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Contact Center Processes - Best Pratices


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Call Centers remain the crucial touch point in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). To help companies win additional customers and market share, they must give customers superior service while delivering measurable business value at low cost. Optimizing operational processes – in addition to customer delivery processes – helps call centers meet these goals. This paper describes how organizations can use this approach to achieve “Top Box” performance in customer delight while significantly reducing costs and improving enterprise competitiveness.

Contact Center Processes - Best Pratices

  1. 1. viewpoint paper >> Contact Centers Improving Contact Centers Through Operational Processes Contact centers remain the crucial touchpoint in customer relationship management. To help their companies win additional customers and market share, they must give customers superior service while delivering measurable business value at low cost. Optimizing operational processes – in addition to customer delivery processes – helps contact centers meet these goals. This paper describes how organizations can use this approach to achieve “top box” performance in customer delight while significantly reducing costs and improving enter- prise competitiveness.
  2. 2. Table of Contents Introduction 1 Operational process view 1 Operational processes – best practices linkage 2 The processes 3 Contact center planning 3 Employee retention and growth 4 Operational management 7 Customer contact management 8 Making it happen 9 Size and scope 10 Challenges 10 Technology options and opportunities 10 Results 11 Success story: leading U.S. newspaper 12 Conclusion 12 About the author 13 Author Brian Hughes Manager EDS BPO Customer Interaction
  3. 3. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper Introduction Is your contact center performing in ways that maximize profitability and market share for your business? Sharply reducing costs and improving employee satisfaction are important success factors. The ultimate goal, though, is to delight your customers – and win more of them as a result. Yet in today’s environment, these goals seem to compete with each other. Employees fear layoffs, offshoring and frozen salaries; managers face increasing client expectations with diminishing resources and budgets. To meet their objectives, contact center organizations have focused primarily only on customer delivery processes such as handling customer requests and initiating contacts. Through our work with clients, EDS has discovered that another area – operational processes – demands equal attention. These processes are often twice as numerous as delivery processes, and thus have a significant impact on the business. In fact, operational processes are the “infrastructure” that supports the business, client care and customer delight. Specifically, it’s crucial to ensure that the same operational processes and tools are used both within individual contact centers and across all sites. By implementing such optimized, globally consistent delivery – and clearly measuring processes quantitatively and qualitatively – you can achieve your goals. Operational process view Figure . Process diagram We divide operational processes and associated measures into four categories: planning, retention and growth, operational management, and customer contact man- agement. (See Figure 1.) These categories drive one another as a cycle. Within each category, there are a series of Planning specific, linked processes with associated tasks and steps that should be defined and managed as a set. Investing the time to identify the tasks and steps within each category – and connecting or driving Customer Processes performance measures from the tasks Contact and steps – provides the power of full optimization. Management Retention Growth Operational Management
  4. 4. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper successful contact centers that focus on The processes shown in the model should Operational processes – operating within budgetary allocations be a starting point for every contact center. best practices linkage while ensuring employee care. Top box The model is not “one size fits all,” though. Figure 2 depicts how to link operational customer service is still the primary driver Your organization may require additional processes (and related customer delivery for success, and the idea is that satisfied processes for its industry- or business-specific processes) to achieve top box performance employees satisfy their clients. needs. And there are alternatives for optimizing with low cost. It also shows, at a high level, processes. For example, your organization how a successful contact center functions. EDS has 24 patents pending for the opera- may decide not to implement a student tional support processes (shown in Figure 2 intern program or an internal help desk By formalizing, documenting and optimizing as dark blue boxes). staffed by high performers. operational processes through this model, EDS has discovered the key for creating Figure . Operational processes — best practices linkage Career Planning and Leadership Development Change Management Training (Agent, Supervisor, Manager, Client Partnership Model) Capacity Planning Recognition Project Link to RS And Management Compensation occurs only Appreciation and Benefits Workload when first Placement staffing CC – all other, link to WFM Resource/ Promotion/ Contingency Job Change Balanced Life Planning Performance Account Acclimation Performance Recruiting/ Work Force Eval-Scorecard and Management Selection Management Quality Separation/ Training Program Monitoring Admin. Exit Student Intern Performance Part-time Improvement Earned Headcount Budget Customer Interaction Management Service Client Financial Customer Customer Escalation Level (SLA) Contact Transaction Delight Legend: Survey Management Management Processing Light blue box = Deliver (directly and consistent touching customers) Dark blue box = Support (necessary operations Customer indirectly or infrequently Inquiry touching customers) Management Employee Quality Assurance and Management Survey
  5. 5. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper reducing costs, the processes listed in The processes Contact center planning Table 1 can also yield improvements in Based upon EDS’ experience, organizations Following are detailed descriptions of the service levels and your ability to meet can realize significant cost reductions – four categories of operational processes. For customers’ other requirements. potentially up to 50 percent ROI – by each category, we’ve included definitions of optimizing contact center planning. While the related processes and the benefits you can receive by optimizing them. Table . Contact center planning Process name Definition Benefits Capacity Planning • Provides profile of organizational staffing • Decreases costs through effective planning requirements based on strategic business • Delivers costs savings of up to 10% (based on EDS forecasts experience and EDS/A.T. Kearney contact center • Considers staff required to offset turnover, satisfy optimization benchmarking) increasing volumes and support new initiatives Workload Placement • Provides management of call/contact volume • Reduces staffing costs by balancing workloads load balancing among contact centers across sites • Delivers savings of 5%–15% (EDS’ conservative estimate) Work Force Management • Enables matching work schedules to staffing • Decreases salary costs through efficient staffing requirements based upon workload (contact • Delivers 10%–25% savings (estimate by EDS and volume) and forecasting, including intraday our partners based on use of revised business management processes with supporting technologies) Earned Headcount Budget (EHB) • Enables preapproved hiring ability and account- • Improves staffing efficiency by reducing staff ability at the site level, matching headcount with approval time, ensuring sites are staffed appro- volume forecasts. priately and allowing sites to react quickly to new • Facilitates local leaders managing appropriate client demands or add-on business agent productivity at the account level • Contributes to Work Force Management savings • Illustrates whether staffing levels are appropriate (see above) (at the business level) Recruiting and Selection • Enables consistent recruiting and selection prac- • Improves quality by providing qualified candi- tices, from profiling the candidate requirements dates as quickly as possible to preparing for the applicant to start work • Improves performance by reducing performance • Provides several job aids and checklists, and problems and attrition electronic résumé collection Resource and Contingency Planning • Facilitates identification of staffing strategies to • Optimizes productivity results by developing achieve customer expectations contingencies and alternatives for staffing peaks • Encompasses strategic and tactical work force • Contributes to Work Force Management savings management (see above) Student Intern, Part-time Planning • Provides guidance for managing employees who • Reduces salary expense by ensuring staffing peaks do not work full time or are working for academic will be covered by co-ops and part-time agents credit and/or experience • Develops a pipeline of talented resources for • Provides guidelines for skills development, future employment consideration supervisor attention and management for this • Delivers 1%–3% savings (EDS estimate) group of employees
  6. 6. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper Table 2 lists the processes that fall within Employee retention and growth the employee retention and growth cat- Attrition rates of 40–90 percent per year egory and the benefits of optimizing them. make retaining and developing staff a high priority for most contact centers. Table . Employee retention and growth Process name Definition Benefits Acclimation and Training — New Agent Essential • Provides collateral and skills for orienting new • Reduces attrition and improves measurable Skills Program agents, their customers and their jobs performance expectations by reducing ramp-up • Can combine with sites’ current best training time for new agents practices • Provides employees with management support • Improves skills and personal growth Career Planning to identify career opportunities and plan their • Promotes employee satisfaction and increases desired career path, and leaders with an retention opportunity to refine leadership skills • Increases retention by improving skills and • Facilitates coaching in identifying employees’ career goal motivation desired career path • Motivates contact center employees to improve their skills, continue their education and cross-train • Provides an apprenticeship program for non- • Reduces attrition and improves employee satis- Leadership Development Program (LDP) supervisory employees so they can determine faction by offering high-potential employees an whether a supervisory role is a career interest opportunity to learn management responsibilities • Provides a pool of experienced candidates for with guidance supervisory roles • Provides training curriculum and delivery method • Equips supervisors with performance and Training — Supervisor for acclimating and training contact center coaching skills needed to align agents’ skills and delivery employees at the supervisory level knowledge to organizational goals • Continues support to further develop knowledge, • Reduces time required to reach performance skills and abilities around a set of identified expectations requirements • Increases average calls handled over time • Includes training for soft skills, contact handling/ • Reduces/controls turnover processing and systems support, as well as selective training to introduce new initiatives (systems, procedures and projects) • Provides curriculum and delivery methods • Assists managers in translating broad business Training — Manager for acclimation and other training at the objectives into day-to-day targeted action that manager level aligns with business needs and client expectations Training — Client Partnership Model • Provides training in partnership and win-win • Improves customer retention and satisfaction conflict management techniques through a proactive, consultative leadership style • Enables leaders to introduce best practices to their clients, and partner with them in a con- sultative manner, so they can provide best-in-class service offerings together
  7. 7. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper Table . Employee retention and growth (continued) Process name Definition Benefits Performance Evaluation and Quality Monitoring • Ensures adherence to established processes, pro- • Reduces administrative time and expenses cedures and customer service standards based • Satisfies customer and contractual obligations on customer service level agreements and other contractual obligations Performance Evaluation (Scorecard) • Measures employee performance based on • Ensures consistent performance in meeting client defined performance metrics obligations • Facilitates leader’s ability to provide feedback, • Facilitates consistent and focused feedback rewards and recognition, and coaching to employees on performance, using industry standard metrics for contact center excellence and client SLAs Quality Monitoring • Facilitates monitoring and evaluating work • Optimizes agent performance through coaching performance of agents, recording calls and data and identification of opportunities for reward and transactions, and providing feedback to agents recognition • Provides an objective, external viewpoint • Improves performance against service level standards and customer expectations Performance Management Program • Provides a measurement and feedback program • Reduces expense and administration time specifically focused on agent performance through a streamlined process • Facilitates consistency between scorecards • Improves employee satisfaction through consistent and agent performance management program and focused performance management measurements • Rolls up monthly performance data into an annual performance report for agents Recognition and Appreciation • Provides structure for developing a program to • Promotes achievement of business goals by recognize employees’ achievements recognizing desired results • Includes a database of creative ideas from all • Capitalizes on sharing ideas between sites sites for activities Balanced Life Account • Provides common procedures and tools that • Encourages agents to manage their own time off assist employees in managing their time off effectively • Reduces attrition by offering solutions to agents who may need help managing their time Performance Improvement • Provides guidelines to assist leaders in • Facilitates early recognition and documentation consistently addressing problem performance, of problems attendance and/or misconduct by employees • Provides uniform method to conduct improvement plans
  8. 8. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper Table . Employee retention and growth (continued) Process name Definition Benefits Compensation • Enables contact centers to incent and reward • Supports focus on business goals employees with more frequent merit and • Increases retention and improves morale through performance-based increases through a pay-for- competitive pay practices and pay-for-performance performance strategy • Ensures competitive wage structure explored • Provides various differentials for special skills, • Continues to improve morale and attrition accomplishments and work schedules • Supports discussions of wages and nonwage compensation for employees • Can comprise base salary, bonus/incentives, stocks/ bonds and benefits in the form of health/welfare, time away from work and retirement plans Benefits • Provides employee benefits on par with market • Reduces expenses for employees and the business best practices • Improves satisfaction and retention of management • Allows employees and business to pay only for and nonexempt employees benefits they use • Allows benefits for part-time employees Promotion/Job Change • Offers change in job responsibilities to provide • Enables employees to change jobs for variety or if growth opportunities they are not performing well in one area • Addresses upward advancement in career ladder • Ensures eligibility for promotion tied to with increased responsibilities performance • Retains employees and helps employees find a satisfying work environment Separation — Administrative Exit • Provides procedures and guidelines for managing • Ensures consistency in management of separations voluntary or involuntary separation of an employee • Provides data on reasons for leaving — used to reduce further attrition • Allows for analysis and action plans for negative trends
  9. 9. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper processes and tools in this category enables Operational management consistency, quality and cost control. Operational management is the third Table 3 lists the processes that fall within category that yields high results. Imple- operational management and the benefits menting and maintaining standardized of optimization. Table . Operational management Process name Definition Benefits Change Management • Provides a framework, methodologies and • Reduces costs by enabling contact centers to training for managing operational and system focus on and effectively manage change changes • Reduces attrition through a controlled approach to managing change Project Management • Provides a formalized process and training to • Reduces costs through a consistent, prescribed manage a project within the contact center project management methodology Client Contract Management • Manages contracts between business and • Develops consistency between centers that provider of services provide service to the same client • Can be between multiple contact centers within • Builds client satisfaction a business and the associated business units, or between the business and a service provider Service Level Management • Establishes, manages and monitors service level • Ensures contractual obligations are met, measurements for customer satisfaction (e.g., facilitating long-term relationships with clients 80% of calls resolved in 30 seconds) • Improves customer satisfaction Quality Assurance and Management • Provides a framework and structure for implementing • Improves consistency and quality through Customer Operations Performance Center (COPC) compliance with COPC standards standards and certification when required Employee Survey Administration • Provides a process for measuring employee • Reduces attrition and improves employee and engagement and satisfaction by effectively customer satisfaction managing the Voice of the Employee survey • Facilitates development of plans to address process negative responses
  10. 10. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper These customer contact management Customer contact management processes are listed in Table 4. Customer contact management, the fourth category of operational processes, includes customer delivery processes. Table . Customer contact management Process name Definition Benefits Customer Interaction Management • Defines and manages customer interaction • Ensures contractual obligations are met through to create and enhance the desired customer quality scores and resolution on first contact experience • Improves customer satisfaction • Includes training on tone of voice, empathy, • Reduces customer attrition timeliness, etc. Financial Transaction Processing • Uses organizational infrastructure and change • Builds consistency between centers that service management strategies to fulfill customer requests, the same client perform research and execute required transactions Customer Inquiry Management • Addresses working with customers to handle • Provides quick resolution in a customer-focused inquiries and service requests, ordering and manner problem resolution • Immediately routes contacts that need additional • Supports incoming and outgoing contacts expertise for resolution • Identifies appropriate routing strategy to eliminate customer frustration • Ensures request resolution by performing required services or redirecting to appropriate resources Escalation Process Structure (internal) • Provides process for agents to seek advice on • Provides process to evaluate trends and develop requests without sending all escalations to plans to address deficiencies supervisors or managers • Reduces need for management escalation and • Provides an internal help desk driven by service improves customer satisfaction through efficient levels, available 100% of the time, staffed with resolution of requests leadership development program candidates • Facilitates tracking of complaints to offer and/or high performers continuous improvement opportunities • Provides job growth opportunities for high- potential agents Service Level Agreement (SLA) Management • Establishes, manages and monitors service level • Ensures contractual obligations are met, facilitating measurements for customer satisfaction (e.g., long-term relationships with clients 80% of calls resolved in 30 seconds) • Improves customer satisfaction Customer Survey • Provides survey instruments to obtain valid • Facilitates performance benchmarking opinions and fulfillment data from customers • Enables leaders to address deficiencies and build on their interaction experience new offerings • Improves customer satisfaction Customer Delight • Establishes and monitors metrics for customer • Facilitates quantitative and qualitative measurements satisfaction based upon performance management related to customer satisfaction objectives and quality monitoring
  11. 11. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper provides the flexibility for organizations business-specific needs. Most important, Making it happen to adjust procedure tasks and steps based it enables your contact center to achieve a EDS recommends a structured, four-stage upon regional laws and regulations, culture of high performance while control- approach for optimizing operational contractual deliverables, or industry-/ ling costs. processes. (See Figure 3.) This approach Figure . Four-stage approach for contact center optimization Stage Objective Prioritize the management processes that create customer, employee and shareholder value Define, Measure, Benchmark the high-priority operations Analyze Develop gap assessment for the high-priority management processes Define three reasonable solution alternatives that align with operations strategy and bridge the gaps Define Solution Determine the “best fit” solution from among the three alternatives Build the implementation plan for the “best fit” solution Plan Implementation Build and present the business case for implementation Build a transition plan, focusing upon gaps and organizational change management activities Implement new processes with a strong training and communications program Implement Solution Measure change and identify barriers to success Remove barriers to success Ensure mandatory yearly audits to verify compliance Measurable Improvements in Customer Delight, Employee Satisfaction and Productivity
  12. 12. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper Size and scope Technology options and opportunities Process challenges include: • Lack of formally documented and All contact centers, regardless of size or People are obliged to spend time and defined processes number of sites, should focus upon optimizing money maintaining a new car engine to • Undefined or underdefined accountabilities the operational processes we’ve described. ensure it a longer, more efficient life; in for the processes The center’s relative size and complexity the same way, companies should invest in do, however, help determine how long the technology that makes it easier to maintain • Unidentified process owners and optimization project takes and what and improve the redesigned processes. subject-matter experts resources are required. • Inability to obtain appropriate time and Numerous software programs and vendors attention from the process subject- In most cases, a single-site, single-customer, support a majority of the operational matter experts single-language contact center can complete processes. Organizations need to determine the job in only three–six months and with their “pain points,” the amount of support- Technology challenges include: two–six dedicated resources. A multiple-site ing technology they can afford, and their • Lack of systems and tools to support center that supports many customers and highest-priority items. the processes languages might need nine–12 months and One of the biggest impacts can come from a • Lack of skills to develop appropriate 10–20 resources. In all cases, project duration work force management system. Automating systems and tools depends in part on contact center readiness – many aspects of work force management – how close the sites are to optimization and To manage these challenges effectively, such as forecasting, planning and scheduling how ready they are to embrace change. it’s essential to ensure that rigorous components (with shift allocations) – organizational change management and significantly reduces manual errors and project management practices are in place time to reforecast. Challenges and followed. Other technology options include quality Challenges fall into three categories – assurance and scorecard evaluating software, people, processes and technologies. The as well as systems that support the appropri- most challenging aspect of any project is ate training and education environment. managing people through the change. Each organization should evaluate its People challenges include: needs, priorities and budget allocations. • Resistance to change This will help determine which supporting • Lack of sponsorship for the change tools and technology to invest in first. • Backlash against a command-and- control approach • Lack of compliance to change • Undefined or underdefined accountabilities for the change • Inappropriate depth and breadth of communications • Difficulty in obtaining commitment to change – from the contact center senior leadership down to the supervisor level 0
  13. 13. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper Results Direct results of implementing these Indirect results include: processes are: • Targeted, skilled work force Research documents significant quantifiable • Reduced negative (or unwanted) attrition and qualitative benefits of moving to rigorous, • Improved planned attrition standardized and optimized operational • Increased revenue • Improved client satisfaction processes. The experience of EDS and our • Improved service levels alliance partners shows that full optimization • Improved employee satisfaction of work force management and contact • Increased work force productivity Figure 4 depicts the cost elements and center planning processes can reduce contact • Reduced shrinkage – or wasted time related objectives that drive the need for center costs by 25–50 percent. We’ve also process optimization – as well as the perfor- found that high attrition (the primary burden mance improvement goal you can achieve on almost all contact centers) can be reduced once the transformation is complete. to best-in-class numbers … if all these operational processes are implemented and managed. Figure . Transformation to optimized operational processes Transform the contact center to ensure Performance customer delight while delivering superior Improvement business value at an acceptable cost level Goal Objectives Reinvest cost savings/ ROI for Trim current operations improvements to business costs Enable rapid continuous Deliver Standardize practices/ Reduce Cost improvement/redesign services tools for cross-contact- attrition Element to meet customer and efficiently center leveragability business needs
  14. 14. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper • With appropriate support processes Success story: leading U.S. newspaper (including training, quality, contingency Recently, a leading U.S. newspaper’s planning, scorecard and performance advertising contact center faced a discon- improvement processes), outbound tinuous production cycle for the placement contact volume increased 16% without of employment ads in the newspaper. The any increase in the employee base. contact center’s operational processes were • Return on investment is approximately breaking down due to large production cycle $500,000 annually. spikes and crisis-management activities. As a result, advertisements were not being produced quickly with full quality reviews. Conclusion The newspaper kept trying to change the To achieve excellence and maximize operational processes to address the problems, profitability, a contact center business but with minimal effect. It was difficult to depends upon its people to function as a measure success – and all parties couldn’t single team focused on a common goal. agree on the best approach. That takes consistent performance by each individual and site. Implementing an The contact center then teamed with EDS. operational process model ensures consis- Based on our joint review of current tency and “institutionalized excellence” in processes, we recommended process, customer delight, employee satisfaction procedural and technology improvements and productivity, which in turn drive profits. aimed at resolving the problems. Through high-level business process reengineering, the team provided a detailed baseline of the current environment, identified quick hits and made radical recommendations for streamlining business operations. We then implemented the recommendations and measured their success in the contact center environment. The results? EDS’ services and support helped the contact center achieve measur- able business improvements: • Quality reviews reduced adjustments from 1% to less than 0.3% of revenue. • Implementation of appropriate training, organizational redesign and work force management cut after-hours contact- request processing from 98% each day to less than 2% – eliminating the need for any temporary staff. • Immediate confirmation of advertising details, information received and a quote for advertising space improved dramatically – from 3–5% to 99%.
  15. 15. contact centers EDS viewpoint paper About the author Brian Hughes Brian Hughes manages the process and train- ing team in EDS CRM Service Delivery. He is responsible for development, design and deployment of contact center procedures, processes and best practices in workplace learning for the customer relationship management market. Prior to joining EDS in 2002, Brian had more than 20 years’ experience in managing contact centers and serving on corporate contact center project support staffs for two major industry leaders, JCPenney and Alliance Data Systems. Hughes’ teams have reduced operating costs and increased profitability and growth while standardizing operational activities to ensure market competitiveness. Contact Brian Hughes Manager, EDS BPO Customer Interaction Process and Training Team A1-1E-24 5400 Legacy Drive Plano, Texas 75024-3199 972 604 6544
  16. 16. About EDS EDS (NYSE: EDS) is a leading global technology services company delivering business solutions to its clients. EDS founded the information technology outsourcing industry more than 40 years ago. Today, EDS delivers a broad portfolio of information technology and business process outsourcing services to clients in the manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, communications, energy, transportation, and consumer and retail industries and to governments around the world. Learn more at Contact us Corporate Headquarters United States 5400 Legacy Drive Plano, Texas 75024 USA 1 800 566 9337 Regional Headquarters Asia Canada Latin America 36F, Shanghai Information Tower 33 Yonge Street Avenida Presidente Juscelino 211 Century Avenue Toronto, Ontario Kubitschek, 1830 Pudong, Shanghai M5E 1G4 5th Floor – Tower 4 China 200120 Canada 04543-900 86 21 2891 2888 1 416 814 4500 São Paulo 1 800 814 9038 Brazil Australia and New Zealand (in Canada only) 55 11 3707 4100 Level 1, The Bond Europe, Middle East 30 Hickson Road and Africa Millers Point New South Wales 2000 2nd Floor Australia Lansdowne House 612 9025 0777 Berkeley Square London W1J 6ER 44 20 7569 5100 EDS. Technology services. Business solutions. We help clients improve their systems and processes so they can become more productive, manage change and grow. EDS and the EDS logo are registered trademarks of Electronic Data Systems Corporation. All other brand or product names are trademarks or registered marks of their respective owners. EDS is an equal opportunity employer and values the diversity of its people. Copyright © 2006 Electronic Data Systems Corporation. All rights reserved. 07/2006 5GCPH5522