Quality in the Call Center – Improving your customer service
G U E S T A R T I C L E
Blast from the Past
Quality in the Call Center –
Improving your customer service
By Arthur Skuja
Capital Quality News 2000 Issue 5
Contributed by : Candice Carter
We have all dealt with extended sessions on hold waiting for that nugget of technical support, pesky telemarketers calling in middle of supper. At a well attended evening session Peter De Gusztoninyi gave an interesting presentation providing some insight into call center operations.
Peter set the framework with definitions and scope. Call centers or contact centers focus on interaction with internal and external contacts for support, sales, collections,service dispatch, and data collection. I n all cases training and knowledge base of the call center personnel is critical to the quality of service.
The contact center industry has undergone a lot of change. The trend has been to introduce more technology to save costs and improve service, including the use of more self service operation. However, the new technology trend has not generally lead to improved customer satisfaction. Most people found “accuracy and consistency more important than speed of answer” Satisfaction included first call resolution, courtesy,knowledge,and consistency across media.
As with other applications, metrics play an important role. A service level agreement (ISLA) outlining, the expected level of service should be established and published. SLA’s include references to wait times, dropped call rates, expected volumes,ca duration,etc. Poor service levels lead to increased costs, either by callbacks and escalations or indirectly by loss of customers and referrals or increased staff turnover.
Peter talked about his experiences looking at best practices within the industry to improve service. Key factors include, focus on customer expectations, set the SLA accordingly, recognize people as key to the process, ensure consistency of information between Web sites and call center scripts, leverage key statistics to get to know the customer concerns, be open to process improvement. Maintaining a good level of service comes down to the dilemma of maintaining a balance between metrics, people, process,and planning.
Implementing standards helps. Originally developed in 1996 for rating outsourced call centers, the Customer Operations Performance Center (COPC) standard performance model is oriented specifically to customer contact centers with the goal to help increase client/user satisfaction. The scope of COPC includes inbound customer contact centers,technical support and fulfillment operations. It looks at improving service and quality while reducing contact center turnover. The COPC framework is tied to several key areas : planning 15%, process 30% , performance 35%, and people 20%. Key COPC practitioners include Bell and AT&T.
Specific factors are included to help evaluate performance. Some of the Data aspects can be summarized as CUIKA: Collected-data is gathered; Usable-trends are clear; Integrity-data is accurate and consistent- ; Knowledge- access to information is available- Action- to Improve performance.
The COPC standard is consistent with ISO 900-2000 and is well suited for a parallel implementation with other initiatives such as certification. COPC meets the requirements of QMF(4.0)but is not as critical. In some cases COPC is more rigorous than ISO 9000 including requirements for specific metrics pertaining to call centers and has more of a customer focus.
If your organization deals with contact centers or even if you are just looking to get some insight into improving communications, take a look at COPC.
The post has been contributed by Candice Carter. You can contact her using our contact form.