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For Effective Call Center Management- Part 2

Is it Time for your Annual Check Up?

Last month we began to examine how we can truly pay attention to the ‘thousands of moving parts’ in our call centers, drive operational innovation and breakthroughs. We examined the ‘best practice’ model and found it wanting, as it is often without the required context of the companys’ goals, objectives and real-world issues like budgets. In truth the race is against ourselves, even our customers don’t care about our competitors service performance, at least not until dealing with us has convinced them to look at switching. We also examined the challenges that surround the quintessential ‘To Do’ list; this linear approach gets things done, but usually fails to recognize the subtle and discrete connections between all of the moving parts. This can result in fixing a symptom but having the patient actually get sicker.

So how do we effectively manage these interconnected processes and systems; the ‘thousands of moving parts’ that make up every call center? I suggest that we look at how we manage the most complicated interconnected, technology intensive and integrated entity we possess…our bodies. The human body is comprised of ‘thousands of moving parts’, interconnected and interdependent systems. While we are the ‘operators’ of our bodies we see an expert our physician each year for a check up. This is where we discuss all of the things that aren’t working as we would like and look for solutions. We know that the way we operate our bodies results in various outcomes; we are genetically predisposed to some diseases and others we cause with our lifestyle and environment. The same is true for a call center, the company we work in, even the vertical or industry can make us more susceptible to certain call center maladies and others are purely the result of our own actions or inactions.

Just as a complete and thorough physical seeks to assess the function and capabilities of our bodies individual systems, our concerns and questions lead a trained professional (our doctor) through a sequence of questions to uncover root causes rather than just the symptoms. A call center Strategic Assessment seeks to test and assess all of the systems, processes at work in our call center. Completing a call center assessment annually is great way to ensure long term sustainability.

The objective of a Strategic Assessment can be simply put in the following four questions;

1. Are we doing the right things?
2. Are we doing them in the right way?
3. Are we doing them in the right location?
4. Should we be looking at alternatives, for instance outsourcing?

Behind the questions we examine the center against four categories of activity;

People,
Process,
Technology,
Methodology,

These four ‘pillars’ cover all of the activities within a call center and all of the moving parts that we represented in last months ‘Clover Leaf’ graphic

(insert Clover Leaf graphic)

The process for assessing your call center employs more than one hundred discrete activities than can be represented by the block diagram below;

(insert block diagram)

By overlaying the assessment process overtop of the four ‘pillars’ it is possible to produce a report card that illustrates how the center s performing today opposite each of the four ‘pillars’ and to identify the opportunities for improvement. In much the same way as your doctor will administer blood tests, x-rays, EEG and EKG tests to determine your relative state of health the Strategic Assessment conducts numerous tests to determine the health of you contact center. Your doctor then makes recommendations to improve your health; get more exercise, watch what you eat etc. The Strategic assessment makes recommendations to improve your call center operational heath; fix dysfunctional processes, correct alignment conflicts etc.

A regular annual review/strategic assessment should take between 2 to 5 weeks from start to finish depending on the size and complexity of the center, or centers and usually not more than a few hours of management effort to answer key questions, a few days (2-5) on site with the assessor inspecting and reviewing key details, stakeholder interviews and detail analysis. The final report should be forthcoming with a detailed presentation to senior officers.

A Strategic assessment provides you with a roadmap for operational change that is grounded in your call center, your company and your goals and objectives. This degree of specificity isn’t possible through benchmarking or best practices alone, but only when completed as a part of an overall assessment.

Failure to conduct regular assessments of your call center can result in; missing a diagnosis early on, when chances of correction are best (and easiest), continued erosion in terms of performance and increased costs. All of which can negatively impact on brand loyalty, market share and ultimately our own career prospects.

I believe it was best stated in those Fram Oil filter TV ads from long ago, which commented on the interdependency of the oil filter and your cars’ overall health…”You can pay me now or pay me later.”

Let us know what you think of this article or any suggestions you have for future issues by email at [email protected].

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