Contact centers are under the gun in today’s slow economy to do more/with less and boost productivity. Matt McConnell, president and CEO of Knowlagent (www.knowlagent.com) had these questions posed to him on contact center productivity trends, issues and solutions:
Q: How do customer service expectations impact contact center productivity?
McC: Consumers expect more when it comes to personal service. They’re accustomed to resolving most of their simple issues quickly through channels such as web forms. And when they have a complex issue and need a live person to assist them, they expect a high degree of effective personal service. To that point, when was the last time you heard someone rave about an IVR interaction? Churn risk is on the rise, and generally speaking, the risk of customers leaving is higher than in the past.
In response to this risk, contact centers are investing in customer experience. Net Promoter Scores are becoming more important in call centers — as well as first-call resolution. Senior executives in the call center want to invest more in customer relationships, but they want to keep costs low.
Thus, the “do more with less” mentality still holds true. However, the focus isn’t “do more calls with less.” Instead, the focus is on effective customer service, resolving the issue during the first call and improving customer retention. In sum, there is an increasing emphasis on being effective as opposed to just being efficient today, but call centers are still expected to do it inexpensively.
Q: What other trends impact productivity?
McC: The call center agent population is increasingly transient and diverse with a multi-sourced workforce from all over the world. Multi-sourcing is a real mix of people—including insourced, outsourced, on-shore, offshore, at-home, in-center, part-time, full-time and temporary agents — who serve a company’s customers, but don’t necessarily have the company’s name on their paycheck. With a multi-sourced workforce, it has become increasingly difficult to deliver a consistent message and level of service.
Also, call centers have always had good information on the customer from CRM systems and call volumes from historical “traffic,” but we now have rich information about the agent. As a result, call center managers can make better decisions on agent segmentation and customer queues and routing.
Q: Please explain how Knowlagent’s solutions directly boost contact center productivity. What is the payback period? Do you have illustrative case studies?
McC: Knowlagent increases productivity by deploying activities that normally contribute to shrinkage (i.e. social learning, coaching, communications or training) during idle time, creating active wait. As a result, more labor hours are spent handling calls, and shrinkage activities occur in between handling calls.
Statistics show that agents spend 11 percent of their day in wait mode, or, an average of 16 hours per month. They also have about 19 hours of scheduled off-phone activities. Of the 16 available hours per month of wait/idle time, creating one hour of active wait per agent per month pays for the Knowlagent solution, and as an annual SaaS (News - Alert) subscription, the solution is paid off within 12 months. Two hours per month is a six-month payback. Three hours per month results in a four-month payback. Clearly, the more active wait delivered, the higher you can drive productivity.
Another way to use productivity gains is by investing in agents. One company with a multi-sourced workforce (insourced and outsourced agents), invested in Knowlagent’s RightTime technology, so its call center agents could deliver consistent service and solve customer issues effectively and efficiently—the first time. To learn more about the impact of Knowlagent, visit http://www.knowlagent.com/resources/webinar-sprint-fcr.aspx
Q: What other types of off-phone activities contribute to shrinkage?
McC: Knowlagent conducted the Contact Center Shrinkage Survey, which revealed that a number of different activities contributed to shrinkage: must-read emails, projects, call follow-up, and coaching, as well as a significant amount of time in training and communications.
While training and coaching make up a large percentage of off-phone work in call centers, they’re not the only activities. Based on this research and requests from our clients to deliver more activities and applications, we introduced RightTime 8.5, which allowed us to deliver any off-phone activity, such as back office, social learning, call research and knowledgebase reviews, to active wait.
Knowlagent provides the only call center software that increases agent utilization by delivering shrinkage activities during idle time. Knowlagent creates active wait time through dynamically delivered sessions for common shrinkage activities between customer interactions. Knowlagent’s solutions are on-demand, easy to use and require no capital expenditures. Over 300,000 agents and managers around the world use Knowlagent’s solutions every day. For more information, call 888-566-9457 or visit us online at www.knowlagent.com.
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