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December 27, 2007

Aberdeen Research Examines Best in Class Contact Centers

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


Contact centers that are striving to improve the experience for the customer have taken a whole new approach to customer service. No longer is it enough to offer live agents to answer phone calls. Best in class companies have implemented other support channels to enhance the overall customer experience, while also reducing costs.
 
Many contact centers have also turned to virtual agents. This distributed agent strategy can be a challenge for some organizations as it is difficult to determine the right combination of people, processes and technologies that are critical to the effectiveness of the virtual call center.
 
According to an Aberdeen (News - Alert) survey, 63 percent of respondents are currently supporting a distributed agent strategy. These centers are seeking to increase call center efficiency while also reducing costs.
 
Aberdeen classified Best in Class (BIC) companies according to the tracking of their improvements in three key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs included customer satisfaction, where these companies improved by 62 percent; average call duration time, which was improved by 50 percent; and call abandonment rate, which companies improved by 40 percent.
 
Aberdeen also found that more than 35 percent of BIC companies have seen a greater than 10 percent improvement in customer satisfaction upon implementation of a distributed agent strategy.
 
This particular Aberdeen survey of more than 150 companies found that half of all respondents would upgrade their call center by adding distributed agents within the next 24 months. The top challenges that these companies face in such an implementation include real-time visibility and centralized management across a distributed agent strategy. 
 
These challenges are helping to drive contact center traffic to the Web as the Internet is quickly becoming the most cost-effective tool for managing customer support issues and monitoring distributed agents. Also being considered are regional call center offices and outsourcing call centers as cost-reduction strategies.
 
Several common characteristics are shared by BIC firms, according to Aberdeen. These characteristics include 89 percent of BIC companies versus 67 percent of others provide Internet access to their distributed agents to help boost performance.
 
In addition, 72 percent of BIC companies versus 43 percent of others are currently using online knowledge management systems. Finally, 53 percent of BIC companies versus 25 percent of others have implemented speech, IVR and self-service technologies.
 
A distributed agent strategy can be managed effectively as long as measurement, monitoring and management are involved. Aberdeen has found that 35 percent of BIC companies are using call monitoring, IVR and workforce management tools to produce a minimum of 10 percent improvement in customer satisfaction upon implementing a distributed agent network.
 
The research firm has also found that implementing a distributed agent strategy with the right tools has help 45 percent of BIC companies to see an improvement in call center uptime and 48 percent have realized an improvement in call closure rate.
 
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Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.
 
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.
 
Today’s featured White Paper (News - Alert) is titled Convergence in Telecommunication, brought to you by Comarch (News - Alert).
 



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