A story about Contact Center Software

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What is the purpose of your call center

A good question. Have you ever asked yourself this question? And did you came up with a satisfying answer? I mean, an answer, more specific than "helping our customers" or "selling products"? If you can't define the purpose of your call center how can you measure the performance of your call center? How can you improve? In other words - if you don't know where you are going how do you know when you get there?
Let me ask you some additional questions: Is your call center at the forefront of service and product development? Can you translate your purpose into measures and methods? Why are these important to achieve a world class performance? How do you manage your call center on a macro and micro level? How do you turn your agents into knowledge workers? How to improve their performance and morale?
Difficult questions, difficult questions. The answers aren't really simple - but it all starts with the purpose of your call center. Remember - if you don't know where you're heading, you don't know when you're there.
Let us take an example, an inbound call center that provides computer services for small and medium enterprises. The purpose of the call center could be: The management of information technology for businesses is like legal advice, accounting and the like - not a do-it-yourself product. Smart business people need quality support for their company IT issues. XYZ strives serves its clients as a trusted ally, providing them with the necessary telephone, e-mail and on-site support where needed, with maximum efficiency and reliability.
Now we know where we are heading. So your call center actually needs a mission statement. Yep, that's it - it needs a mission statement because it has a mission. That is the purpose of your call center.
One down, more to go.
Not only the call center manager needs to chant this mantra every day, also the supervisors will need to know this by heart. Really. They are the extension of the call center manager, so, they also need to know and act accordingly. And (you felt it coming) agents need to know the mission statement. Or purpose. Or however you want to call it.
So be sure that you make it not too blown up, otherwise your agents will say: "what a load of crap, they (the management) don't believe it themselves". Make it plain and simple and have them believe it. And act like it. Be sure that you are able to measure it. Look up some previous blog entries how to.
Next one, please.
Call center at the forefront of service and product development? What do you mean, you so? Are my agents going to do product development? Those people are there to help my customers. Right. Indeed they are there to help your customers. And they listen to your customers, they listen to them, to what is good and what could be improved. When you do it wrong, your agents will only solve problems - and you will have a high turnover in agents. When you do it right, they can provide valuable input to your R&D guys - and the agents feel important, as they help defining the next version of the product or service.
Can you translate your purpose into measures and methods? Another difficult one. Think of it - now that you have an actual mission, a strategy so to say, you must be able to measure it. Not in terms of number of abandoned calls but in well though out Key Performance Indicators (KPI's). Those KPI's will give you the ability to measure what is happening over time in your call center. Are your customers happy; Is a product selling more or less when a marketing campaign is launched; i.e. are we successfull?
From that, you can derive methods to improve upon the current way of working. This, of course, depends greatly on what the purpose of your call center is, but you should always keep in mind that the methods to improve should be inline with the measures. When you try to improve upon something that is not measured, well, it will not be measured, so you will never know its result. So be sure that it is measured in order to know its success.
Why are these important to achieve a world class performance? Well, I think this is obvious now, isn't it? You need to know where you go (purpose) and you need a way to see how far you went (measures) and plan for ways to go further (methods). Only then you can reach your goal to achieve a world class performance. Simply put, you cannot reach a world class performance without measuring and adjusting; this is absolutely necessary to reach your ultimate goal - the best possible call center with the resources available.
I will leave the questions "How do you manage your call center on a macro and micro level?",  "How do you turn your agents into knowledge workers?" and  "How to improve their performance and morale?" for the next blog - it is long enough as it is.
When you agree or disagree with these statements, or have something else to say, please do leave a comment. Or you can reach me via e-mail here. We could talk about how to implement or optimize your contact center with the use of our software.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:34 PM

Anonymous Outsource Call Center said...

Nice topic! Call centers are the way to enhance your listing skills and communications. Call centers has big compensations and easy job, you just set down and talk to the men in the sates that's it.... But the disadvantages working in a call centers you must patient and love the graveyard shifts. Thanks for sharing.


6:25 AM


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