We took some time out last week to visit the Contact Centre Expo at London’s Olympia. These events are often a good barometer of what is happening in the sector and, as a training and development organisation, provide us with a valuable insight in to the current thinking.
We weren’t surprised to find the usual array of large, impressive and, no doubt, costly exhibition stands from some major players in the industry. These companies were all related to IT solutions – from sophisticated IVR systems through to cloud based call handling technology.
We had gone expecting there to be a similarly impressive range of learning and development suppliers showing their wares, since surely, the contact centre business remains highly dependant on attracting, recruiting, training and maintaining a high calibre staff capable of providing the best possible sales and/or service solution to both the client and the consumer. It was both surprising, and disappointing that we came across just two such vendors. One a large global customer service training organisation (offering an identical solution to every one of their potential clients) and what seemed a much smaller company with a more tailored approach.
More worrying was that both of these stands were tucked away at the far end of the exhibition hall and despite there being many visitors, they seemed to be the only ones that weren’t attracting much attention.
There could be good reasons for this – maybe this particular exhibition was aimed more at the ‘technical’ side of the operation and attracted potential visitors that were interested in finding new and innovative IT solutions. Maybe it’s only the big IT companies that can afford to exhibit in these large venues. What worried us was whether the focus on training and development has slipped. In the past, training budgets have often been the first to be slashed in difficult times.
Whatever the reason, we just hope that those investing in the future capability of their contact centre don’t forget that, in most cases, it is staffed by people. These people need to work in harmony with the IT. That requires a focus and commitment to helping them be the best they can possibly be.