Call Center Management on Fast Forward

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Hi Brad, I was wondering if you have any general statistics around call center volumes, average hold time, etc. I'm curious to understand how many total minutes/hours of time U.S. consumers spend on hold per day. Do you have any rough estimates? Thanks!

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This is a very interesting (fun!) question, but because there is no consolidated method for collecting wait time statistics, the answer should be considered speculative. In the U.S., there are an estimated 35 billion agent-assisted interactions per year, the overwhelming majority being phone (some are email, social and other channels, which have varying response times). A common service level target is 80 percent answer in 20 seconds, equating to an average speed of answer of 10 to 15 seconds. This is a target, and some organizations perform better and some far worse. Using 15 seconds ASA, we can estimate that Americans spend a combined 146,000,000 hours on hold annually, or about 400,000 hours on hold each day. That's the equivalent of 46 years, daily.

What’s your favorite part of the book?

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That's tough to answer, because like so many others in our profession, I enjoy the diversity in disciplines that contact centers require. I suppose my favorite chapters are 1 (the beginning) and 17 (the conclusion), as they give a read on the landscape, a quick summation of everything in between.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

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Our industry is in transition right now, with new channels, e.g., those through social, being added, customer expectations evolving dramatically, etc. The phone is still the dominant form of communication in most centers, and the terms we’ve always used and that are prevalent in system reports (e.g., talk time, after call work et al.) make less intuitive sense when discussing, say, Twitter or Facebook. So straddling two worlds — what we have and where we’re quickly going — was interesting and took a lot of thought and work. It’s our hope that readers can apply the content, wherever they are on the development continuum, and also gain a clear vision of where things are going.

What about sourcing in your book? I am doing a research on call center implementation overseas as well as their tasks and missions. I have just bought your book and I am still in the process of reading it. Could you please put me on the right way? Which part to focus on more in your book.

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Thanks for your question. This book is written for any type of call center (contact center), and covers strategy, planning, operations, and metrics needed in any type of environment. For a quick understanding of higher level mission and strategy, I'd look at Chapters 1, 2, 10, 13 and 17. The other chapters provide operational support. I hope this helps, and good luck!

Who should read this book?

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It’s my hope that anyone who works in, manages, oversees, supports or is in an area impacted by a contact center will find the book helpful. Specific roles include:

  • Executive VPs, VPs, Directors
  • Call center managers, supervisors and analysts
  • Marketing executives
  • Consumer affairs or corporate communications officers
  • Consultants and suppliers
  • Agents who would like to move into supervision and management roles
  • C-level leadership, who wants a grounding in what the call center is and does, and the value it should be producing.

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