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Forward Thinking

This paper will describe an occurrence that materialized within the Call Center industry and required an organizational change for growth. In addition, this paper will discuss the foresight, perceived opportunities and possible strategies to promote future sustainability, flexibility and adaptation within the Call Center industry.
A tag line is a phrase, slogan, or maxim that identifies a company, group or individual. For example, Coke's "It's the Real Thing," or Nike's "Just Do It." O'Connor & Hall, Inc. (OH) has developed a newly launched service that creates disruptive innovation and has a clear cut, compelling tag line. What exactly is disruptive innovation? According to one article, disruptive innovation is basically a new kind of product or service that is initially worse, but creates an entirely new market through the introduction of that new product or service and rapidly improves to address the customers in the mainstream market (Christensen & Overdorf, 2000). OH has developed a service that eliminates the costs associated with Apartment Locator's, improves retention, slows employee turnover, increases maintenance efficiency and provides 24/7/365 leasing agents for the Property Management industry. Thus, the tag line for OH's customer service is…“Global Customer Care.”
The tag line “Global Customer Care” is changing the way businesses do business in both the Call Center industry and the Property Management industry. Similar to Nike‘s “…inspirational call to action for the millions who wear the company‘s athletic gear” (Zadek, 2004, p.125)…OH's “Global Customer Care” is a call to action for the thousands of apartment communities and hundreds of property management companies pondering the solution to the current economy. In a current article, Ellen Gonzalez (2010) stated “When you contemplate today's business environment, all roads begin and end with the economy” (p.5). Instead of apartment communities relying on an answering service or some kind of Intelligent Voice Recognition (IVR) device i.e. press 1 for English, press 2 for Spanish etc., they can now benefit from “Live Agents” 24/7/365. In fact, “Technical support calls requiring a seemingly endless array of “press 1, press 2” interactions only to end with a conversation that did not resolve the issue is a common complaint of consumers” (Gonzalez, 2010, p.6). So, “The trick, then, is for companies to be able to predict and credibly respond to society's changing awareness of particular issues” (Zadek, 2004, p.125). OH has done just that, credibly responded to the needs of both the tenant and the landlord. The disruptive innovation of the “Global Customer Care” service is unique in that the customer care agents (CCA) are trained to handle more than one task. In other words, a CCA may be convincing a prospective tenant to lease an apartment (need of the landlord & tenant) one minute and the next minute be handling a maintenance call, or complaint about management (need of the tenant).
OH's management decided to build their company one client at a time, versus the normal blitzkrieg, or shotgun effect, of obtaining as many clients as possible as soon as possible. OH's approach in strategy of making their competitors irrelevant through a strategic logic call value innovation, is in line with that of other high-growth companies (Kim & Mauborgne, 2004). Therefore, OH contracted with only one client for a year and a half, preferring to tailor and perfect their service. The patience for perfection has paid off. OH's “Global Customer Care” service has helped improve their client's ranking (Lynd Company) by the National Multi Housing Council from 37th to America's 34rd largest Property Management company (http://www.nmhc.org/Content/ServeContent.cfm?ContentItemID=5599&NavID=95) in just one year.
To be clear, Varadarajan (2009) in a recent article stated “Outsourcing refers to the practice of a firm entrusting to an external entity the performance of an activity that was performed erstwhile in-house” (p.1165). Considering our current economic situation in the United States, it is not surprising to see an increase in the number of American companies outsourcing a portion of their business in order to strengthen the health of their company. For instance, Dou & Sarkis (2010) recently reported that “With economic globalisation and the emergence of extended enterprises derived from interrelationships among organizations, there has been a steady increase in offshore outsourcing activities (p.567). Furthermore, Garrett (2007) reported that “Moving a strategically chosen part of the operation offshore will make companies more competitive and ensure a brighter future for the people everywhere” (p.24). Garrett's comment makes sense with regards to outsourcing when one considers “Cutting payroll cost is an obvious attraction, with 40% to 60% savings typical” (Garrett, 2007, 24). In other words, outsourcing can keep American businesses in business, while providing desperately needed jobs to the less fortunate economies throughout the world.
In conclusion, OH is flexible in tailoring their services to meet the most stringent demands of their clients. Thereby, exceeding a client's expectations creates opportunities via word of mouth and letters of reference. In addition, as OH is conquering one niche (“Global Customer Care” for the Property Management industry)...OH will adapt, enter, and set out to conquer another niche. Considering America (and the majority of the world for that matter) is an information society, OH believes there are untapped opportunities within a multitude of industries. Finally, OH's strategy of diversification (servicing multiple industries throughout the world) will insure sustainability within the Call Center industry.

References

Christensen, C. M. & Overdorf, M. (2000). Meeting the Challenge of Disruptive Change. Harvard Business Review, March-April, 72.

Dou, Y., & Sarkis, J. (2010). A joint location and outsourcing sustainability analysis for a strategic offshoring decision. International Journal of Production, 48, 567.

Garrett, A. (2007). Crash course in...outsourcing. Management Today, 24. Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com.library.capella.edu/pqdweb?did=141232361&sid=1&F...

Gonzalez, E. (2010). Outsourced benefits administration: Separating fact from fiction, Employee Benefit Plan Review, April, 5-8.

Kim, W.C., & Mauborgne, R. (2004). Value innovation: The strategic logic of high growth. Harvard Business Review, July-August, 172-180.

National Multi Housing Council (2010). Retrieved from (http://www.nmhc.org/Content/ServeContent.cfm?ContentItemID=5599&NavID=95)

Varadarajan, R. (2009). Outsourcing: Think more expansively. Journal of Business Research, 62, 1165.

Zadek, S. (2004). The path to corporate responsibility. Harvard Business Review, December, 125-132.

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