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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Dramatic History of Call Centers

The Call Centre Confidential blog explains that the first Call Centres were created when people in the Stone Age began to live together. Before, when people lived in caves, they used to communicate to their neighbours using smoke signals:

“Please can we order one of those sabre-toothed tiger skin rugs.”

When they moved away from the comfort of the caves and began to build
houses and live in villages, they built beacons on the top of the nearest hill
so they could communicate to the next village:

“Our rugs have gone bald – can we have a refund?”

And I would like to add the following:

Even before Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines, Datus gathered their people by sending their messengers (Umalohokans) who might be saying:

“How do you find tiger skin rugs from the other village?

And this Umalohokan might add:

“We offer better skin rugs made from the carabao skin? We offer thirty-day free trial. Would you like to place an order now? But wait! There’s more! If you make an order now within the next thirty minutes, you can have our amazing three packs of tawas for free! So what are you waiting for? Why don’t we have your name listed along with your mailing address so we can start shipping you our world-class product?

These beacons and these Umalohokans were the first Call Centers, I might say. The idea might be a little far from the set-up we already know today. There were no headsets, no Avayas (the Call Center Telephone), and no cool station.

But come to think of it, the need for enhanced customer communication and satisfaction was already present in those times. It has developed through the years until call centers around the world sprout like mushrooms in rainy days.

Wikipedia says that Call centers began in the Philippines as plain providers of email response and managing services. These have industrial capabilities for almost all types of customer relations, ranging from travel services, technical support, education, customer care, financial services, and online business to customer support, online business to business support.

In the above presentation, the smoke signals and beacons explain the process in which customers or clients are calling the manufacturers through call centers to place an order or to make a complaint. This is also known as inbound calls which includes but not limited to customer’s inquiries, technical support, transcription, complaints, directory assistance, and billing.

While the situations with the Umalohokans, these fall under the category of outbound calls where the Call Center agents call the customers. The first scenario with the Umalohokans, it shows the process which focuses on surveys and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) evaluation inquiring how satisfied they are with the product or services a business provides to them. The second situation tells us about marketing calls where in Call Center agents call customers and prospective customers to sell products and services. Other services which are offered by outbound Call Centers are sales verification, collection, reactivation or reinstatement of accounts, and many more.

The following services are also being offered in Call Centers:
· Email and Chat Support
· IP Relay
· Back-Office Processing
· Work Force Services
· Training and Support/Career Enhancement
· Virtual Assistant

Call Centers connect businesses to their customers and vice versa. It helps in so many ways.

Imagine if there were no smoke signals and beacons before:

“Mommy, our tiger skin rugs have gone bald. My friends are coming over tonight. What should we do?”

“What? We just bought them last week from the three-day away nearby village. How I wish we had call centers today so that I could just simply make a call and complain…”

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