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Transformation from a reactive to proactive Contact Center - Seven simple steps to being a strategic, value adding and profit enhancing service provider

By Vijay Pereira MCMI, UK
Performix Performance Management


By Vijay Pereira MCMI, UK
Researcher and Lecturer, University of Portsmouth, UK


Organisations are striving to mature their contact centers from simple call centers into multi-channel centers tied to strategic imperatives to deliver improved business performance. BPO providing organisations delivering contact center services must broaden their examination of productivity from the conventional company-oriented perspective to a dual company-customer perspective.


This broadened approach can help reconcile conflicts and thus leverage synergies between improving service quality and boosting service productivity. This article proposes a conceptual framework in the form of seven simple but paramount steps- for understanding the inter-linkages among service quality and the various components of the company-customer perspective of productivity, and discusses the implications of this seven step framework for service executives and researchers.


Contact centers are nowadays seen as profit-enhancing and value adding rather than a cost both internally for departments and externally for clients or customers. The contact centre is also often overlooked as a source of valuable business intelligence. However recent advances in voice and screen recording technologies and real-time call center reporting and analytics applications have enabled virtually every division of the enterprise to benefit from the vast store of valuable information gathered by this front-line communications hub.


Thus a contact centre also increases productivity by being a valuable internal motivational agent- apart from being an excellent external agent. For example the ‘Marketing departments’ can now gain extensive marketplace feedback on specific campaigns, the performance of individual products, and customers’ attitudes towards competitors’ brands.


For the ‘Human Resources’ department, contact center interactions are an essential tool for conflict or complaint resolution, disciplinary action or training programs modification, and improvement of scripts for recruiting and interviewing. At the ‘Boardroom’ level, reports formulated from intelligence gathered from the contact centre can assist in strategic decision-making - from organisational positioning to resource allocation.


Important business decisions are now being made on human time. With ‘Actualised Intelligence’, instead of waiting for days, weeks, or even months for a performance report, executives and managers are promptly alerted to the fact that a specific campaign is resulting in an above or below average number of sales or other objectives - even as they are in progress. They can then drill down to individual agent/customer calls that have resulted in a sale and discover what the customer is responding to and why.


This information can be used immediately to strengthen and focus the campaign and/or make adjustments, thus increasing profit margins and customer satisfaction. For example, by using an analytics application, a marketing executive can be automatically alerted to the fact that a specific marketing campaign is resulting in an above average number of sales. The executive can drill down to the individual agent/customer calls that have resulted in a sale and discover what the customer is responding to and why. Simultaneously, automated business rules will trigger the delivery of targeted training materials directly to the desktops of the agents handling the campaign.


The following seven simple steps would greatly enhance the contact center performance (individual, group, and overall). Following these seven steps would thus enable management to increase agent performance, decrease agent attrition, increase customer satisfaction, decrease costs, and raise revenue. From global enterprises to mid-sized contact centers- contact centers can collect data and present real time and historical performance information to agents, managers and executives within the enterprise. Nowadays it is possible that Key performance indicators (KPIs), quality scores, scheduling information and service level indicators can be distributed to contact center personnel using desktop dashboards, Web-based consolidated reporting, and television monitor display systems. Contact centers can also monitor both telephony and business metrics in real time - providing the tools to leverage that data into business intelligence that can dramatically enhance contact center and business performance.


The seven simple steps for doing so- along with examples are:


  1. Realise efficient call center monitoring -
    To turn a reactive customer service center into a proactive profit generating center an organisation would require data to drive key management decisions, customer treatment initiatives, targeted training, and quality process improvements. The success of this would depend on its acceptance by all levels of the organisation and its integration into the organisation’s service culture. Hence an organisation would need to develop and initiate a Customer Contact Monitoring (CCM) Program, providing coaching for supervisors and managers in monitoring skills, and create training and coaching programs for incumbent representatives on service and sales skills. Thus it would provide a series of supervisory coaching sessions to assist managers and supervisors in using call monitoring. This would drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and profitability up significantly.

  2. Augment skills for customer service -
    For example-If an organisation needs to design and implement a telephone call monitoring program to assess the performance of Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) and administer a customer satisfaction survey to assess the performance of CSRs- It would have to conduct a thorough behaviour assessment to identify behaviours necessary for CSRs to perform successfully. It would also then have to develop a standard set of call monitoring guidelines and reporting tools. The objective would be to assess performance of CSRs in a standard, valid, detailed, and customer-oriented manner, and to provide actionable feedback through detailed reports that could be used by CSRs in order to develop improvement areas. Here it would have to develop a survey used to assess customer satisfaction that would be used subsequent to a merchant’s call with a CSR. The objective of this survey would be to provide an understanding of overall levels of satisfaction and to identify specific strengths or opportunities for improvement, thus augmenting the necessary skills for CSR’s.

  3. Boost customer satisfaction -
    There is certainly ample evidence to suggest that- As organisations experience a surge in demand for services, there is intense scrutiny from its stake holders. Similarly in the ‘Customer Contact’ industry- To meet the increasing need of its customers and improve customer care, the organisation would need to initiate a plan to improve customer service. The plan would include a culture shift from being solely an ‘information provider’ to also becoming ‘customer centric’. Organisations could conduct surveys showing what customer satisfaction rating Contact Representatives (CRs) received as an average. To improve customer satisfaction, the organisations could conduct an in-depth assessment of the calls handled by the CRs. Hence an organisation could develop a set of call monitoring standards to facilitate the implementation of best practice service. Organisations could train and certify all call center management on how to monitor calls and effectively coach the Contact Representatives. Once management is trained in call monitoring, the CRs could be trained and coached on ‘new-improved’ customer service expectations, the monitoring process and how to respond to coaching by their supervisors.

  4. Save considerably on costs of selection and training -
    Most organisations would want its customer service positions to have the skills and abilities necessary to learn quickly and perform well. It is important that customer service applicants have a full and accurate understanding of call center work and the environment. However at the least cost. Hence the endeavour to overcome the challenges of: Reducing hiring costs; provide a realistic job preview; reduce turnover to increase employment ROI; and to ensure that customer service representatives are hired using best practices- Organisations could begin with a job analysis and formal needs assessment to identify critical competency areas for each customer service job. They could implement various available methodologies as a selection tool which thereby provided a multi-media, web-delivered computerised simulation of inbound contact center representative work that would serve as a job preview. Care should be taken however that the chosen tool assesses the skills necessary to learn quickly and provide excellent customer service.

  5. Decrease turnover costs significantly -
    Contact center organisations need to cater to a variety of clients or customers. Certain customers, for example in the financial sector rely heavily on contact centers to sell products and service policy and account holders. The BPO service providing organisation would need an innovative and affordable customer service assessment tool featuring outstanding prediction of job success and easy administration. Here again a ‘best fit’ ‘selection tool’ needs to be selected. Also the organisation would need to look at the validity of the test in the specific industry of the client and ensure that the selected tool assesses the skills necessary to learn quickly and provide excellent customer service. If strategically and thoroughly pursued- A variety of dramatic results for several different client companies could be realised in the form of saving turnover costs; Reduced turnover; Lowered customer attrition; Reduced customer complaints; and saving in hiring costs per new hire group to name a few.

  6. Enhance performance greatly -
    Certain client organisations of BPO providers would want to ensure that it stands out among the competition for outstanding service. Hence such client organisation would look for exemplary services of a tele-services provider to serve as its ‘Customer Care’ function. The challenge for a BPO provider here would be to brand itself in a different way to attract and retain such clients and customers, and to ensure it hires and trains Customer Care representatives who will embody the brand image. The BPO provider could define customer service representative behaviours which not only ‘do the job’ and ‘need help’, but also those behaviours which exceed customer expectations. They could stand out by assessing candidates’ service, communication, multitasking and sales skills. While the tele-services vendor implements its own selection process, the client company takes comfort in the fact that it provides a final and accurate screen for selection of these key skills. They could also provide a reliable metric, through call monitoring, to measure the quality of calls. This metric could be used contractually to evaluate the call center vendor. This could see the BPO providing organisation and client company both gain consistently and significantly in quality and customer satisfaction.

  7. Increase ROI substantially -
    One of the paramount paradigms of a successful business is the Return on Investment (ROI) - The bottom line really for CEO’s. No business would want to see more going out than coming in- and this stands true for any Contact Center business too. Instituting a rigorous methodology that aligns an organisations people, processes and technology can decrease costs while reaping the benefits for an increased ROI. For example organisations could develop a strategy to reverse the trend of declining customer satisfaction and also develop a call monitoring tool that could provide a level of precision in anticipating customer satisfaction, so that the business would know that if call monitoring scores increased by X%, a Y% increase in customer satisfaction could be reasonably estimated.

The above seven steps are not exhaustive but would certainly enhance a ‘Contact Center’ organisations’ performance and save costs. This would result in a win-win situation where all stake holders are satisfied and remain in business.


Performix Performance Management


The global expansion of the customer service industry and the advancement in technology has significantly increased people?s expectations. It is therefore critical that your company meets all goals and embraces the latest software ideas. IEX Corporation has developed a programme known as Performix Performance Manager which will help you to considerably reduce administration time, allowing you to focus on your business needs.


The programme supplies businesses with an incorporated scorecard which helps with the consolidation process and reduces the amount of wasted paperwork. The scorecard details the performance records of all of your staff and also allows the employees themselves to monitor their performance records. Everybody can see whether or not they are meeting targets and the areas that they need to really focus on.


There are a number of different programmes included in this package which include the following:


Performix Development Manager: this allows you to include training teams in your performance figures. You can monitor the training process to see how the new recruits are getting on and which ones really stand out. This not only allows you a complete overview of your business, but also cuts down on training costs as your new employees can see for themselves how they are doing.


Performix Evaluation Manager: this programme will supply your company with online evaluation forms as well as reminders to those who have not filled theirs out. Your employees can download them and complete them when required. You can write your own questions and customise the entire process to your needs. You are able to retrieve any employees evaluation records at the touch of a button and this evaluation can be interlinked to performance records and annual appraisals.


Performix Recruiting Manager: this programme allows you to computerise, monitor and improve the entire hiring procedure. You will be able to ensure that only the right people get the job and maximise their potential again saving time and money. The Recruiting Manager makes the procedure of hiring new staff a lot quicker and more efficient. You can even sort out which candidates are not performing as well as they should within the first week by comparing their statistics with each other's and previous candidates.


Workforce Management System Integration: this management system will help you to install any new Performix programmes. You will be given access to information on TotalView which allows you to monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs). You will be able to synchronise information about each call centre agent and performance related information which like many of these programmes cuts down on the need for vast paper trails. You data will be a lot more accurate as well as easier to retrieve.


The benefits of Performix Performance Management are obvious and without it, you run the risk of your business falling behind others who invest in this latest technology. In today?s developing technological world, you can?t afford to have anything but the latest arrivals to help you streamline your business and cut costs. Performix have proven results and offer excellent solutions for all of your business needs.


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