldn’t be calling them “call centers” anymore. We prefer the term “contact center.” Call center implies a factory; contact center implies communication between people and making contact, connection, and guidance.
Secondly, in the summer and fall of 2020, we worked on a deal in Europe with a governmental agency. There are certain connotations to government work too — slower-moving, bureaucratic, hierarchical, etc. So, on the surface, you might expect a deal between a contact center company and a governmental body would be very old-school and compliance-driven. In some ways, it was. But as the deal evolved, we realized that the governmental organization saw a much bigger, newer need from a contact center. They wanted a partner that was:
- Able to work from anywhere
- At scale and adding new facilities
The last bullet has been a common requirement for contact center partnership for years now, but the other ones are newer. On this deal, for example, the government body was concerned that we could help answer citizen questions across a variety of mobile tools, notably WhatsApp because they increasingly saw a youthful audience head in that direction.
We’ve thought of contact centers as stodgy rows of desks and people on headsets for a generation or more now. Are they becoming young, hip, strategic places all of a sudden? Perhaps.
In our next blog, we’ll start looking at mobile-first contact centers, the need to moderate in-app, facility expansion, and more.