Traditionally, call centers have been one of the main sources of costs incurred by organizations. In situations where the call center does not handle any sales activities, this is especially true as there is no revenue being generated by the call center agent. Even in an environment where the agents are generating revenue, productivity is critical to ensure that resources are being used wisely and that every call handled is done so in a quick and professional manner, leaving the customer feeling satisfied.
While it may be unrealistic optimism shining through in the desire that every call generate a resolution and a happy customer, organizations will make significant progress in that direction if their goals and strategies support that mission. If your call center is not already aiming higher than the industry objectives, it is most likely time to analyze why not.
By performing a complete analysis of your call center, or an x-ray of your processes, you can gain a complete understanding of what is working for your call center and what may need some adjusting to ensure productivity.
Performance indicators essentially are service levels and/or average speed of answer, service quality and customer satisfaction, abandonment rate, call volume, handle time and revenue. Without effective monitoring and reporting on all of these things, your call center may be incurring more costs than necessary without producing resolutions that lead to satisfied customers and thus loyal customers.
The trend in the call center has been to move customer communications away from the phone and into other mediums such as email and chat. Many software solutions have provided call centers with the ability to handle customer issues as easily via email. The only problem is that studies show service levels in response and timeliness of resolution with email requests are lagging far behind phone levels-- affecting the popularity of the email tools.
First contact resolution (FCR) is probably one of the most important indicators in the service levels of a call center; yet many centers do not measure for FCR and thus cannot grasp an indication of service levels. Without a clear understanding of how many issues are resolved upon first contact, it is impossible for these call centers to progress forward as they don’t know where their current situation.
Statistics have also shown that agents’ calls in the majority of call centers are being monitored less than three times a month. With this type of tracking, management has no real assessment of how these agents are responding to customers.
If any of these issues strike a cord, it is time to take a much closer look at your call center operations to get a full assessment of not only the current situation, but also opportunities and potential process improvements.
Several companies offer services to call centers to do such an evaluation. One such company actually uses the X-ray term: Avtex. Through the use of the Avtex X-ray, supervisors and key agents are met with, live transactions are observed, the cost per transaction is determined, call flows are documented and a full understanding of transaction types, data and telephony structure is gained.
With a complete 360 degree view of your call center, you will have the tools and reports necessary to implement improvements, reduce overall costs and determine productivity through increased tracking and reporting. The end result-- a recommendation on how to improve your business processes and increase overall customer satisfaction.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.