Over 130 of Nigeria’s customer service and contact centre managers attended the first specialised conference to cater for their information needs: Customer Service & Contact Centre West Africa. The two-day conference and exhibition, held in Lagos over 19-20 November, had as its theme “Creating world-class contact centres through world-class technology”. Twenty local and international experts made presentations on latest technologies, business strategies in call centres and best practice in customer relation management.
Sean Moroney, Chairman of AITEC Africa, the organisers of the event, told delegates in his opening address that the country’s customer service and contact centre managers had enormous hurdles to overcome in terms of choosing the right technology for their organisations and developing capacity, skills and the right service-oriented culture for their teams.
The event featured an exhibition by local and international suppliers of contact centre systems and technologies, where all participants reported significant levels of sales enquiries. Exhibitors were pleased that all leading banks and telecommunication operators sent delegates to attend the conference.
A highlight of the event was a panel discussion, “Build or outsource”, where panel members debated the pros and cons of developing and maintaining an in-house contact centre, compared with outsourcing the entire operation to an independent contact centre. Although there was general consensus that outsourcing enabled an organisation to focus on its core business, delegates from banks expressed concerns about retaining control over customer data. It became clear that the industry has to mature further in order for banks and other potential outsourcing customers to develop sufficient confidence in the integrity and security of outsourcing operators.
Ifaenyi Obiora-Okafor, former Customer Service Manager at Zain and now an independent consultant, who chaired the panel, said that in terms of direct costs, he felt there was no significant savings in outsourcing, but it did significantly reduce capital expenditure and when opportunity costs like management time were taken into consideration, there were important savings.
The conference ended with a “User Clinic” where delegates were invited to pose their contact centre systems and strategy challenges to a panel of vendors. A wide range of issues were raised, including:
The criteria to use in selecting a vendor;
Methodologies for profiling customers;
Security from hackers;
Best strategy for setting up a customer service operation covering several countries.
The session was highly interactive and lively.
AITEC Chairman Sean Moroney closed the conference by inviting delegates to send their team members the Certified Contact Centre Strategic Leader training courses that AITEC would be running in Lagos over the coming years, starting with the People Management course in December. He also confirmed that AITEC would be running the Customer Service & Contact Centre Conference in Lagos on an annual basis to provide a regular forum for customer service managers and professionals to network, share knowledge, update themselves on latest technologies and systems and learn from international best practice.