Monday, October 31, 2005

Ineffective Call Centers Need Performance Management


Advances in technology, tools and an understanding of business processes all lead to a simple statement: You can make your contact center more effective and a more valuable contributor to the top and bottom line.

Ventana Research believes organizations can improve the operational performance of their contact centers by aligning the agents, the processes and systems being used to a common set of business-driven goals. To achieve this, organizations should follow a three-step process we call Understand, Optimize and Align.

To Understand, business managers acquire baseline information that can be used to measure their processes both currently and historically. To Optimize, they employ models and algorithms to create forecasts and plans that can change the way they view the contact center. To Align, they establish procedures for setting goals, scoring, notifying and automating the performance management process.

Managing operational performance in a contact center begins with determining what to measure, how to extract the data from which to derive the measures and how to apply the measures to improve performance.

What to Measure
As regards what to measure and how to find data, most contact centers are managed tactically, focusing on transactional throughput. This approach is typified by the wallboards that display supposed key performance indicators, such as number of calls in each queue, number of calls processed today and average length of call. However, these numbers, taken directly from the telephone switching equipment, really indicate only the efficiency of the center, not its effectiveness in resolving the customers’ for more

Ineffective Call Centers Need Performance Management
VP & Research Director at Ventana Research

Friday, October 21, 2005

Call Center Chaos

These posts came in anonymously, and I debated posting them, but they are too funny to refuse:

"I am a little bit fed up. I called in to one of the major soft drink companies to complain that every bottle I had purchased of their product was completely flat. The customer service person politely suggested I try their main competitor to see if their soda was flat as well. I was baffled by that response..."

-- if that is not a testament to quality assurance and call recording, I don't know what is. Well, maybe this next one:

"I've been a subscriber to this magazine for fifteen years. It was a Christmas present and I just kept paying the renewal bills because they were pretty nominal. I never read the damn magazine. Well, this year I decided to just call and cancel the subscripttion. They had no record of my ever being a customer. She said I might be in the crm system, but she didn't have access to that particular database. She apologized and said she had no way to unsubscribe me. Yhen she came up with this brilliant idea to add me as a new subscriber, and then cancel my account, and when the two databases are synchronized, the newer record would overwrite the older. Exasperated, I said ok. Now my pile of unread mags is twice as high."

-- This one seems like more of an IT issue than a call center issue...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Preparing for holiday and disaster call spikes

Depending on what type of call center you are, you may experience spikes in call traffic during the upcoming holiday season (yes, christmas is less than two months away...). Catalog companies are ready for this and are typically staffed adequately.

What if your call center is an Insurance company and the geographic region you serve is hit with a natural disaster such as New Orleans? Nothing can prepare you for the surge in calls in that case. Or is that true? Insurance companies must use predictive software to determine claim potential. Figure they have a few days' notice. They can probably bring in some temps to help answer the calls. It would be great to hear from some call center managers who went through the New Orleans experience - maybe they could share their planning secrets.

One thing we know for sure is that the combination of three software solutions help to make planning much easier: workforce management, CTI Software such as SimpliCiti and call recording and quality assurance solutions. They combine to provide a balanced, integrated, converged call center solution.

You can never really be prepared for a situation like New Orleans. You CAN be prepared for almost everything else.

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