Scheduling is the Key to Turning a Contact Center from Cost Center to Profit Center
While contact centers incur a number of expenses such as technology, telecommunications infrastructure, telephone bills and overhead, the lion’s share of expenses are related to labor. In fact, it’s estimated that in the average contact center, between 60 and 80 percent of ongoing call center expenses are related to staffing.
Contact centers have another problem that exacerbates this: extremely high turnover. While the average annual turnover for a contact center is about 30 percent, some high-pressure industries (outbound sales, for example) see turnover rates in excess of 100 percent per year. This means that recruiting, hiring and training are constant, ongoing expenses that can suck the potential profit out of a contact center, turning it into an expensive cost center.
Too many organizations view this as a necessary and unavoidable evil, but the truth is that it doesn’t have to be so. Having the optimum number of agents at the right time with the right skills, in the right place is essential to call center success and profitability, which means that building a successful schedule is one of the most critical contact center processes to get right. Few companies today, however, are getting it right, according to a recent blog post by workforce optimization solutions provider Monet Software.
“Many contact centers still use spreadsheets and other manual tools to manage their agent schedules,” writes Monet. These sub-optimal schedules often result in overstaffing, lower agent productivity and higher shrinkage. The resulting costs can add up to $30,000 to $50,000 per year for call centers with as few as 25 agents.”
Modern scheduling solutions allow contact centers to more accurately predict call volume and make staffing calculations, automating the scheduling and offering critical intelligence through daily performance tracking. Hosted solutions such as Monet’s WFM Live offer call forecasting and employee scheduling along with ACD integration, real-time adherence and intra-day management, helping companies ensure they have just the right number of agents on staff to offer high quality customer support while avoiding the expenses and problems that can be incurred by over- or under-scheduling. The contact center can improve services levels and reduce center costs within days, all without the upfront expenses and IT requirements of traditional software.
These solutions also allow contact centers to schedule non-telephone activities such as e-mail, meetings, Web chat, training and even social media work to ensure that these additional activities aren’t happening at the expense of customer support quality. Managers can set up custom thresholds and variances to exactly match the center’s needs, and monitor all agent activities in real-time with custom alerts.
When it comes to the contact center’s largest expense, manual management simply won’t cut it anymore. It’s a way that contact centers can take charge of the amount of money they spend supporting customers and turn this investment around, changing the contact center from a cost center to a profit center.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi