Special Report - Operations & Fulfillment: Rethink Your (Web-Influenced) Call Center
Now comes the double whammy: Which reps are best able to handle these more complicated recovery calls and e-mails? Probably the ones who have excellent skills and enough experience to know what to do. So those interactions cost more because they take longer and have to be handled by longer-tenured and, presumably, higher-paid employees.
These longer-tenured reps are also more likely to have special assignments or sideline ops jobs because they’re trusted and know the most. This sort of multiple assignment slows their production even further.
The operation incurs “switching expense” as they go back and forth from one assignment to another.
Staff retention is usually a positive, but higher pay, based on either length of service or special assignments, encourages people to stick around, creating an escalating spiral in cost — unless you institute wage caps. Also, work tends to fill the time available; people tend to justify their own presence by being busy.
How can you get a modicum of control over payroll costs in the contact center in this Web-dominated age? Try the equivalent of zero-based budgeting for your staffing plan.
Start by analyzing where those payroll dollars actually go — to which specific tasks and process steps. In many contact centers, a variety of nonoperations, ancillary functions accumulate over time. Examples include screening marketing lists for a variety of customer characteristics or data difficulties, or proofing catalog or Web copy. Perhaps the related payroll dollars should be charged to the department that’s the source and beneficiary of the task.
Then explore the operations sideline tasks your more tenured reps actually do, whether they’re dealing with back orders, credit problems or helping peer-based training. Are they allocating their time both accurately and effectively? Review whether performance standards for both call handling and side tasks are being met, and consider whether the standards should be more rigorous.