Innovations in technology let you achieve customer service goals
Call Center Capacity Overrides Quality
Often times mid-sized or boutique call centers provided excellent service and agent talent; however, they lacked the capacity to handle the client’s customer service traffic. This factor weighed heavily in call center selection process, resulting in call center capacity criteria overriding quality. Agent availability is a critical component but should not be the most important factor when creating the optimal customer service environment.
Sophisticated Routing was Unachievable
Adding to the quality issue was lack of routing sophistication. Conceivably, one could network three or four calls centers to secure capacity, but the issue became how to efficiently route calls to an available agent. Carrier abilities are limited to static call allocation. The result? Calls were allocated to one center, running at capacity, resulting in long hold-times; while other call centers had agents available.
A secondary problem from limited call routing capabilities was proficient agent utilization. I define this term as “the ability to utilize the best agents across multiple call centers for each call type in order of priority and availability.” This is very important when optimizing the customer experience.
High Costs of Dynamic Call Routing
Cost-effective call delivery became the next inhibitor to achieving the best customer service environment. Routing calls across a multi-call center environment required additional costs per transaction, in the form of per-call charge or paying for two legs of a long distance call. If one would have dynamically routed calls to agents in multiple sites, the cost to achieve this became prohibitive compared to the value.
Training Inconsistency Resulted from Multiple Centers
Lack of scripting and training consistency made using multiple centers challenging as well. Each call center had a different scripting or CRM platform. For any content or procedural change, the management process between multiple sites, the cost for multiple programming changes, and the delay in getting all centers implemented on their separate systems was too cumbersome.
No Apples-to-Apples Comparisons
Reporting was the final inhibitor. Each center had a unique telephony switch, reporting system and methodology. Performance comparisons were difficult, time consuming and useless.
The end result: quality call centers, multi-call center strategies, and quality agents were passed over in favor single call center efficiency. Fortunately, the landscape has changed.
Changing the Landscape
Economical Multiple Call Center Networking
VoIP has arrived, bringing with it the ability to network multiple call centers at an affordable cost. Three or four years ago, you paid $0.25 to $.50 per call in additional costs. Today, you can route calls through a private VoIP circuit from a centralized switch for less than a penny. This represents a fraction of previous costs, and more importantly, the private VoIP technology service levels now match traditional mechanisms. [pullquote class=”pull-right span3″]A network combining boutique, mid-sized and mega call centers, dramatically expands the universe of top quality agents available for every customer service call[/pullquote]
Sophisticated Dynamic Call Routing
Dynamic call routing has replaced traditional static call allocation models. Today’s technology integrates telephony switches with database tools allowing instant identification and decision making as to what agents, and what centers are available to receive calls, by performance and call type. This integration of voice and data technology allows companies to build a network of separate call centers all united under one cost-effective routing platform.
Web-based Services Result in Integrated Scripting
The next innovation is web-based CRM and scripting packages offered as powerful software as a service (SaaS) packages. With this infrastructure, a network of independent call centers can be integrated under one uniform scripting package, providing scripting consistency across all agents, the ability to implement immediate script changes in a centralized environment, and uniformity of all business practices in the customer service environment.
The technology that integrates telephony switches provides apples-to-apples comparisons to judge performance by center and by agent, as well.
Companies are raising the bar when delivering customer service, and advanced technology is providing opportunities to achieve higher standards of quality. More than ever, companies realize the importance of their teleservices environment to their brand image, customer retention and future sales. In future articles, we will provide further insight and specific case studies outlining the strategies and impact driving increases to the key performance indicators in the customer service environment.
David Schreck, CEO of Intelemedia Communications
David is President and CEO of Intelemedia. Intelemedia offers a new breed of call center services by combining industry-leading technology with a platform uniting top performing agents from multiple call center companies. Since 1993, Intelemedia has developed elegant telephony and database solutions for the call center industry that transform how organizations more effectively manage call handling and caller experience within their customer service and sales acquisition environments. His wealth of experience integrating technology, sound business processes, and strategic sourcing is the driving force to the success of Intelemedia’s call center applications. David’s approach to “client-centric” teams focused on understanding and meeting customer needs has created a track record of developing high demand products. Prior to joining Intelemedia in 2001, David spent 16 years with Moore Corporation where he established Moore’s industry-leading national strategic print management outsourcing unit. In addition, he led the company’s initial thrust into e-business, successfully introducing electronic forms as a high growth and viable business within the printed form industry.
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