Call centers have lots of numbers. Tons of metrics. If you like to measure or monitor things, you’ll love call centers! What other department do you know of in an organization that captures and audits employee activities nearly every second of their shift? I mean can you imagine telling an IT Specialist or Marketing Analyst that they are out of adherence? Or that they need to wake 6 more minutes to take a break? Or reminding them that they only have 9 minutes of “discretionary time” each day?
Ok, I know numbers are important. I realize that in the call center world seconds can easily equate to a significant amount of cost, and in no way am I suggesting we shouldn’t monitor and measure things in a call center. What I am suggesting is that we should be careful to not let the goals become more important than the reason we set them.
Lets think about some goals. I’ll list the first one that come to mind…
Service Level – % of calls answered in X seconds.
A very important goal. How often do you hear someone asking “What’s our service level?” in a call center? I wonder if there is a goal for how often that should be asked!
Well here’s my question. How often do you review your service level objective to access the value of it? I mean it is an important number for budgeting headcount and creating schedules. It’s supposed to help ensure most customers have a decent experience when waiting for a person to help them. But is it working for you? I can’t tell you how many startup call centers set this at 80/20 because that is the “industry standard”. Well there is no industry standard for service level. Should a tech support call center share the same service level as a reservation or appointment setting center?
And then we can also ask is your service level goal for every hour? Every day? The week or moth even? So how does that help the customer experience during the “gap” times of the goal? Especially in centers where its a monthly goal…
I recently worked with a company that had a 50 seat center 2 years ago and 1 product they supported. Now they have 200 agents and 11 different products. They were missing service level objectives and tried adjusting schedules and increasing headcount to hit the goal.
We decided to do a little discovery before they hired more people and found they could actually hit a 70/30 goal without increasing headcount. We did a lot of CDM related research and determined this had little impact to the customer experience. Saved the company the additional cost of headcount and allowed them to keep pricing low for their customers and remain competitive in the marketplace.
So I encourage you to take a look at your goals. Want an easy litmus test to see if a goal has become more important than its purpose in your organizational? Tell your manager you’re thing about changing your service level goal!
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Scott O. Thomas
Senior Partner @ TPC
Customers @ Your Service!