Call Center Management

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    I seek advice from anyone who have worked with Call Centers or are currently working at Call Centers.
    We contract out our call center as well as the repair process (two different companies). For the call center, we “buy” agents instead of paying per customer call, so it’s a rather fixed cost. I decide on how many agents I need. I’d like to do analysis of measures like % utilization of agents (eg. by method of communication like phone call, email, or other tasks like updating data) with the goal of reducing the agents that we “buy”.
    1) Due to the fact that the Call Center is an outsourced entity, how imposing would it be for me to request for such info from the Call Center?
    2) What type of measures should I hold the Call Center accountable for – and that they would let me?
    3) Is it more beneficial to “buy” agents or pay per Customer Call received?
    4) Should I, the call center’s client, be paying for training of their agents on my products? Is this common practice?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I would also like to touchbase with anyone who is willing to share best practices on managing Call Centers, Repair depot or warranty costs with me. In return, I would also be happy to share best practices on Six Sigma, Lean and Demand Flow Technology. My email address is [email protected].



    The company you’re outsourcing to should be able to provide you with utilization % and similar metrics. You shouldn’t have to be afraid of “imposing” by asking for the info – you’re the customer and you’re asking for info they should be tracking for you anyway. Unfortunately, I am aware of at least one company out there who may be less cooperative. If they don’t want to provide info beyond what’s in the contract… good luck.
    You probably can’t hold the Call Center accountable right away for anything other than the Service Level Agreement(s) already in the contract. What you can and should do is determine what metrics are important to you and share that with them. If they want to renew the contract when it’s up, they should be willing to work with you now. When the contract comes up you can include new requirements including improvement goals. The types of measures should include things like closure rates (assuming it’s a revenue-generating call center), profitability (if they have any flexibility), customer satisfaction, order quality, etc.
    Paying per call received rewards the behavior of rushing through calls without caring about the outcome. Risky approach, depending on what other quality metrics are included in the SLAs. “Buying” agents puts you in a better position to push quality concerns, but it still doesn’t provide any incentive to be effective. Best approach is to include a of reward system tied to call quality as it affects your long-term profitability: closure rates, revenue generated, customer satisfaction, etc.
    In the long run, you’re going to pay for training in one way or another. I can’t tell you what’s common in call center outsourcing outside of my limited experience in the area. In general, training tends to be paid for by whoever stands to profit from it.

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