In all call centres, there are three primary stakeholders: the customers that call in for help, the staff that serve those customers, and the company itself.
The overall performance of a call centre is an amalgamation of how day-to-day operation effects each of these stakeholders. It isn’t enough to serve the interests of the business, at the expense of the customer; or to fixate on customer experience without regard for staff satisfaction.
In order to get a clear understanding of how our call centre is performing, we need to determine how well the call centre is serving its three main stakeholders. To achieve that, we can monitor three distinct aspects of performance: customer experience, operational efficiency, and operational health.
|Customer Experience||Customers||How satisfied are your customers with the experience of using your call centre?|
|Operational Efficiency||Company||How effective is the call centre at achieving cost efficient customer service?|
|Staff||How happy are your staff? How are they affected by your processes?|
The Fourth Stakeholder
Whilst serving the interests of the company, customers and staff is an obvious priority, there’s also another type of stakeholder that call centres need to cater to: industry regulators.
Despite being third-party entities, regulators have a significant amount of power. We’ve seen utility companies fined millions for failing to act on customer complaints, and breaching the customer charter. Within the financial services sector, we’ve seen PPI insurers forced to shell-out billions in compensation, before being fined again for aggressive selling tactics.
- Poor customer experience can lead to bad publicity, negative social media reviews and a damaged call centre reputation.
- Poor operational efficiency will damage the call centre’s bottom line – wasting money, and causing missed opportunities.
- Poor operational health will increase staff churn, increase training and retention costs, and make it hard to hire new employees.
- Poor regulatory adherence can lead to huge penalties and pay-outs, and damage a company’s brand in the process.
Call Centre Priorities
Failing to serve any of these stakeholders will have a detrimental effect on any call centre. As a result, it makes sense to monitor performance in each of these areas, and ensure that the needs of all crucial stakeholders are being met.
In many cases, this isn’t happening.
We recently attended a workshop at a big UK call centre conference. Each of the attending companies (providing a pretty representative sample of UK call centres) was surveyed. They were asked to assess the performance of their contact centre, and identify how well they were serving the needs of the four primary stakeholders.
- Customer Experience: 6/10
- Operational Efficiency: 5/10
- Operational Health: 4/10
- Regulatory Adherence: 7/10
This was the average result: most of the businesses’ time and energy went into regulatory adherence, and sticking to the letter of the law. The least important stakeholders were their own employees.
It’s easy to see why this happens. The needs of regulators are backed-up by codified requirements, offering clear guidelines for the action call centres need to take, and the financial implications of failing to do so. It’s easy to prioritise spending to avoid regulatory costs, and harder to justify spending on less tangible areas, like employee satisfaction.
Crucially though, this attitude may cost more in the long-run. A skilled financial agent could earn a salary of £20,000. Training that agent could cost an extra £20,000; and hiring costs could themselves add-up to 50% of their salary. With salary concerns a primary reason for staff turnover, adding an extra £100 to an employee’s monthly pay packet could be enough to encourage them to stay with your centre – saving your business £50,000 in hiring costs in the process.
In short, improving call centre performance is a balancing act. Improvements in one area can sometimes be at the expense of another, and to improve overall performance, it’s essential to monitor and analyse each of these crucial areas of performance.
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