Call Centers

Effectively Manage Data for Contact Centers

Consider the following contact center scenario. Janet, a mobile consumer, calls her telecom provider and lands at the Contact Center. Janet: Your network connectivity is poor in the Dukes and 53rd area. I keep dropping business calls when I commute through it every day. Advisor: Thank you for the location details. Is there any specific…

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Integrate Values into Business Processes

The intent of any organization’s process improvement efforts is to improve the effectiveness (e.g., reduce defects) and efficiency (e.g., cost cutting per transaction) of the business process. What one often does not see as part of the effectiveness definition, however, is the expectation that the newly redesigned or improved business processes need to reflect the…

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A Lean Approach to Improving Service Call Center Performance

With increasing competition, expanding globalization and demanding customers, the playing field in the service Lean call center (SCC) industry has changed rapidly, as phone banks have evolved into multichannel contact centers. Many organizations have realized that the key for survival is efficiency and effectiveness, with a focus on productivity and customer experience. Lean techniques, which focus…


Call vs. Online Chat: Switching Volume from One Channel to Another

An iSixSigma Discussion Forum exchange involved the manager of a call center who was interested in eliminating her organization’s “online chat” channel of communication and have all contact flow through the phones instead. However, she wanted to see if she could make an apples-to-apples comparison between the online chat and phone channels, given that they…

Error-Proofing Strategies for Managing Call Center Fraud

Thoughts of fraud can cause call center leaders to sit bolt upright in bed at night. The damage to a company’s reputation from agents stealing credit card information is a serious threat. Further, companies are constantly trying to combat a low, but steady percentage of consumers’ attempts to not pay for goods they have received….


The Customer Talks Back: Musings on Call Center Efficiency

Running a call center is like handling a job interview: First impressions are critical. Good intentions do not make up for tardiness, ill-fitting clothing, dirty shoes, the inability to reasonably pronounce the interviewer’s name or ignorance about what the company does. The primary purpose of a call center is to increase the profitability of the…

How Billing Delays Can Correlate with Call Volumes

I recently was reminded of the value of challenging long-held assumptions. I was working in a 700-seat call center, which was operated by an international mobile carrier that had been purchased and merged with a large regional carrier. Systems and processes at the call center were finally stabilizing, except for the billing process. The company…

Calculating Call Center Interarrival and Service Times

Two Six Sigma professionals recently posed questions in the iSixSigma Discussion Forum relating to queuing theory in a call center. One reader wanted to know how to calculate average and standard deviation for service time and interarrival time – the amount of time between the arrival of one customer and the arrival of the next….

Reducing Misdirected Calls in Automated Payment Systems

While working on a maintenance project for a large U.S. telecommunications firm, information technology company Infosys Technologies Ltd. discovered that an unacceptably high percentage of calls in the clients’ automated payment system were being routed to the call center agents. The team conducted a DMAIC project, outlined here, to reduce the number of misdirected calls….

Call Center Quality: Satisfaction Over Quantity

Until 2005, this was the case at NCCI Holdings Inc., a workers compensation insurance carrier, based in Boca Raton, Fla., USA. The call center at NCCI is a business-to-business operation that manages 400,000 phone calls and 70,000 email interactions every year with insurance carriers and insurance agents. To help improve call center quality, NCCI took…


How Do You Improve Call Center Forecast Accuracy with Six Sigma?

In an exchange on the iSixSigma Discussion Forums, a representative from a telecommunications firm was interested in learning about what methods are best to improve forecast accuracy at the company’s call center. After some discussion about defining the goals of the project, the responding Six Sigma experts then offered their views about using such tools…

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Fixing Between-agent Variation Can Make All the Difference

Here is the good news: To help their call centers improve, managers need to solve just one problem – between-agent variation. That’s right. Fixing that problem can take a call center to a new standard of excellence. Of course there are other operational challenges that need to be solved, but between-agent variation is such a…

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The Final Tollgate: Age Verification Cycle Time

For online betting organization Betfair, based in the United Kingdom, scrupulous identification of customers is vital. Within 72 hours of creating a Betfair account, the customer’s age must be verified to be 18 years or older. Betfair’s verification process is a necessary part of protecting customers and the business, and for complying with relevant U.K….

The Futility of Call Center Coaching

One-agent-at-a-time coaching is the go-to method in call centers for trying to improve center-wide output measures. But it is less valuable than many believe. Through the use of mathematical modeling and simulation, it is possible to see that coaching, even in moderate turnover environments, does not offer a return on investment (ROI). More-effective improvement strategies…


Aligning Call Center Agent Goals with Customer Desires

In the 1990s, the teller counter was the primary customer-facing area in the financial service industry, and so improvement efforts were leveraged in this arena. With increased improvements in technology and online banking utilization, however, process improvement efforts have shifted to internal areas. Yet companies must realize that even though customers are becoming more self-reliant…

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Aligning Army Call Center Goals to Improve Performance

Product Manager, Transportation Information Services (PM TIS) is an Army program under the auspices of the Program Executive Office, Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS). The PM TIS organization includes the Customer Service Center (CSC) which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions and resolve issues related to software that…

Reducing IT User Downtime Using TQM – A Case Study

This Information Technology (IT) case study was done during the implementation of total quality management (TQM) in a financial services company with several hundred computers and computer users in multiple locations throughout India. The results have widespread applicability and in particular are aimed at organizations with large computer networks, IT facilities management companies and customer…