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Cost Cutting Insurance for Customer Service

Cost Cutting Insurance for Customer Service

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Published by lwimberly
These top five cost-cutting methods for the call center have the potential to drive customers to the competition if done incorrectly and without the right safeguards. This guide will outline simple methods to provide that "insurance" for such methods as work at home agents and reducing headcount.
These top five cost-cutting methods for the call center have the potential to drive customers to the competition if done incorrectly and without the right safeguards. This guide will outline simple methods to provide that "insurance" for such methods as work at home agents and reducing headcount.

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Published by: lwimberly on Oct 08, 2009
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10/07/2009

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Cost-Cutting Insurance for
A Guide for Reducing Costs without Sacrificing Customer Loyalty 
 January 2009
Custoer Servicem
 
 
2
By Matt McConnell
mer loyalty.
rong at the ende customers to make those cuts. Holding on toions and competitorss surface again and again in the call centerwsletters, vendor solicitations, etc. They are (in no particular order):nts: at-home and outsourcedntotential to reduce costs. Each also has the potential to drivecorrectly and without the right safeguards. This guide will
e than you bargained for.
ugh reducedility and infrastructure costs with at-home agents and outsourcing. But many haveely customerand processrvice is almostssful call centers are those that have defined, detailed agent qualificationshen hiring new agents, no matter where they sit.ave been set, alled with the samerformance management they need to be effective. This iscritical given the dispersed nature of the workforce.
Decreased Headcount
Who has time to answer the phone? 
Headcount reduction of agents and/or supervisors can have the most potential for reducedcustomer satisfaction and revenues. There are a few ways to execute some of the measuresbelow, however, with minimized damage:
Cost-Cutting Insurance for Customer Service
 
How to make common cost reductions without sacrificing custo 
 Everybody is doing it. Cutting costs, that is. But the businesses that will emerge stof this recession are the ones who don’t sacrificcustomers during tough times can prove difficult, given inevitable cost reductwho are just a click away for a dissatisfied customer.Five of the most common cost reduction methodpress, the blogosphere, ne 
More distributed age
Decreased headcou
Increased self-service
Turnover reduction
Reduced technology costsEach of these methods has the pcustomers to the competition if done inoutline simple methods to provide that “insurance.”
Distributed Agents
Getting mor 
 One of the most common solutions to “cheaper” has been to cut labor costs throlabor, facdiscovered that “cheaper” came at the expense of consistency, quality and ultimatloyalty.In our research
1
, executives called for a consistent hiring and training platformacross all agent segments. Without it, they said, reaching a consistent level of seimpossible.Hiring:The most succeand do not deviate from them w Training & Performance Management:Once key metrics and expectations hagents – whether in the center, at home, or across the ocean – must be providtraining, ongoing coaching, and pe
 
 
3
Reduce agent headcount:Most centers overstaff to allow enough time for traiwith reduced headcount and the same service levels to meet, training will almosttrumped. If agents aren’t properly prepared for calls, qualityning. In a scenarioalways getwill begin to suffer over time. Byreducing training to short intervals and delivering it only during idle time between calls, trainingach and coaching, supervisors willneed automation to help them find the time to coach all team members and to provideard to ensureermine who to cut:While performance is typically used to make these decisions, overalllso be considered. A way to objectively assess which agents are a fit for thehelp to make choices that increase retention and reduce long-termnt promise whenWill a smaller staffction. What about the lost cross-sell and up-ill the agents who take the calls have the necessary skills to resolve theincrease wallet share? In our research
4
, training was second only to rightsales success factor. A pervasive and constant method of training andself-service whileve with,” butstces ongoing hiring volume that might cripple many HR departments innly way to reduce attrition and cope with volume hiring is to push objectiveonly spend timessible in other industries to the “screening out the rest”approach. Based on top reasons for agent attrition found in our research
2
, the screening should:
Set realistic expectations for the job
Measure key skills
Assess job fitBy screening out anyone who doesn’t meet the above criteria before an interview, recruiters willmaximize efficiency, and the operation will reduce early attrition. For later stage retention, bestpractice training and coaching play key roles.and sufficient availability can both be achieved with reduced headcount.Increase supervisor span of control:In our research
3
on coaching, time to coprocess execution were top challenges. To effectively manage a larger teamalternatives to face-to-face coaching. Center management will need a safegucoaching processes are being executed effectively.Detturnover risk should a job over the long term willcosts.
Increase Self-Service
How did you get this number? 
On paper, it makes sense. If more issues are handled by the customers themselves, you calower call volume and headcount needed. While self-service can deliver on thaexecuted well, what happens to the more complex calls that require an agent?have the time for training and updates needed to deal with the difficult issues? If not, you may bedecreasing first call resolution and customer satisfasell opportunities? W problem quickly andpeople as a service tocommunications must become part of the call center’s infrastructure to supportcontinuing to meet customer satisfaction and revenue goals.
Turnover Reduction
I didn’t sign up for this.
Attrition is a constant in the call center. It’s a problem most have just decided to “liwhen all the true costs are totaled, it becomes a prime target for cost reduction. As with mocomplallenges arise in the execution.ex problems, however, the ch Th call center eother industries. The oexperienscreening on critical aspects to the front end of the process. In this way recruiterswith candidates who are capable of doing the job and interested in doing the job. This shifts awayfrom the “perfect match” approach po

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