Contact Centers-3 Questions for Future Strategies (1,421 words)
- Measure and report the appropriate customer service metrics, for example, percentage of calls answered in 20 seconds or less, call-abandonment rates and average time in queue.
- Implement call-monitoring processes to help CSRs improve their skills in what inevitably is an ever-changing and increasingly complex business environment.
- Improve product training. Multi-title businesses and large SKU breadth often make the job of answering customers' queries a difficult one. Prior to the catalog mailing, have your merchants offer to the contact-center staffers product demonstrations on new items.
- Offer more training on systems, procedures and company policies. Many companies give only a couple of weeks training before putting new-hires on the phone. But some CSRs need more training before you let them loose in your contact center.
In the chart, the call-to-order line for the three companies that we studied ranged from 1.8 to 2. An efficient ratio might be closer to 1.5. There's a considerable expense in servicing non-order calls.
Do an analysis of your catalog's call-to-order ratio to determine causes for things such as back-orders, operational problems (e.g., damaged shipments, billing errors), unclear creative or copy, catalog requests, and queries about returns. What programs can you use to reduce them? Today's technologies can help, but like fulfillment operations, call centers will remain largely a labor-intensive business.
Without taking into account shipping fees, about 50 percent of the total cost per order can be attributed to contact-center costs. About half of the fully loaded total cost of an order, then, is direct labor. Other costs include indirect management, telecommunications, tenancy and cost of credit processing. After you've negotiated the best rates for these other costs, direct labor will be the largest expense you can affect on a daily basis.
Because labor will be at the heart of your contact center in the future, determine if your management and technology usage boost your contact center's productivity. Following are tactics some contact-center managers employ: