Tell us about: Your best and worst call centre experiences...

Remember, CRM isn't about technology - it's about great customer service
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

Remember, CRM isn't about technology - it's about great customer service

Call centres aren't just an obvious way of doing customer relationship management (CRM). Think of operations that are internal help desks at large organisations or those that handle suppliers, partners and others. Yet their effects on our lives as consumers have meant we now tend to think them as CRM conduits. One analysis we published this week showed technology is critical to call centre success. Just as important, we concluded, are sound business processes and boardroom ability to regard them as vital offices, not as manufacturing lines - the dark satanic mills image so commonly evoked in the past. But as an obvious form of CRM, two things that silicon.com columnists - both ex-IT directors - have said stick in the memory. One told us, simply, that CRM is not about technology, it is about great customer service. He also said CRM only works properly in organisations that are already customer-centric. Truer words have never been spoken. Our other columnist told us something which we all know, at heart. CRM is as much about an account manager sitting down with an Access database and working a telephone as it is about the latest multimillion pound software or CTI (computer telephony integration). The crucial thing to both these explanations is that we had customer service long before computers and a networked economy. And the fundamentals of great customer service hold true. With that in mind, we'd like to hear about your best and worst call centre experiences. True, we're limiting this straw poll to this one medium - going against everything we just said about not thinking one-dimensionally about CRM. For what it's worth, this writer's best and worst are One Account (until recently Virgin One Account) and the US Embassy in London respectively. A strange mix but see where they're coming from. One Account is a current account mortgage product. They take hundreds of pounds in interest every month from most customers, customers who are increasingly willing to change providers at the drop of a hat. Excellent customer service, featuring real people, both polite and knowledgeable, is a must. The US Embassy probably feels it doesn't have to answer to anyone. Twenty minutes plus in an IVR (interactive voice response) system from hell - all at £1.50 per minute - for nothing. And it was for a question someone could have answered in 10 seconds. Email us at editorial@silicon.com with your experiences. Let's recognise the best around and out the amateurs.
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