Published: July 10, 2013 | Comments (1)
Most call center executives are faced with the same expectation: do it better and do it cheaper.
Historically, one of the most common responses to this demand has been to cut labor costs by using a mix of full-time, part-time, at-home, near shore and off-shore agents. But this can be a risky move.
Managing agents across multiple locations and environments can be tricky, with quality and the overall customer experience ultimately at stake. Is it possible to create a diverse agent population capable of delivering a consistent customer experience that drives customer loyalty, not customer churn?
Multi-sourcing: The real deal
Labor accounts for around 70 percent of a contact center’s total costs.
Typically, to significantly reduce labor costs, executives can either in-source all calls and use a mix of full-time, part-time and temporary agents, or they can outsource calls to at-home agents and contracted outsourcers both in the U.S. and abroad. Most centers today use a combination of labor sources, or what is called “multi-sourcing.”
A more diverse agent population can result in a more inconsistent customer experience. Generally speaking, full-time agents working in the physical call center receive the most consistent training and coaching and therefore have the opportunity to deliver the best customer service. But they are also the most expensive. And as the business grows, this type of agent population requires more physical space – another huge expense.
Part-time and at-home agents enable a company to expand its operations without having to scale its physical facilities, but they are difficult to manage remotely and scheduling enough training and coaching to ensure that they are delivering a consistent customer experience is a major challenge.
Off-shore outsourced agents, though the least expensive labor, present the biggest challenge due to communication issues that can negatively impact customer service. In addition to language and cultural barriers, outsourced agents tend to receive less knowledge about a company’s products, services and processes.
These service and performance challenges can ultimately cancel out the labor savings when they result in poor customer service and customer churn.
Multiple agent types, one customer experience
Multi-sourcing can work, with the right structure.
The key is creating a cost-effective solution that provides consistency in communications across all agent segments and ensures the customer experience is protected no matter who answers the phone.
The most successful centers using segmented agent populations are those that truly integrate all agents – from at-home agents to those working off-shore – into their business and treat them as part of the company. There is a consistent training delivery mechanism in place across all agent segments, and off-shore agents are given the same tools and resources as full-time employees.
Intraday management technology enables executives to increase the frequency of training and coaching to agents whether they are in the physical center or across the ocean by using a naturally occurring resource in every center -- idle time. Instead of competing for priority with (and losing to) service level commitments, these important tasks are delivered only when the time is right. When call volume naturally drops and agents are sitting idle, individualized training, coaching and other off-phone work is pushed directly to the agent desktop. If call volume spikes, agents are automatically prompted to return to answering calls so that service levels are not negatively affected.
As agents increase their skills and competencies, intraday queue management immediately updates queue associations to better align agent competencies to customer needs, no matter where they sit or how often their skills change.
Agents receive the training, communications and ongoing coaching they need to be effective, and automated reskilling makes complex queues with multi-channel, multi-sourced agents easier to manage. When customers can always reach a knowledgeable agent, well-versed to handle their inquiries – regardless of whether that agent is across town or across the globe, the result is a more consistent customer experience overall.
Intradiem, formerly Knowlagent, is the leader in intraday management solutions for contact centers. Intradiem equips our customers with business reflexes that immediately and consistently respond to unpredictable events and conditions. Reflexes such as intraday task management, intraday staffing, queue management, and real-time alerts improve business performance by over 20 percent. More than 450,000 contact center, field service, retail, bank branch, and back office employees around the world use Intradiem’s solution every day. For more information, call 888-566-9457 or visit www.intradiem.com.