Call Center
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to call center technology including software and products. Since the Company's inception in 1978, DSC has specialized in the development of communications software and systems. Beginning with our CRM and call center applications, DSC has developed computer telephony integration software and PC based phone systems. These products have been developed to run on a wide variety of telecom computer systems and environments. The following are articles and information relating to call centers.

Call Center Design

This white paper describes the steps involved in assessing the staffing requirements of a call centre and the estimating the number of trunks (central office lines) required to serve a call centre for incoming calls.

Software tools required
In order to help you with your calculations, we have provided free online traffic calculators at this Web site which you can use now. A Windows version is available for immediate download at 80 US Dollars and offers increased speed, capacity and convenience. Ansapoint is a call centre analyser which automates the design process discussed in this paper. It is available for immediate download for just 160 US Dollars.

Description of the design process
There are two distinct areas of design required in such an application. The questions which must be answered are:
 

1. How many call centre agents do I need? 2. How many trunks do I need?

As call holding times depend upon average queuing times (which depend upon the number of agents deployed), the two questions must be addressed in the order shown.

How many agents do I need?
Calculating the number of agents required is a continuous process which will require regular reassessment as the circumstances of a call center change. Assessments may be made for each working hour of a day, and should take such factors as marketing campaigns and daily call peaks into account. We suggest performing a calculation for each working hour. In order to estimate the number of agents required in a particular hour, the following information relating to that hour is required as a minimum:
  

Number of calls received Average duration of these calls Average delay that you accept that incoming callers may experience.

Items 1 and 2 describe the incoming traffic levels and must be established from call statistics or from estimates based on your understand of your business. Item 3 is your performance criterion. Another performance criterion which can be used defines call handling in terms of the percentage of calls answered within a target queuing time (e.g. 85% of calls answered within 20 seconds of ringing). This can be more meaningful and is supported by our Windows 95 / NT product, Westbay Traffic Calculators, but is not yet supported by our online calculators. Wrap up time (or wrap time) is the time an agent remains unavailable to answer a call after a call has been completed. It is usually the time taken to carry out administrative tasks relating to a call such as entering an order on a terminal. For the purposes of Erlang C, wrap up time should be included in average call duration. Having established these three minimum parameters for an hour, an estimate of the number of agents required can be made using the Erlang C Traffic Model. You can use our online calculator to work through this example now.
  

Calls received in the hour 350 Average call duration 180 seconds (160 seconds duration + 20 seconds wrap up time). Average delay to all calls 25 seconds

Pressing the Calc button reveals that 21 agents will be required during the hour in question. Performing this calculation using our Windows product, Westbay Traffic Calculators is similar, but please refer to the user guide or help system for detailed instructions.

How many trunks do I need?
Whereas the number of agents required can (and should) be dynamic, changing from hour to hour, the number of lines required to connect a call center with a central office exchange is fixed

(at least in traditional circuit switched technology) and must cater for the maximum anticipated traffic levels which will be encountered. Engineering the number of lines required is known as dimensioning a trunk group. The Erlang B traffic model can be used to estimate the number of lines required. This traffic model requires the following inputs:
 

Busy Hour Traffic Blocking

This figure represents the quantity of traffic expressed in a unit called Erlangs. For the purposes of these calculations, 1 Erlang can be considered equivalent to 1 hour of calls. The busiest hour must always be used for busy hour traffic calculations. But, wrap up time is not included. In working out the number of lines required, the busy hour traffic must be based on the duration of the calls and the queuing times as these account for trunk occupancy; wrap up time does not occupy a trunk. Assuming our earlier call centre example represents the busiest hour, the busy hour traffic is calculated as follows: BHT = [ Average call duration (s) + Average delay (s) ] * Calls per hour / 3600 The resulting figure shows the total trunk occupancy in hours, including the average delay period during which calls are being queued in an ACD and occupying trunks. So, the busy hour traffic figure would be: BHT = [ 160 + 25 ] * 350 / 3600 BHT = 17.986 Erlangs It is important to note that the busy hour traffic figure should represent the busiest traffic load a call centre will ever be offered. The trunk group being designed must be large enough to cater not just for today's peak, but for every peak. Therefore, extreme caution should be exercised when calculating BHT. The blocking figure describes the calls which cannot be completed because insufficient lines have been provided. A figure of 0.01 means that 1% of calls would be blocked; this is a normal figure to use in traffic engineering. For some applications, 0.03 (3%) blocking is used. Having established these two parameters, an estimate of the number of lines required can be made using the Erlang B Traffic Model. You can use our online calculator to work through this example now.
 

BHT = 17.986 Erlangs Blocking = 0.01

Pressing the Calc button reveals that 28 lines will be required during the hour in question. Performing this calculation using our Windows 95 / NT product, Westbay Traffic Calculators is similar, but please refer to the user guide or help system for detailed instructions.

Reasons for caution
The Erlang B and C traffic models make certain assumptions about the nature of the call arrivals. Amongst them is the assumption that call arrivals are random (Poisson arrivals). Although this is quite reasonable in most applications, it can cause inaccurate results when there is a sudden peak of calls. This type of peak can be produced by a radio or television advertisement being shown (which can often be the reason for a call centre's existence in the first place!) Where drastic call peaks are expected, over-engineering of trunks and call center agents should always be carried out always be on the safe side! The Erlang C traffic model does not take abandoned calls into account, but if your call center is engineered correctly, this should not be a factor. It may cause a problem when attempting to use Erlang C to analyse an existing call centre with poor performance.

This document has demonstrated how to use our online and Windows traffic calculators to design some aspects of call center operations. If you have any questions, please send us an email.

Drive Call Center Sales: Using Service Reps to Cross-sell and Up-sell Business Wire CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 22, 2004--How do today's corporations best increase revenue with existing customer bases? The findings from a new Best Practices, LLC study, "Transforming Contact Centers into High-Performing Sales Channels: Building Service that Sustains Sales", helps organizations expand existing customer relationships through crossselling and upselling strategies and tactics used by the nation's leading companies. Best Practices, LLC is now offering a discount on all benchmarking research. Purchase this report and save 10% through September 30. Contact a Solutions Specialist at (919) 403-0251 to find out how you can save up to 30% in additional discounts and visit us at for more information about our products and services. "Transforming Contact Centers into High-Performing Sales Channels: Building Service that Sustains Sales", available at , offers a unique opportunity to see how top companies such as Bank of America, Citigroup, Dell Computer, IBM,

Lands' End and Medtronic drive sales, increase customer loyalty and expand customer relationships by enabling customer service representatives to cross-sell and up-sell. Top findings include: -- Most companies expect at least 80% of call center reps to assume a cross-selling role. -- Sixty percent of surveyed have implemented training programs to prepare reps for crossselling. -- More than 50% of benchmarked companies designate cross-sell sales for reps. -- Top benchmark partners employ a 10:1 service rep to manager ratio to enhance performance management. Adopt these ready-to-implement practices to your organization today. Apply contact center transformation initiatives proven to: -- Drive sales through restructured contact center and resource allocation changes. -- Increase employee retention by effectively manage change when service reps are introduced to sales roles. -- Increase per-transaction sales by implementing effective cross-selling processes. -- Increase the value of your rep pool by recruiting top-level service/sales representatives. -- Boost reps' sales skills through training, coaching and other reinforcement techniques. -- Drive rep productivity through performance tracking. To discuss this study in more detail, contact Steve Walters at (919) 767-9256 or at And download a complimentary study excerpt of "Transforming Contact Centers into High-Performing Sales Channels: Building Service that Sustains Sales" at: to learn how these research findings will work for you. ABOUT BEST PRACTICES, LLC Best Practices, LLC is a research and consulting firm that conducts work based on the principle that organizations can chart a course to superior economic performance by studying the best business practices, operating tactics and winning strategies of world-class companies. For more information about Best Practices, LLC, call (919) 403-0251, or visit the corporate website at

Best Practices for Solving the Self-Service Paradox

how do they provide an application that meets both the needs of the business and its customers? The ultimate paradox is that a poorly deployed self-service solution may actually increase the number of support calls by generating new questions about how to use the support site. the sophistication of content delivery. Incorporating user feedback and Web analytics to tune and optimize content and system performance is an important ongoing activity. Central to the challenges we have seen in our consulting engagements is what our firm has termed the self-service paradox. ATM machines. As more complex products and services like wireless phones. choosing the right solution only adds to the complexity. along with user and technical requirements. The difference today is that the channels for reaching customers. Development teams also need to integrate the various information sources and applications that are needed to answer the question or complete the transaction. With about 150 vendors in the self-service CRM market. For businesses that means the potential to enter new markets and gain customer insight. These include performing a readiness assessment to understand business objectives. and looking at lessons from first movers and their best practices. or even vending machines early examples. the concept of having customers help themselves is actually a rather old idea if you consider mail order catalogs. or even healthcare are delivered and supported via self-service channels. and provide a way to seamlessly . Customer self-service is one of the hotter topics in CRM. and focus on quick wins to build organizational momentum. using an ROI framework and performance metrics. while realizing a lower cost of interaction and potentially more consistent service delivery. The answers lie in studying the benefits and limitations of self-service. Nearly every CRM and call center vendor has been adding--or acquiring--self-service functionality. As relationships are made or lost via self-service. given the amount of money companies have spent driving customers to the Web. self-service is about reach and efficiency. successful deployments often start with a business case. For users it's about convenience--24/7 access and the potential to have one source for Allen Bonde How to provide a system that meets the needs of both your company and your customers. Many of the executives we talk to have made new Web self-service initiatives a priority for the remainder of 2004. why do most provide a poor experience when customers get there? On the other hand. search and question-answering capability. have evolved. In addition. as well as the mode--I'm in a hurry versus I'd like some advice--and context for each interaction. On one hand. Some best practices include those that are common to any large-scale enterprise application project. when companies look to invest in self-service. At its simplest form. investment services. Businesses also need to truly understand the level of expertise of each self-service user. Other best practices are more unique to self-service applications. and integration with account management functionality becomes critical. consistency across channels and the quality of experience move to center stage. from voice response systems to kiosks and the Web. However.

including enhanced customer loyalty and even increased revenue per user. About the Author Allen Bonde is the president of Allen Bonde Group Inc. is to drill down into each area and identify how the definitions are changing and what services will best meet new demands. a management consulting and strategic advisory firm focused on multichannel CRM and self-service trends. Organizations who fall behind will pay a brutal price: dissatisfied customers. and strategies based in Wellesley Hills. The trick. Founded in 2001. Most important. a toll free number. (ABG). but also avoid the pitfalls of the self-service paradox. even in the blistering pace of today's volatile economy. But those who stay ahead of the curve will enjoy strong customer loyalty and the commensurate benefits. ABG has delivered more than 50 engagements to leading technology and financial services organizations across North America.escalate to other channels. multiple channels of access (telephone. email. "be accessible" meant having a call center. Ten Key Customer Expectations . Internet. Today. supported by reasonably thoughtful processes. Contact Allen via email at allen@allenbondegroup. of course. organizations need to realize that the benefits of self-service extend beyond simply reducing support costs via call deflection. Call Center Customer Service Customers Expect Much of Call Centers Brad Cleveland Incoming Calls Management Institute One of the most critical and difficult aspects of managing customer loyalty in coming months will be to provide customer contact services that satisfy rapidly changing consumer demands. The stakes are high. But we're just getting started. The list of fundamental customer expectations provided in the table has proven to be amazingly robust over the past decade.) 24/7 operations and one-stop shopping have become well-established best practices in the customer contact arena. etc. some reasonably well-trained and well-equipped agents. Keeping in mind the need to balance business goals with user preferences is the best way to not only achieve these benefits. negative word of mouth and defections to competitors. A decade ago. There is a full range of tangible and intangible benefits of self-service. best practices.

As customers demand simplicity. Cisco Connection Online (CCO) enables customers to communicate with each other. process and organizational challenges. it is becoming much more of a challenge to organizations. Treat me courteously 3. answer technical questions and build a community of support. services such as Amazon. And new technologies that bring Internet services to portable phones and other wireless devices are proliferating's "1-Click" capability enable return customers to order and pay for products and services with a single click of the mouse. As a result. E. Don't make me deal with poorly trained and ill-informed employees 6. "Tell me what to expect. the company has both saved on staffing costs and concentrated resources on the most difficult calls not adequately addressed by CCO. Do what I ask promptly 5. Boston Communication Group put a branch of their call center on site at a University of Massachusetts campus to attract and utilize capable workers. it is much more process-dependent in today's environment. New developments are creating the need for a new breed of call center professional. Cisco has. Speech recognition is enabling a new breed of secure and highly customized voice services. organizations face increasingly complex technology.g. "Don't make me deal with poorly trained and ill-informed employees" has always been an issue important to customers. Meet your commitments. Further.g. Do it right the first time. ongoing developments continue to raise the bar. But with multiple channels of contact and better educated consumers.1. are. keep your promises" and "do it right the . Be responsive to what I need and want 4.. don't transfer me around and don't make me repeat or reexplain my account history. Be accessible 2. Tell me what to expect 7. which enable a customer who is browsing a Web site to reach a customer service agent by the click of a mouse. And in an interesting twist. Be ethical Source: Incoming Calls Management Institute Communications centers are now being built into automobiles. by fits and starts. follow-up 9. "Be responsive to what I need and want" and "do what I ask promptly" are also definitions in transition. recruited customers to be support engineers." "meet your commitments. Be socially responsible 10. don't make me punch a bunch of confusing buttons only to wait in endless queue. beginning to proliferate. Recent holiday seasons revealed some well-publicized incompatibilities between the retail and online services of some companies (e.. e. in effect. While "treat me courteously" is a demand that was traditionally satisfied by reaching a competent agent with good communication skills and a smile in their voice. buy something online and you may or may not be able to exchange it at a physical outlet of the same company)..g. Web-based push-to-talk services. keep your promises 8. This promises to be a brewing issue of contention for consumers.

you meet your commitments. account status. Sept. online information on shipping. And in today's environment. "Call center leaders realize that in order to become profitable they need to begin asking customers what they specifically need or / contains more than 200 metrics and features practices from top financial services companies. And consideration of them should work its way into virtually every ). the financial services industry increased call center spending by 38% . Conclusion Customer demands are formed around experiences they have with any organization -. digital communities. They should continually be up for ethics or social responsibility quickly make the rounds in networked. "Be socially responsible" and "be ethical" have always been important issues to most consumers. lapses -. where most of their customer "touches" occur. The report highlights strategies and tactics to enhance overall call center efficiency and boost customer satisfaction as well as budget and staffing metrics. 65% of customers switch companies because of poor call center customer service ( http://www. Service leaders are raising the bar for everyone." I'll trust you as an organization to the degree that I know what to expect." a report available at http://www.financialcallcenters.first time. they assure me that you are keeping your end of the deal. Consequently. Today's increasingly informed and connected customers expect no less. do it right the first time and follow-up as necessary.a clear indication of the industry pressure to provide quality customer service.financialcallcenters. Fidelity Investments.not just those in a specific industry. N. Wachovia and MetLife.According to research from business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information. Allstate. Realtime. not just telling them what new promotion the . and clear explanations of the impact of any changes in terms or conditions are more than information. Between 1999 and 2001. such as Merrill Lynch. and those firms that successfully leverage call centers as customer-centric service centers gain profitability by establishing new customer relationships and expanding on existing ones.or even perceived lapses -. Customer service distinguishes financial companies from their competitors. 2 /PRNewswire/ -. customer expectations should be an important part of the call center's -.. Citigroup. Capital One. "trust but verify. follow-up" are issues that are inextricably interrelated.and the organization's -development and culture. Consumers seem to live by the mantra. 65% of Customer Turnover Stems From Poor Call Centers RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK. from reshaping strategy to process design to day-to-day planning and management activities. Firms in the financial industry are particularly focused on their call centers. "Managing Financial Services Call Centers.

customer service. How frustrating . cost per rep and many other key performance measurements Inbound and outbound call metrics for the financial services industry Up-selling and cross-selling strategies Offshore outsourcing Process efficiency and call center technology To view the online summary of this 114-page report. as opposed to contacting an actual person. Part of the reason many customers prefer to use static web pages as a communications channel. "By catering personally to a customer's . a Contact Center is a communications hub that includes numerous communication channels of customer contact such as telephone." "Managing Financial Services Call Centers" showcases quantitative metrics and qualitative business practices in the following areas:       Call center agents' incentive and compensation packages Turnover. Director of Marketing Paladyne What is a Contact Center? "Contact Center" is of the latest buzzwords in the e-business arena. visit http://www. For more information on this report or to learn about other research being conducted by Cutting Edge Information. fax. Weindruch. Media Inquiries contact Tricia McGovern at 919-433-0217 or email tricia_mcgovern@cuttingedgeinfo." says Cutting Edge Information senior anaylst Elio Evangelista. Simply put. and mail. marketing. A Contact Center is both an inbound and outbound service-based environment in which agents handle all types of contacts regarding sales. online chat). contact Oveda Slade 919-403-6583 or email info@cuttingedgeinfo. is that Contact Center Agents (CCAs) are typically so misinformed that communicating with them is time-consuming and .financialcallcenters. the Internet (email. A Contact Center where agents can access accurate and comprehensive data about you is an enjoyable experience. blocked calls. collections and other functions. As Contact Centers grow up. it is becoming evident that access to quality data is extremely important. . the company will in turn build lasting and rewarding is offering. Call Center Technology And Products Data Flow Management: From Call to to Contact Centers Jonathan P.

before Call Centers can achieve enterprise data access and improve data quality to foster more valuable customer relationships. satisfaction. What is Data Flow Management? Data Flow Management is the process of combining data from diverse data channels such as phone. A CCA who has access to quality data can talk intelligently and provide a pleasant experience for the customer. Call Centers can easily lose their focus of serving the customer by getting lost in the excitement of the latest methodologies and technological innovations. email. and providing accessibility to the data for CCAs. but also from a customer relationship management (CRM) point of view. Transitioning from Call to Contact Center Internet customers are attracted to the speed and convenience of the web as a communications medium and Call Centers are embracing strategies to transform themselves into Contact Centers by reengineering themselves for Internet integration with incredible fervor. How pleasant when a CCA can spell and pronounce your name correctly. they still want to be treated like customers whose time. and mail found in a Contact Center. they must first understand the intricacies and challenges of Data Flow Management. However. and money are valued. How pleasant when a CCA knows about your previous purchases and can recommend complementary products or services. fax. the accuracy and accessibility of the customer data as well as how the data is utilized contribute to either building or eroding a customer relationship. How frustrating to mail your credit card company updated address information and visit their web site weeks later to see that your account information still does not reflect your requested changes. Efforts to implement new systems only exacerbate the . Transitioning from a Call Center to a Contact Center is an enormous endeavor and many are struggling not only from a technical point of view. Each time an interaction occurs. Access to quality data is vital to the success of a Contact Center because the level of data access and quality in a Contact Center directly impacts customer relationships. Contact Centers that emphasize accurate data to streamline and improve interactions demonstrate their commitment to fostering a meaningful customer relationship. Although many customers often prefer the anonymity of interacting with a web page. improving the quality of the call your phone company multiple times and have to explain your problem each and every time. Data Flow Management involves:  Transformation  Integration  Cleansing  Distribution Data Flow Management is more challenging now more than ever as the number of disparate data sources increases.

and distributing data. Understanding and managing customer data from a metadata point of view alleviates the need for additional. Ideally. Business rules reflect core business policies and shape business behavior as they direct the process of collecting. Data Cleansing . Add to the equation that customers now have higher expectations of Contact Centers in this Internet Age and one quickly recognizes the importance and challenge of managing the flow of disparate data throughout a Contact Center. elaborate coding and helps Contact Centers control data pollution. Contact Centers would utilize software tools that can identify data patterns and can search through fields of free form data and re-arrange the tokens (words. to ensure all required information is collected. Data Integration Like Data Transformation. Metadata is data about data and describes how and when and by whom a particular set of data was collected. such as a web form. data elements) it finds into a logical order. Data Integration also relies heavily upon business rules and applying them seamlessly across diverse data sources. converting. the quantity of information has also increased in Contact Centers adding to the complexity of the problem. In conjunction with business rules. and how the data is formatted. Data Transformation Data Transformation is the first step and involves analyzing and collecting the diverse data sources of the customer and converting the data into a format that can be understood by target applications (used by CCAs). Conversion and transformation are important. Contact Centers can validate customer data. In addition to new data sources. Transforming Call Centers through Data Flow Management Without effective Data Flow Management. Call Centers must re-architect their processes into a Customer-Centric Contact Center by listening to their customers and delivering the services needed. integrating.problem by creating new information islands. Inevitably. Determining how to support an integrated. Metadata is very important in data integration. Contact Centers are losing revenues and profits by not efficiently integrating disparate data sources into their operations. but data accuracy and efficiency depends on incorporating business rules into the entire data flow management process. Integrating data from a customer phone call or a customer email requires software with an open architecture that can retrieve data fields from various sources as specified. cleaning. listening to customers and their needs means understanding and managing the flow of their data. multi-channel customer Contact Center must revolve around the flow of the data. which are the strategic assets of a Contact Center. Call Centers cannot successfully transform themselves into Contact Centers.

g. phone calls. Extending the Contact Center enterprise-wide allows the organization to more efficiently address service interactions and effectively turn contacts into sales opportunities.g. How the data is distributed from email. domain range checks (e. but selecting the appropriate software and hardware tools to perform these tasks is only one aspect of Data Flow Management. a list of valid US State and Territory codes). To augment the data cleansing. In a best-of-breed solution. and frequency distributions. handle special characters. a list of 140 million US mailing addresses). and cleansing steps should be distributed to CCAs to ensure standardized and quality throughout the Contact Center. lookup against domain values (e. Positive Results of Data Flow Management . effective Data Flow Management involves a number of technical processes. consistency checks among table data. correlations. In any event. internal consistency. Contact Centers would be able to implement one-to-many. enabling them to bring in "the right information at the right time" to fulfill customer requests. The ability to apply these rules dynamically is of prime importance. integration. Most Contact Center executives do not care about how the technology works or how customer data is processed. effective Data Flow Management requires a well-trained staff and an executive team that emphasizes data quality and integrity as part of business processes. effective data distribution will give CCAs access to complete customer data. A unified view of a customer is obtained through software that can recode misspellings. For example. and to replace/repair incorrect data with correct data. More than Technology As one can see. Data Distribution The successful interaction between a CCA and customer often is the direct result of timely delivery of accurate data. Data cleansing checks data quality and scrubs data by some combination of: look-up against valid data (e. Executives want to see tangible results that positively impact their bottom line so they need to be presented with the numerous benefits of effective Data Flow Management. or many-to-one customer data distribution. pattern analysis of exceptions. or any communications channel will revolve around business rules. valid domain. many-tomany.g. Indeed. replacing an invalid zip code with a zip code derived from the state/city information is an example of data cleansing. and match customer data phonetically. Employees less than 15 or greater than 90 years old). Contact Centers should consider investing in software tools that allow them to create a comprehensive view of customers before distributing the customer data to their CCAs.Data Cleansing is the process of checking data for adherence to standards. identify "throw away" phrases. Only data that has gone through above mentioned data transformation. referential integrity.

the CCA or web application interacting with the customer can ask appropriate questions to better qualify the customer and consider if fraud is a possibility. and interactions increasingly become automated.In addition to the positive impact of a CCA that can interact intelligently with customers. investigations often reveal that poorly trained data-entry personnel or customers themselves. who provide information inconsistently. For example. or unusual changes in spending to identify potential fraudulent activity." where a plethora of communication channels is the norm. a well-trained CCA can notice discrepancies in shipping and mailing addresses. new processes can be implemented or older processes can be revised to reduce the errors and their subsequent costs before they happen by incorporating them into the overall Data Flow Management process. there are other key benefits when a Contact Center is built around access to quality data so that a CCA is well equipped for intelligent interaction:  CCAs do not have to collect basic information from customers saving time  CCAs can spend more time developing a personal customer relationship  CCAs can take advantage of the extra time to cross-sell and up-sell faster and more thoroughly  CCAs and/or customers do not have to input redundant data  CCAs can identify potential fraud Prevent Errors & Fraud When Contact Center executives realize the benefits of effective Data Flow Management and encourage data quality to be incorporated into business processes. a CCA is relegated to being an "order entry agent" and has no opportunity to consider fraud as a possibility or even begin to develop a personalized customer relationship. Call Centers that seize the moment and begin the transformation process now into a Contact Center through effective Data Flow Management will have a competitive advantage in the brave new world of "21st century e-business. Because an effective Data Flow Management solution will provide access to all relevant customer information in near real-time. Are you Getting the Best Value from that Contact? . Once the source is identified (and a well-trained staff will be able to identify the source of the problem quickly). In many cases. are the sources of data quality problems. The Time to Transform is Now As more and more Call Centers adopt Internet-based business models. the organization will typically go through a period of investigation and analysis to determine where and how errors occur. accurate view of customer data. the need for enterprise data access and quality is crucial to the success of a Call Center attempting to transform into a Contact Center. But without access to a unified.

financial institution contact centres focussed mainly on service delivery. Customer Service Professionals (CSP‟s) need to learn the art of cross-selling. One industry where this is particularly evident is the financial sector. they need to be aware of all the various products or services provided by the company. they are looking at innovative ways to increase their profitability through cross sell and up sell opportunities. a typical call where a customer requests information outside of their specialist area will swing to-and-fro from one department to the next. Therefore the agent originally employed to serve purely current clients is now being re-trained to identify further sales opportunities. All too often. Traditionally. To achieve this..a way of dealing with customers as economically as possible. The basic information the client requires on any of the company's products should be easily obtained from a single point. and most importantly.Khilona Radia. maintaining that each CSP will be multi-skilled in order to serve as a one-stop point of contact for the client. Hence. Contact centres need to move from being sole service-providers to value-providers by capitalising on every contact made within the centre. So what are the key focus areas requiring the least spend and having the most impact on bottomline profits?  Maximising on customer contacts  Customer retention Maximising on Contacts Customers spend more time interacting with an organisation after the sale than when an initial sale is made. however the reality is that these teams are seldom aware of the features and benefits of the rest of the products / services the company provides. Hence. maximising on every after sale contact that the client makes with your organisation is so important. One way to do this is to hold product briefing sessions at least once a week. This appears to be one . Consultant SITEL Consulting Organisations have long looked at their contact centres as merely service-oriented cost centres. CSPs need to be able to close that sale. Today. This may serve the purposes of providing detailed knowledge on each product. each team is organised so as to provide specialist information. Views are changing rapidly as organisations are beginning to realise the potential of generating profits from this wealth of customer contacts. Firstly.. Secondly. This is the point where a lot of customers experience extreme frustration with contact centres.

while sales goals are related to cross sales of various product combinations. Sometimes all it takes to complete a sale is to compare your own products or services to that offered by your competitors. often resulting in customers not returning due to being sold a product that is perceived as the „best fit‟ but does not entirely meet their needs. incentive schemes for CSP‟s should be designed to reward customer retention. showed a 20% increase in combined inbound and outbound sales. Components of the quality requirement include phone etiquette. companies are able to jumpstart product usage. plus incentives for meeting various quality and sales goals. and not quality of sales. the parallel activity that needs to happen is to retain and develop existing client relationships.of the great challenges for contact centre staff. Incentives for quality for this organisation (whose identity is confidential) has been a priority. Prepare customised scenarios that allow a client to quickly compare their options and make an immediate decision. Organisations must focus on building a relationship with customers early in their relationship – from the very first contact. one good way to improve sales closure is to improve their knowledge of competitor products. Given that maximising on every client contact is one way of increasing profitability. By focusing on resolving customer education or service issues early. another quick way to close a sale is by painting a picture for the client. such as new customer acquisition or cost reduction. customer service. Secondly. A typical example is the emphasis placed on volume metrics – these drive quantity. which takes us to the next focus area – customer retention. Customer Retention Research indicates that 75% of shareholder value is created by an organisation's ability to retain customers . This is often far from the amount that dwarfs other key management activities. Incentive schemes focussed on numbers often inhibit CSP efforts to retain and develop customers. set customer perceptions of service and product quality from the onset of the relationship. . Most customers would appreciate your help in providing comparisons with competitive products – you‟re doing their homework for them – provided the information given is 100% correct. Targets should therefore be set so that they match with incentives that reward contribution to profit. A study conducted by the Council on Financial Competition1 where compensation structures for contact centre sales staff were evaluated. Staff are compensated based on a formula that encompasses a base salary. In this world of vast choices and limited time. In this way a solid foundation is built for initiating cross sales. However. with increased sales and retention being a natural result of improved quality.

Other incentives have been using customer feedback to determine a customer service score for each employee. In organizations of over 1. contact centres will operate as profit centres. Service and Brand to Combat Customer Organizations are embracing converged voice and data applications to reduce the cost of their internal and external communications systems. loyalty of customers and improved customer retention can be enhanced when the strategy of the contact centre changes2 from:  Maximising profit Maximising net present value  Emphasis on volume Emphasis on shareholder value  Reacting to defection Eliminating reasons for defection  Retaining all customers Retaining (correct) business  Retaining customers through individual initiative Retaining customers through corporate initiative  In the future. and those who score above the benchmark value could earn up to 10% of their basic salary.comptia. Fax servers and web conferencing solutions are the most frequently deployed converged applications in use today. 2. June 2000. 7. they need to start focussing on capitalising on their existing client contacts to generate profits and more importantly. internet protocol (IP) phones. and improve productivity throughout their operations.” Research Paper. soft phones. Corporate Advisory Board. References: 1. deriving the best value from their existing clients and keep them coming back. according to new research released today by CompTIA. Council on Financial Competition. streamline management of voice and data networks. In order to survive and succeed.1 percent) of organizations participating in the study said they currently use one or more converged applications. September 1998 Organizations Embracing Converged Voice and Data Applications The following is an extract from an article maintained on the website www. “Call Centre Sales Team Compensation Plans. the Computing Technology Industry Association. Lastly.6 percent of responding companies said they are currently in the process of deploying one or more converged . More than one-half (52. call center applications.” Fact Brief. “The Centre of the Dashboard: Aligning Sales.000 users that figure rises to 73 percent. followed by unified messaging. and voice-over-IP application servers. In addition to the organizations using converged applications today.

with the most significant productivity gains occurring in sales and marketing (46 percent)." Organizations believe that the deployment of converged applications will deliver benefits throughout their operations.comptia.. CompTIA Convergence Group." said Alan Borck. a member of the CompTIA board of directors and chairman of the association's Convergence Group. and add features and functionality at the server and desktop level. For more than 22 years CompTIA has provided research. and external communications (36 percent). N. of Piscataway. or deliver productivity gains with a short-term . reducing cost is the most important buying factor for organizations that currently use or are evaluating the purchase of converged applications. 9. the CompTIA study" By a wide margin (81.5 percent). Making the Right Call The following is an extract from the article "Making the Right Call" by Jason Compton from CRM Magazine: .org/members/corp/files/summary/4186_rev1. "This clearly indicates that corporate buyers are no longer content simply to spend money on a product that's better than last year's model. Return on investment is another key driver for many organizations (77. and 30. The association is involved in developing standards and best practices. and influencing the political. networking and partnering opportunities to its 20.J.5 percent).pdf. president of ARC Communications Ltd. A summary of the convergence study is available on the CompTIA web site at: http://www.often six months or less. call center/customer service operations (39 percent).5 percent)." said Edward Migut.7 percent are budgeting for and evaluating converged applications.comptia. "Efficiency.6 percent are planning to evaluate converged applications in the next 12 months. "Organizations believe that converged applications will provide them with enormous flexibility to manage and administer voice and data networks together through familiar interfaces. About CompTIA CompTIA is a global trade association representing the business interests of the information technology industry.payback on the investment.applications. More information is at www. "Buyers must be able to demonstrate to executive management that a purchase will either lead to cost savings. economic and educational arenas that impact IT worldwide. followed by easier administration (75. internal communications (40 percent). director.000 members in 102 countries. cost-containment and network integration are the key buying triggers for converged applications and services.

Outsourcing Realities According to telecommunications giant Sprint. The cheaper. others consider the resource too politically and emotionally controversial to handle. . for legacy products they didn't want to support themselves. Lowering those barriers allows companies even of modest size to seamlessly hand off customer interactions to an external provider. and technology issues managers should consider when making their decision." Rose says." says Bill Rose. "[Outsourcing] was not brought about by the VP of customer service. driven largely by lower unit labor costs. "Five years ago our members ventured out into outsourcing to do things they didn't want to do. The political uproar can make it difficult for companies trying to rationally evaluate call center outsourcing strategies to make a clear. while allowing relatively small or distributed customer care specialists to handle calls as though these companies were a large installation. but the reality of modern customer care is." says Marc McCluskey. "Over time. Like any customer relationship tool. however. such as how you actually decide what percentage of the work is going to the outsourcer. outsourced customer care can be employed intelligently. The fact is. research director at AMR Research. but not by walking away from responsibility. "You have to look at tangential issues. Those selling outsourcing services often promise impressive perinteraction costs. but brought about by the CFO. who rushed into decisions with little or no input from the functional leaders who own the customer experience."Call center outsourcing has grown from the channel of choice for high-volume telemarketers to big business. Outsourcers started creating more real value as they discovered they had to sing a more complex tune for their supper. informed decision. whether the phone is answered two floors or two continents away from the executive boardroom. or haphazardly. or off-hours [calls]. the cost of owning and operating a businessgrade." Rose says." Sizing Up Outsourcers Companies looking to engage with call center outsourcers should learn a lesson from many of the early adopters. wider information pipes also make it more practical to outsource higher-value customer contacts. high-speed data line has fallen more than 90 percent in just 10 years. process. cost is not king. call center outsourcing can provide value to an organization. "Companies focus too much on price. outsourcers are winning people over to the idea that they can do a better job identifying and managing knowledge. who said 'I heard we can cut the cost of support' by some ridiculous number. and whether you still need second-level support. We examine the people. consumer. and government groups. facing increased competition from new entrants and some pullback from client companies coming under fire from employee. founder of the Service and Support Professionals Association (SSPA). Some consider its value proposition too powerful to ignore.

preferably those who use the service provider in the same mode you plan to outsource (tech support. "You expect your outsourced call center to be up to par technologically.). "It should be a minimum of . After selecting an outsource partner. it may be more sensible to include the remote site in your application. including imperfect availability of resources. If the outsourcer's systems are chosen. "It's a combination of three groups: IT. CEO of outsourcing firm LeadGenesys. but if nobody comes through we always have somebody waiting in the wings who can think on their feet. "You want to see resumes if [outsourcers] are touting that they have thirteen to fifteen years of experience. learn from their example. or hopefully a little more advanced than you are." says Ross Garrity. outsourcers will improvise. If the selection process sounds like real work. inbound sales. assuming we would have enough time." AMR's McCluskey says. Web-based applications can make inclusion easier. Most call center outsourcing firms will have their own internal suite of CRM tools." says Jeff Kostermans. rather than integrate the outsourcer's applications with yours. marketing." Garrity says. etc." says Norman DePalantino. potential clients still bear a responsibility to do their own checking. Unless instructed otherwise. appoint a key point person to manage the day-to-day relationship with the outsourcer. Remember that outsourcers face the same challenges as an in-house call center. vice president in BearingPoint's global technology services group. And don't be shy about asking for HR records to back up the bold proclamations made about the proficiency of the agent staff. COO of Epixtar International Call Center Group. Not all their agents may be perfectly suited to the task on day one. Ask to speak with both current and former clients. outbound sales. we would go out and try to hire somebody with industry experience. "If it's a brand-new industry. but terminal services suites from companies like Citrix and Microsoft are also popular. but you then need to understand how the process of handling customer calls is facilitated using that technology. and sales definitely would have a huge vested interest. Although not literally responsible for the floor activities. but the executive team evaluating call centers needs to be able to make an informed judgment about the provider's ability to supply enough agents to scale with need. that is because it is. "The ideal person is a manager who runs the particular program on the floor [in an existing call center]. but depending on the size of the engagement and the sophistication of your own software environment. this executive must intimately understand both the outsourcer's operations and the company's own customer care strategies. While outsourcers will try to paint rosy pictures in the aggregate about the resources and expertise at their disposal. and probably the CFO.Offsite call centers need to be evaluated by the same customer care architects and implementers who are responsible for the ongoing operations inside the company.

. gaining planning permission and recruiting and training staff are just too much. number of calls made or even number of calls .wouldn't it be better to provide a call centre service in-house? Let's look at the arguments for and against. installing and maintaining systems. According to market research company Datamonitor. And it's a trend that's set to continue.100 in 1999 to 126.. integrating. many businesses face an extremely steep learning curve if they are to match the experience of an established service provider." Call Center Outsourcing To Outsource or Not? That's the Question David Bishop.500 in 2003. Outsourced specialists have the purchasing power to invest in the latest call centre technology. Managing Director Kingston incontact The demand for 24-hour information and service is ever increasing.. They'll know how to get the best out of it to produce a first class service. Realistically. it also removes the upfront costs associated with providing a service inhouse. They'll be able to integrate their call centre with your own IT systems. And we're not just talking here about the technology aspects.three to four months if you've done your due diligence and written transition plans. And with more and more consumer businesses moving out of the high street. providing a 24-hour service with pricing based on number of agents. What is equally important are the call centre "people" management techniques. The complexities of building.. But what are the advantages of outsourcing . Many don't want the expense and hassle associated with setting up their own call centres. they'll also have the experience and expertise needed to run a call centre. Outsourcing not only reduces capital outlay. Building an in-house call centre can also mean considerable investment. the European call centre outsourcing market will grow from $7bn in 1999 to $15bn in 2004 and the number of outsourced agent positions in Europe will increase from 74. providing the technical expertise needed to ensure that the technology is exploited to its maximum." Garrity says. Importantly. outsourcing call centre services are becoming an enticing option for many organisations. such as web-enabling and predictive dialling.

Offering flexible contract lengths.answered. Staff and expertise are also important issues. They'll have all round knowledge and a profound understanding of telephony. Kingston incontact's Call Centre Hotel offers companies a fully serviced high quality resource for short to medium term call centre facilities. Too often. including networks. it can be provided. ranging from the call centre equivalent of bed and breakfast to full board. the Call Centre Hotel provides a variety of options. anticipating issues and identifying the most effective solutions. Another worry is loss of control. not to mention the cost of running the building. Working with a supplier that already has the expertise and knowledge of such services is undoubtedly an advantage. A specialist overflow service can ease the burden of excessive peaks on call centres by fulfilling a short term need for extra capacity. Outsourced specialists can provide large numbers of well-trained agents who can be made available to deal with peaks as well as the introduction of extra services. organisations also get the additional benefit of the economies of scale and the lack of need to purchase their own system outright.but our large number of staff gives us greater scope to deal with busy periods . not only can we provide service in a variety of different languages 24 hours a day . and that they can trust the supplier. Companies want to be sure that their service will be top priority. add-ons such as training and project management or a fully managed "all inclusive service". Material to support the training can also be developed in conjunction with the client to ensure everyone involved fully understands the culture and values of an organisation. Transferring the culture of the business can also be . Whether clients need just a basic package.such as those faced by catalogue companies in the run up to Christmas. So what are the key issues to address? The cost of outsourcing is often perceived as high.with each advisor individually trained to a specific customer's requirements at our own training centre . however. and with an outsourced service. For example. Outsourced specialists also provide extra service resource on an ad hoc basis for clients whose own call centres are over stretched. they fail to take account of the cost of recruitment. that few businesses really know what it costs to run a call centre in house. training and the maintenance of technology systems. turnover. The truth is. They'll be able to offer comprehensive advice. The aim of the Call Centre Hotel is to provide a fast hassle free service that mitigates capital outlay and offers greater flexibility. At Kingston incontact. automatic call distribution (ACD) and computer telephony integration (CTI). Staff can be trained to offer services in a wide variety of languages.

find a call centre that operates a bureau service. Firms also benefit from best of breed technologies. one of the main strengths of an outsourced call centre lies in its ability to provide businesses with a seamless. If so. You might find out that they have other clients in direct competition with you. Companies benefit from economies of scale. And if the call centre simply acts as a "front face". in terms of staff. Advisors must be able to resolve billing enquiries . It's very easy to miss the outsourced call centre out of the communication loop. which leads to confusion and misunderstandings. when all you really want is extra resource that mirrors exactly what you have found works perfectly well for you. What happens when the client expects too much? If customers are calling because there is something fundamentally wrong with the service or product. Bear in mind too that if you have low call volumes. Alternatively. Flows of communication can also be a problem issue. Obviously. cost-effective extension of their own services through complete accountability and reliability. Can you trust your service provider to deliver service of the same quality as your own call centre? Can you call on them at any time to help out when you require extra capacity without having to go through a time-wasting. You might be concerned how your IT systems will be integrated with the outsourced specialist's own technology. So plan your communication processes. with one advisor handling calls on behalf of several different clients. Be wary of the outsourced specialist that wants to re-engineer your processes. experience and . as well as expertise. All too often there is a temptation for the call centre just to handle the calls. you are only duplicating work (and cost) if that call then has to be redirected back to the client. Remember. it's essential for the front and back offices to be integrated. dedicated outsourcing may not be costeffective. Another strength lies in its ability to add value as the relationship develops. The cost obviously varies according to the number of calls and agents involved. buildings and technology.or allow customers to place an order there and then. your corporate culture and your IT systems. complicated process? Your supplier should not only understand your business in great detail but also your customer contact management processes. After all. All that happens is that the customer is one step further from having their problem resolved. Potential conflict is another cause for concern. take on more people and provide the service yourself. giving all calls equal priority. the customer must always remain the focus. outsourcing won't resolve the issue.

as well as now. there are risks in outsourcing.knowledge. Don't be drawn in to add-ons you don't really need. Some people point to the growing list of companies that are taking back some or all of their offshored call-center positions as proof that the practice may have drawbacks. And last but not least . there is a likeability factor involved!  On and Offshore: Call Center Economics   The following is an extract from the article "On and Offshore: Call Center Economics" by Denis Pombriant from CRM Buyer: "Much heat.their mainstream business. Ensure that your chosen partner works with you to explore opportunities that add real value to the end company Visit your outsourcing partner frequently .can you really work with these people for the length of the contract? After all. Without doubt. companies can focus on what they do best . and there is evidence to support most opinions. And importantly. did they evolve from a telecoms company providing innovative telecommunications and technology or out of a direct marketing agency. Like blind men trying to describe an elephant by touching and describing various parts.   Moving Back On Shore Offshoring is certainly one way for companies to save money. is emanating from this season's political debate about the offshoring of American jobs. and little light. choose a specialist in a location where resource costs are relatively lower Make sure you choose the right partner . . For example. by outsourcing their call centre needs.find out how they evolved. researchers and commentators have come up with very different assessments and conclusions.and talk to your customers to assess their effectiveness. but the savings are nugatory without happy customers. TEN TOP TIPS           Understand the real costs of running your own call centre versus outsourcing If you do decide to outsource. Just pay for what you want Make sure that existing processes and systems are fully integrated. offering fulfilment and data mining? Agree service levels and expectations so you can measure the supplier's performance Remain focused on your objectives. so you can identify strengths and weaknesses. Don't let the outsourced call centre simply be the front face Ensure your outsourced supplier can enhance your ability to meet customer communication needs in the future . But the important factor is to avoid the pitfalls and reap the benefits.

Dell isn't alone. economy has replaced manufacturing with high-tech and service jobs. While the This has led to a now decades- .Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) took back call center operations from an Indian outsource vendor late last year when CIO Randy Mott determined there were too many complaints from customers of the fast-growing Optiplex desktop and Latitude laptop product lines. According to the New York Times. and other industries like electronics have been almost completely moved off shore. He called their service "sponge listening" because the agents soak in the complaint but do nothing about it. others point out that losing jobs can not go on indefinitely without adverse effects. he put his office on the floor above the call center and installed his own direct line so he could listen in on calls and keep tabs on what was on his customers' minds. economy? On that question there is little agreement.   Economic Effects How does offshoring affect the overall U. A case in point is the offshoring of manufacturing that started in the 1960s. Newsday reported on September 9 that North Fork Bank was taking back 80 call center jobs from India because the new CEO. Kanas is something of a fanatic about customer service. And it's not just big companies that are taking back big call center functions. has a bias for doing things in-house. While some say the United States will generate more jobs than it loses. At 89 years old. a Dell customer complained that the agents on the other end of the line were unable to help. but not without considerable dislocation in the short term. he will publish an article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives later this month. The movement has accelerated to the point that foreign competitors now stand on an equal footing in industries like auto manufacturing. In one article posted at CNN. The Times says that Samuelson's article challenges the assumption that the economy will benefit in the long run from offshoring service jobs like call center and software development. John Kanas. The distinguished economist Paul A. According to Newsday. The man deserves a Nobel Prize. many of the new service jobs have paid substantially less.S. Historically the gains to the American economy have offset the losses. In July Delta Airlines took back services it had contracted to two Indian call centers because some customers complained about the operators' accents. the emeritus professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is still an active participant in economic debates. Samuelson is counted among the latter group.S.

Now China and India are building an increasingly skilled and technologically savvy work force. Other familiar complaints are the lack of status or promotion and insufficient training. Working 7.. In an article titled "Greying of India's Call Centres. workers to worry about job security .." reporter Sunil Raman says that despite relatively high wages. then. In fact.a sure recipe for burnout. who tend to be more stable. some Indian call centers have resorted to hiring older workers. some economists take a more sanguine view of offshoring. the BBC reported."     Is Outsourcing Becoming Outmoded? The following is an extract from the article "Is Outsourcing Becoming Outmoded?" by Bruce Nussbaum from CRM Buyer: " The demand for English-speaking service workers in Bangalore is so high that GE as well as Infosys Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services are now looking outside major Indian cities to set up new call centers and other operations because they can't recruit enough college-educated people.   The One-Handed Economist But economists have a penchant for seeing both sides of a question. But it will be years before we know the truth. .. turnover rates at call centers can reach as high as 50 percent -.. As the Times has pointed out. The same is true in China. The phrase "on the other hand" crops up so often in the field that President Harry Truman once asked his staff to find "a one-handed economist. By then we could find that another industry has left these shores. But they also tend to be harder to train. no country is brimming with people waiting to be call center agents.   Indian Burnout Does any society or culture have a lock on doing call center work well? According to the BBC News. even Indian call center agents get burned out. a professor at Columbia University and a respected international economist. said he disagrees with Samuelson. In an interview with the New York Times.old stagnation in the spending power of the average paycheck. Samuelson protege Jagdish N.. Bhagwati. As a partial fix.000 miles away from your customers means working at night -." Not surprisingly. he has written a new book on the subject called In Defense of Globalization.a number that will not shock managers of American call centers.S. causing many U.

accounting. in other words.000 a year (what I made in my first year in business journalism out of graduate school in the late '70s).increasingly higher compensation. these Web-savvy men and women just have to check the human-resources Web sites of Western companies to see what their counterparts are making. While reliable statistics on Chinese engineers are hard to come by. Why? Simply put. they've been demanding -.000 a year in Shanghai. India. and Asia is shrinking. As U. but they quickly add that "the gains of the American winners are big enough to more than compensate for the losers. it's a safe bet that they're making a multiple of that salary. Trade.. as their rising compensation proves." Samuelson writes.S. But the surge in companies going to India. the Nobel laureate in economics and professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology .S..and getting -.. demand for folks to work at these centers has soared.General Electric's (NYSE: GE) announcement that it plans to sell its entire businessprocessing operation in India for a cool $1 billion raises the interesting question of whether the offshoring phenomenon may be peaking. Paul Samuelson. The demand for English-speaking service workers in Bangalore is so high that GE as well as Infosys Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services are now looking outside major Indian cities to set up new call centers and other operations because they can't recruit enough college-educated people. medical-service. does not always work to all parties' advantage. and legal-service business overseas." That assumption is "only an innuendo. Pay scales are rising fast in India and China for college-educated. One reasonable estimate has good software writers probably making around $20. English-speaking professionals. China. The same is true in China.   Searching for Talent Chinese wages for skilled talent and college-educated workers have been running up sharply in recent years. . and Eastern Europe in search of very cheap brainpower may soon be coming to an end -.far sooner than anyone has anticipated. still seems to have plenty of intellectual edge and ample ability to antagonize and amuse. design. you go where the best talent is -. At 89. the wage gap between the U. What does that tell you? Most of the best and brightest Indians and Chinese are already fully employed and are negotiating higher wages and benefits for their work."    A Dissenter on Outsourcing States His Case By ECT News Business Desk Mainstream economists acknowledge that some people will gain and others will suffer in the short term. Ditto for many hot-shot programmers in Bangalore. and European companies send more of their call-center. Middle managers in China are making about $9. And indeed they have.. Not that it will stop being an key part of corporations' global strategy.. In an integrated business world. After all.period. And since these Indians and Chinese aren't anyone's fools.

so widely shared by economists. according to Samuelson. "For it is dead wrong about necessary surplus of winnings over losings." Samuelson emphasized that his article was not meant as a justification for protectionist measures. "The Muddles Over Outsourcing. especially as the economies of China and India emerge on the strength of their low wage rates. is the assumption that the laws of economics dictate that the U. Arvind Panagariya of Columbia and T. cloaked in clever phrases and theoretical equations. increasingly skilled workers and rising technological prowess. These heavyweights. Samuelson writes.Gregory Mankiw. but they quickly add that "the gains of the American winners are big enough to more than compensate for the losers. . economy will benefit in the long run from all forms of trade.000 but it is influential in the economics profession. chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The Journal of Economic Perspectives. including the outsourcing of call-center and software programming jobs abroad." Trade. has a modest circulation of 21. Sure. Up to now. the gains to America have outweighed the losses from trade.   Simplistic Views of Globalization In an interview last week. among others. chairman of the Federal Reserve."   The Costs of Trade That untruth. does not always work to all parties' advantage. have already submitted an article to the journal. Samuelson said he had written the article to "set the record straight" because "the mainstream defenses of globalization were much too simple a statement of the problem. are perpetrators of what Samuelson terms "the popular polemical untruth. and Jagdish Bhagwati. Bhagwati and two other economics professors.N. the mainstream economists acknowledge that some people will gain and others will suffer in the short term. in other words.S. but that outcome is not necessarily guaranteed in the future. but clearly aimed at the orthodoxy: Alan Greenspan." Samuelson writes." that is partly a response to Samuelson. is "only an innuendo. Srinivasan of Yale. The essay is Samuelson's effort to contribute economic nuance to the policy debate over outsourcing and trade. a quarterly published by the American Economic Association. Indeed. he said. In his article. Samuelson begins by noting the unease many Americans feel about their jobs and wages these days. a leading international economist and professor at Columbia University. N.His dissent from the mainstream economic consensus about outsourcing and globalization will appear this month in a distinguished professional journal. Samuelson asserts in the article for the Journal of Economic Perspectives." That assumption.

The global spread of lower-cost computing and Internet communications. "He invented so many of the economic models that everyone uses. a low-wage country that is rapidly improving its technology . "And in markets like information technology services. could accelerate the pressure on wages across large swaths of the service One research group thinks that there will be at least 3.Mart does not necessarily make up for the wage losses. like India or China. managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Bhagwati does not dispute the model that Samuelson presents in his journal article. then you believe in the tooth fairy." Samuelson said.S. For his part. Wages According to Samuelson. and based on his own knowledge of developing nations. The magnified concern. The report. per capita income.cconvergence." he said.S. is that China takes away most of American manufacturing and India most of high-technology services business.   Exporting Jobs Lowers U. And not just because of offshore outsourcing. The Vertical Guide to . it is true that if skills build up abroad that narrows our competitive advantage and our exports will be hit.000 fewer call centers in the US by 2008. "Being able to purchase groceries 20 percent cheaper at Wal." But Bhagwati doubts whether the Samuelson model applies broadly to the economy. where America has a big advantage. Bhagwati said.The Samuelson critique carries added weight given the stature of the author. he concludes that outsourcing worries are greatly exaggerated. he noted. Call center numbers and agent positions in the United States are to take tumble according to new research by independent market analysis firm Datamonitor. "If you don't believe that changes the average wages in America." he observed. Looking at the small number of jobs actually sent abroad.   Outsourcing Worries Overblown? "Paul is great economist and a terrific theorist." he said in the interview. has the potential to change the terms of trade with America in fields like call-center services or computer programming in ways that reduce U." noted Timothy Taylor. Call Center Industry Trends The Vanishing American Call Center www. "Paul and I disagree only on the realistic aspects of this.

.72 million APs spread through 47. newly built call centers but also nearshore outsourcing from the US. Recently. says that Canada will be the major benefactor of America's loss." says Mark Best. Is Pacific Northwest Next Big Call Center Spot? The following is an extract from the article "Is Pacific Northwest Next Big Call Center Spot?" by Elizabeth Millard from CRM Buyer: "After years of job losses due to the decline in the manufacturing and lumber industries. the report also says more efficient technologies are playing their part in this overall decline. Oregon seems to have more pull when it comes to new centers being put in. by Datamonitor's count. along with the effects of the federal do-not-call list and offshore outsourcing.600 call centers. Royal Caribbean chose the state for a new 1.86 million agent positions (APs) in 50. striking-off yet another of several tasks that would have been executed by the call center agent.for instance a change of address call or balance inquiry . "This. Washington.000 APs. India. Datamonitor call center analyst and author of the study. "Advanced routing technologies enable call center agents to work more efficiently. By 2008. Technologies that allow callers to resolve their call automatically . This will be due in part to natural growth of existing call centers. the Pacific Northwest may be seeing a bright spot for growth as call centers target the region. Mexico and the Philippines. Datamonitor attributes a large proportion of this decrease to the outsourcing of customer services to popular nearshore/offshore locations like Canada. Indeed." he adds.improve agent productivity and mean that call centers need to employ less labor.500 call centers. The United States currently houses 2. the federal do-not-call list has curtailed telemarketing campaigns.000-job call center that would be the company's West Coast service center. including better tax breaks and investment for infrastructure costs.Contact Centers in North America to 2008. Oregon won the business over Spokane. Furthermore. However. Datamonitor expects Canada to sprout 800 new call centers between now and 2008 and 93. Datamonitor expects this to shrink to 2. will cause the total number of agent positions in the American call center industry to decline through 2008. when it proved to have a sweeter incentive deal for Royal Caribbean.

Building Up Springfield. 83 percent of participants in a 2003 Aberdeen Group survey said their contact center is critical or important to their enterprise . You need to deal with the constant challenge .. you operate in a challenging economic reality that makes it imperative to do more -. World-class contact centers are not only dealing with these issues effectively but are also seizing this opportunity to extend their service-based competitive advantage and operational excellence. When the plan was revealed. ending months of speculation that the company might yank jobs from the city. is the city most likely to be Royal Caribbean's West Coast home. Bank and others were bringing more call center jobs into the region." he told CRM Buyer. Dakotah Direct announced it would add about 800 full-time call center jobs in Spokane over the next few months. as contact center managers. Qwest announced that it would expand its customer service operation in Portland. Jon Eliassen.. call center arrangements have also been announced this year. "We've seen more jobs exit than come in.. Oregon.. and city manager Mike Kelly noted that the deal is welcome. president of the Spokane Area Economic Development Council. Most recently.. However. Survey after survey continues to confirm that contact centers are critical to customer retention and growth. In Washington state.and better -." Several other call center deals have given Oregon hope that more call centers will be attracted to the state as well. it is likely that the two states will be jockeying for top position as the region's best call center location. U. In June. said it was notable that a number of companies like Dakota. In fact. Oregon that would have 500 employees.S. In July. "Our area has had an export of jobs in the past five years.As the competition heats up for job creation. particularly in today's business environment." Contact Center Knowledge Management: New Relevance By ECT News Syndication Desk There's good news. Wachovia indicated it would close two of its East Coast call centers and open a location in Salem.with less. so having someone locate here is symbolically important as well as economically. due to industry restructuring.

you are asked to consolidate contact centers in a seamless manner. and . people and best practices to power their customer interactions and attain these objectives. and new or complementary products and services in the context of service interactions. Among them:  Enhanced agent productivity. is that you are open to learning -. technologies. And as your business goes through mergers and acquisitions or seeks to further improve efficiencies. as customers start to trust the quality of service in those channels. interaction mode (self.. e-mail). while allowing you to hire agents from a bigger and less expensive labor pool. of course. Web. Knowledge Management But there's good news. knowledge management in the context of customer service and contact center operations can deliver an array of business benefits. Virtually overnight. Consistent service.and applying -. Knowledge management ensures that customers with the same question receive the same response. The resulting service consistency not only increases customer satisfaction . These contact centers are leveraging a new generation of knowledge management strategies. agents can use the opportunity to provide the customer relevant information about upgrades. regardless of agent. processes. Perhaps you may also be tasked with transforming your service operation from a cost center to a profit center. you may actually find yourself confronted with the challenge of training a whole new crew of agents on the intricacies of your company's offerings. policies and customer communication best practices. Improving the performance of level-one agents increases first-time resolutions and reduces escalations. interaction channel (e. World-class contact centers are not only dealing with these issues effectively but are also seizing this opportunity to extend their service-based competitive advantage and operational excellence.g.knowledge management principles and best practices in your contact center. There's no better time to sell something to customers than when they have just received high-quality service. A world-class knowledge management deployment empowers all contact center agents with knowledge. phone. which calls for your service force to evolve into a true-blue "sales and service" force. Done right. making each agent as productive as your best agent. assisted or proactive service) or even service organization (in-house or outsourced).of keeping agents up-to-date as your company's offerings continue to proliferate. Thanks to knowledge management. The inherent assumption. but also helps divert a significant amount of call center traffic to less costly electronic channels like email and Web self-service .   Revenue generation. You need to wrestle with hot issues like global outsourcing .

but full of holes. the first challenge in the knowledge management process involves building a team of individuals with specific roles to play -. And. maintaining service quality and enforcing compliance with corporate policies and best practices. Depending on the scope of the project and the size of the contact center.that's where knowledge-guided selling can help. If users are unable to . tempted by the persuasive economics of offshore contact centers. since overly ambitious and unfocused deployments will result in a knowledge base that is solid in places. This section provides a brief summary of these practices. users and an author. enabling support-oriented agents to sell unobtrusively yet effectively. which topics will be covered and to what extent. outsourcing. Best Practices World-class contact center knowledge implementations have yielded best practices over the years. of course. presents the huge challenges of agent training. However. In fact.  Seamless consolidation. Also. The lead expert decides how the knowledge base will be organized. guiding agents to the right information and answers -. Users are call center agents who have good performance records and can provide suggestions. making its ROI even more compelling.  Team building. A knowledge management system can be an indispensable enabler in facilitating these consolidations. and also end-customers. Knowledge management can increase the odds of outsourcing success by reducing the need for agent training. a knowledge-powered outsourcing model can drive service efficiencies and allow you to negotiate lower prices for outsourced services. a lead expert. especially in self-service projects. the project manager keeps it on track and within scope. It's critical to carefully define and stick to the scope of the knowledge base project. whether it's onshore. The agents in these consolidated centers need to be able to provide high-quality service across a broad spectrum of product and service offerings. If the project scope is limited.upsell/cross-sell to add to your top-line revenue. Mergers and acquisitions have become rampant in the current business environment. one person may play multiple roles. Knowledge authors are individuals who are technically trained in using authoring tools.typically a project manager. Companies are jumping on the outsourcing bandwagon. it's not necessarily true that agents who excel at service and support can also sell effectively -.  Outsourcing success.all within a corporate policy and interaction compliance framework. leaving contact center and operational managers to deal with the daunting task of consolidating contact centers.  Setting content and time boundaries. near-shore or offshore. many of which they are not familiar with.

Ensuring that the experts in any company are really "in touch" with the issues even the most nontechnical customers face. Different users. based on its performance. it's advisable to cover desktop PCs first. Leveraging a common knowledge management platform. And knowledge content needs to be managed on an ongoing basis. if the deployment appears to be falling behind schedule. or find wrong answers. you may want to allow agents and even external users to make suggestions or contribute new content. a dialogbased path to content may be more suitable for novice agents and end-customers looking to get answers to complex inquiries. and then peripherals and accessories. It's important that you use the same knowledge content across interaction channels. agents and service organizations to ensure service consistency. As customers increasingly demand service through multiple channels and interaction modes. it's important that robust workflow and automation capabilities are used to create. Keep the user and usage scenarios in mind as you implement access methods. In the case of a multi-product business. and there are reasons for not leaving this decision to content experts alone. Furthermore. narrowing the scope of the knowledge base and finishing on schedule is the best way to proceed. is as important as ensuring that these technically competent individuals contribute to the knowledge base. Similarly. It is critical for organizations to set up a review process for approving knowledge content. For instance. they will quickly stop using the system.  Providing the right content-access methods.  Managing the experts. Therefore. then move on to laptops."  Controlling the content. say a computer manufacturer. rather than attempt to support them all at once. For instance.find answers to their problems. a "silo" approach to knowledge management is not the best way to maximize knowledge ROI.  . the longer it takes to achieve ROI. maintain and evolve content over time. and for management to alleviate any concerns such individuals may have of "being replaced by a machine. The longer it takes to get the system up and running. access methods. and a search access to the same content may be more suitable for highly knowledgeable or level-two agents. improve service consistency and present one face to customers. Another best practice in this area is for enterprises to create incentives for domain experts to share their knowledge freely without fear of being replaced. It's always possible to expand the scope later. problems and service situations call for different access methods to knowledge content. authorize. which would need to be approved by authorized individuals in your organization. so that these issues are captured in the knowledge base in the first place. content exposed to customers could have legal or safety implications.

Second. the last two goals conflict with the first one. agent training time and staff wages. also known as the "right answer" focus: The shorter the duration of the call. Enter the need for metrics -. since they require longer handle times. customer retention: Educating customers about unused features can result in greater consumer acceptance and lower churn. and knowledge management is no exception. In these instances.that serve as the basis for establishing business value. Toyota revolutionized automobile production by improving the operation of their assembly line. Strategic metrics. in the case of self-service implementations. Among them: reduced customer churn. and reduced need for assisted service through self-service. increased customer satisfaction and retention. content and processes that tie best with its prioritized business objectives. Internet service provision or mobile telephony. the contact center has to use metrics. incorrect transfers. upselling and cross-selling: At times. Toyota implemented justin-time inventory principles and set higher quality standards. the lower the cost to the enterprise. end-to-end call handle times. In the present economic climate. The efficiencies achieved by eliminating the need to store excess inventory and correct manufacturing defects resulted in drastic reductions in operating costs. These metrics fall into two broad categories: Operational metrics.   Possible Conflicts Some of these metrics may conflict with one another. and contact center profitability. project managers must demonstrate compelling business value. Sample metrics are the reduction of repeat calls. Determining the business value of knowledge.   As an example.and measurements -. these metrics are strategic to businesses. Third. Latest Call Center Articles Telecom Expense Reduction: It's Not Just About Rates by: Richard Simons During the 1980s. Hardest to measure. Take the case of a technology subscription environment like cable TV. Rather than trying to find cheaper labor and parts. an increase in first-time fix and revenue generated. the best solution to a customer's problem is selling that customer a higher tier of service or an add-on product. . particularly in the short run. There are usually three competing goals:  Speed of problem resolution.

In the case of chargebacks. Part of the savings is achieved by using the aggregating and processing power of these systems to uncover otherwise-hidden usage trends. If an analysis reveals large combined call volumes to the UK from multiple business units or company offices. Fringe benefits include a complete audit trail to satisfy Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. ensure contract compliance. plus a roadmap that ties directly into the expenses being stated on a company's general ledger. A July 2004 Aberdeen Group study concluded that companies that are leveraging technology to manage telecom costs are realizing average savings of 26%. real savings can be found by improving operational efficiency.Toyota's example triggered massive changes in the manufacturing industry as a whole. These systems then provide a series of online tools that enable users to sort and manipulate that pooled data to compare rates. for example. That information can then be used as leverage in negotiating lower rates or as a catalyst for switching services altogether. Hard and Soft Savings Organizations that have adopted these systems are cutting their telecom bills substantially. It reminds us that while rate drops for phone and data services are becoming less frequent. and it offers an important lesson for corporate managers charged with the task of taming telecommunications expenses. to tracking and charging back those costs. companies can realize tremendous savings by changing the way they manage telecommunications spending. providing the opportunity to recoup millions in corrected billings alone. examine calling patterns. If phone traffic between company offices in Seattle and New York is through the roof. companies utilizing manual methods reported an average savings of just 18%. managers may be able to negotiate a lower US-to-UK rate. In contrast. The same Aberdeen study mentioned above reported that 50% of invoices are inaccurate. identify billing errors. allocate expenses by department. Other hard savings stem from the systems' ability to detect billing errors and other problems. track telecom assets. and much more. New Internet-based systems hold the key to these savings by making it possible to quickly aggregate all telecom spending into a central database via direct data feeds from the organization or its telecom providers. for example. they may decide to negotiate a fixed fee or perhaps install a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system for those calls to cut costs. From ordering telecom services. These systems also yield important soft savings by significantly reducing the time required to manage telecom-related activities. these solutions can automatically report telecom fees by .

000 managers are able to view their respective departments' telecom spending and assigned chargebacks through a suite of Web-based telecommunications cost management solutions offered on a hosted basis by MBG. Inc. and users can drill down into each category to see the supporting details as a means of verifying costs and identifying abnormalities and errors. nearly 2. Department managers in this firm are using the system to confirm that their departments are being billed correctly. the emergence of "telemanagement" as a way to squeeze maximum savings out of the telecom budget was a case of necessity being the mother of invention. This not only expedites the chargeback process but also allows charges to be assigned to the right department to the penny . These contracts therefore became very . During the era of sharp price reductions in telecommunications rates. First.something that is literally impossible in a large company without automation. But when the rate reductions began drying up. companies started to look more closely at their bills to find alternative savings opportunities. senior purchasing team members negotiated the best rates with multiple carriers and simply accepted the bills as they received them. This cottage industry of telecom auditors often charged for their services as a percentage of the discrepancies they uncovered. The Birth of `Telemanagement' As with many innovations. Today. In this company. This company is also tracking and doing chargeback of IT costs through the same system. in turn. eliminating the need to administer separate chargeback solutions for telecom and computer services. Falling rates caused by stiff competition in the telecom industry during the 1980s and 1990s also made the search for additional savings a low priority. purchasing and telecom managers ignored these potential savings because of the complexity and time involved in tracking and analyzing telecommunications spending particularly in large multi-national organizations. are tapping into the system to compare rates across the entire company and use that information to negotiate better rates across the board. monitor individual usage to detect personal calls that need to be reimbursed. Chargeback data is passed through to the company's general ledger for seamless integration with accounting systems. Consider the case of one Fortune 500 company that has embraced Internet-based telecom spending management. Charges are broken down into categories. and so on.department and post them to the general ledger through the company's ERP system. companies are recognizing the need to control telecom costs in other ways. with rates relatively stable and cheaper plans much harder to come by. they turned to outside auditors with expertise in telecom billing to find billing errors and recoup those dollars. One Fortune 500's Experience For years. Telecom supervisors.

lucrative. requires a service provider with years of experience and deep roots in the telecommunications community.including a level of detail that was never before available . Call Centers Bring Strength. Inc. As Toyota and countless other manufacturers have demonstrated. Just as new processes and technologies gave Toyota the visibility into manufacturing expenditures that was required to make just-in-time inventory a reality. . in turn. Richard Simons is the Chief Operating Officer of MBG. her goal was to buy a car so she wouldn't have to drive her mother's Dodge Dart anymore. With the proper infrastructure and guidance. With telecom ranking as one of the top five corporate expenses. but the real breakthrough came with the advent of the Internet and the Application Service Provider (ASP) model that eliminated the need for in-house software installation and other infrastructure investments as well as personnel to manage well as the ability to handle all analysis and other tasks without resource-intensive manual operations. Auditors only searched for billing errors. Economic Possibilities By GUY BOULTON gboulton@tampatrib. TAMPA . But there was a missing link in this approach. Automated telecom expense management is not plug-andplay technology. companies now have the information they need to make more intelligent decisions about their telecom services .When Rhonda Noland went to work for insurance giant USAA in the summer of 1973 after graduating from Brandon High School. They did not provide a complete picture of telecommunications spend across the entire organization. however. companies began realizing that they needed to see the big picture in telecom spending before they could identify new ways to save. it is difficult to imagine a more important area for implementing sophisticated cost controls. Beyond Technology One note of caution is in order here. With this model. It requires a thorough understanding of where to look for savings as well as the proper tools to take advantage of those opportunities. a Web-based Application Service Provider of telecommunications and IT expense management solutions. Some vendors began developing installed software that could do the job. the returns can be significant. once a process is improved. It is not just about aggregating invoices and making the results available through the corporate intranet. the bottom-line benefits can be enormous to large companies that typically spend between $75 and $500 million in telecom services annually.

including technology. The company paid for her college education. Ford Motor Credit Co. an accounting and consulting firm. announced in July that it was eliminating about 1.000 a year.'' Gray explains. according to a survey by Deloitte & Touche. trained and promoted her. employs 1.450 jobs at its call center here. A survey by the Tribune in 2000 counted almost 100 companies with support operations in the region. USAA's center is an example. says Gene Gray.500 at three sites. and many centers have a job and pay mix. ``We live in a fairly integrated global economy. USAA runs one of dozens of call centers in the Tampa area. employs about 500. Our abundance of call centers could be a future vulnerability.`` says Mark Amen.271 in Riverview. The centers have helped diversify the area's economy and have created jobs for people with a variety of skills. director of economic development for Hillsborough County.100 of 1.'' Noland says. with good benefits and bonuses. But the category isn't well defined.$20.500. Such operations in other cities have been susceptible to relocation overseas. insurance customers and air travelers. Greater Tampa led the country in call center jobs. of the Globalization . Call centers generally don't pay well . Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. More than 1. ``I have never thought I have been underpaid here. Capital One didn't say where they were going.'' Noland says of going to work for USAA. Salaries start at $25.000 to $25. Most earn $30. employs 484 in Tampa and 2.000 to $45. Time Customer Service employs 1. Capital One Financial Corp. And that's just a sampling. ``It was one of the best decisions I've made. Noland now earns a solid middle-class income as a claims service manager. Household International Inc.000. magazine subscribers. but employees speculated that it might be somewhere like India or the Philippines. ``It's a technology-based operation.The Pontiac she bought turned out to be a lemon. workplaces where rows of people wearing headsets sit at computer screens fielding calls from credit card holders. It dominates the list of companies that have set up operations here since 1990.300 at two sites. From 1997 to 2000. But the job turned out to be a career.000 people work at a Home Depot call center in Tampa.

Except that this time application service providers are building on their success with hosted CRM applications and jockeying for position in the budding computer telephony service provider market. ``And I don't see that being reversed. otherwise known as the hosted contact center market.first came to open call centers. its Tampa office had 30 people. In the article "Hosting Hits Call Centers" David Myron states: "The ASP industry is at it again. married and raised two children now in college. Noland's tenure with the company is a rarity in today's economy. The success of hosted customer service providers like RightNow Technologies has piqued the interest of both on-demand CRM vendors like Salesforce..Research Center at the University of South Florida.'' Call Center Hosting Services Call center hosting is the latest attraction in the ASP model.`` says Kim Scheeler. president of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. ``I just feel fortunate that my path led me here. of The Wadley. to build your corporate presence. Along the way she has fallen in love. . Several companies that now employ thousands in good-paying jobs here .'' says Bill Fredrick. Now it employs and traditional licensed software vendors like Siebel Systems. Customer service is now being outsourced more than ever before. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Siebel wasted no time in becoming a first mover with its acquisition of Ineto Services. the centers may have been a necessary step in the region's economic evolution.`` But local economic development people don't expect the other centers here to leave en masse.450.among them Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.S. ``It's just been a great ride. ``I don't think we are going to see the elimination of every call center job in the U. CitiGroup Inc.. a corporate consultant.Donovan Group. ``It's a step you go through to build your base. Whatever their future. Eventually she even found the right car trading her Pontiac for a Chevrolet. When Noland went to work for USAA 31 years ago. Companies are moving call centers to developing countries to cut costs.'' Noland says. a hosted .

These costs can add up. such as call center telephony. CTI. CRM analytics. as well as its hosted voice and e-service solutions. and email capabilities. implementation. per month. into Salesforce. The arrangement presents Genesys' call center hardware and software in a hosted delivery model (provided by White Pajama. chat. per month. Web. "It's not so much that the market is exploding again as that companies that bought the basics are now going back for the add-on offerings. vice president and research director at Forrester Research. This.telephony company. Echopass. But after factoring in Echopass's TeleCenter. for example. A hosted call center solution enables organizations to save on costly call center hardware and software. . because Siebel acquired Ineto and can more tightly integrate the's Enterprise Edition. Genesys Telecommunications Labs recently partnered with hosted call center company White Pajama and Salesforce." The overarching issue with hosted customer service solutions is their ability to integrate with the CRM application." says Erin Kinikin. a hosted call center solution especially makes sense. an Ineto competitor) and links into Salesforce. etcetera. announced the integration of its hosted call center solution. However. configuration. vice president and general manager of Siebel OnDemand." Although the Ineto acquisition was small in size--Ineto had only 15 employees--it was big in stature. TeleCenter. and ongoing management--and that does not include the integration with CRM and analytical systems. according to such as integrated voice. For example. "The Ineto acquisition is incredibly strategic for us in that it's game-changing. For those organizations that have already bought into the hosted's Enterprise's Enterprise Edition for customer reporting purposes. "What we're now seeing is that there are enough hosted implementations to drive a new round of additional hosted services. such as automatic call distributors. Additionally. which costs roughly $125 per user. especially considering that some companies may have to shell out $1 million on the technology. is why some hosted customer service solutions will cost substantially more than others. The acquisition enables Siebel to tie hosted call center telephony services. the total cost can reach as much as $400 per user. per month. and interactive voice response systems. and it didn't take long before others followed suit. "Now we can build world class call centers integrated with CRM. it can offer Siebel's Contact OnDemand and CRM OnDemand for $150 per agent. into its hosted CRM applications." says Ken Rudin. removing the costly burden of call center computer telephony integration (CTI) implementations. Echopass integrates with Salesforce.

By 2007 there will be 40.2 million agent positions in the region.000 (12 percent) are currently outsourced to a third party within EMEA.000 by 2007--16 percent of all agent positions in the region. Selland adds that because Siebel acquired Ineto. it can provide tighter integration between its products. Goad says. significantly above the EMEA average of 14 percent. and handing customer service over to a company that has been doing it for 15 years makes more sense. Datamonitor predicts this number will have almost doubled to 290. offshore hosting is expected to surge in EMEA. North Africa. People are pretty much looking for expertise. Goad adds that although companies are farming out high volume/low value customers ." However. Africa and The Middle East are seeing the highest growth rates."If the product is not provisioned to be hosted. and Africa (EMEA) over the next five years. For most companies. India. "The cheaper companies can serve their customers." says Robin Goad. Goad expects some 60. the Middle East." says Chris Selland. and South Africa. and also stay knowledgeable on various cultural items relating to the region they support. it's expensive to be hosted. A call center outsourcing company understands best practices and invests more money in how they train their agents. Although Goad says some major customer concerns of offshore outsourcing are agent accents and cultural differences. Some of the regions warming up to offshore outsourcing include Eastern Europe. "running call centers is not their core competency. managing analyst of CRM at Datamonitor. According to the report. The number of offshoreoutsourced agent positions in Africa and the Middle East will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22 percent between 2002--2007." EMEA Call Center Outsourcing Is Primed For Growth The following is an extract from the article "EMEA Call Center Outsourcing Is Primed For Growth" written by David Myron from CRM Magazine: "Research firm Datamonitor today released a report that underscores the growth of call center outsourcing in Europe. vice president of sell-side research at Aberdeen. "Call Center Outsourcing in EMEA." of the nearly 1.000 offshore-outsourced agent positions in the region. referring to Genesys' solutions being retrofitted for the Echopass hosted model. South America. he says offshore agents are often trained on the local accents and dialects of the regions they support. the higher the margins will be on service. Additionally. the report states. 150.000 of the EMEA agents to support offshore clients by 2007.

the industry will witness a shakeout. contact center staff attrition rates in India have risen from 25% to 30% During the dot com boom. says this is resulting in shrinking margins and questions as to who will survive the inevitable shakeout. 60% less than average Western agents salaries. Over the past year. and 18% from Europe. India‟s location of 4-5 hours ahead of Western Europe and 10-13 hours ahead of North America makes it an ideal location. In addition to auxiliary training provided to all agents. the highly fragmented Indian outsourcing marketplace of today will be dominated by large Indian IT conglomerates. smaller Indian specialists and large Western multi-national companies (MNCs) using India as a base for the business process outsourcing (BPO) practices. “Indian Contact Center Outsourcing: Surviving the Shakeout. the labor seller‟s market caused both contact center agent salaries and attrition rates in Western locations to skyrocket. and spinning off their contact center operations or turning over management of their customer care offering to other third-party outsourcers. Datamonitor predicts that in five years... Indian agents earn an estimated $2700 a year.. states that in two to three years. and continue to support larger clients a third party call center. most outsourced Indian contact centers currently operate during the evening in order to handle the load of European and American calls. call centers in the region are also well equipped with the latest technology.” which focuses particularly on the competitive dynamics of this constantly evolving marketplace. Indian contact centers have access to over 250 million English-speakers and more importantly a pool of 15 million Indian college graduates a year. In fact." Report Predicts Big Shakeout in Indian Call Center Outsourcing Market Datamonitor Newcomers to the Indian outsourcing market are utilizing aggressive strategies. many companies in EMEA are not willing to hand over their high valued--clients. a new report by independent market analyst Datamonitor. The report. such as significantly discounting services.. to grab a piece of the $400 million market. driven largely by consulting companies exiting the contact center outsourcing market. However.. Enter Indian outsourcers. . 78% from the US.

with BPO dollar signs in their eyes have begun to set up their own centers in India. Customer service and helpdesk activities combined account for 61% of total outsourced traffic. in fact. they have engaged in the poaching of agents from the local outsourcers. the majority of traffic being outsourced to India is service related. where helpdesk activities typically account for less than 10% of total traffic. As additional capacity is needed.000 agent positions in India devoted to offshore outsourcing. increasing the number of India-based . Poaching of agents from the local outsourcers is increasing both attrition rates and agent salaries for outsourcers Indian outsourcers as well as the Indian government have done a remarkable job getting the message out about the benefits of outsourcing to India. It is unsurprising that with the technical aptitude of Indian workers. such as Accenture.However over the past year. but through direct capital investment or via strong partnerships with onshore outsourcing service providers which resell Indian capacity. Currently. In a matter of a few months. what used to be an Indian contact center market dominated by third party outsourcers. that to the delight of the government and the chagrin of local Indian outsourcers. However Datamonitor expects the growth in both outsourcing contact centers and agent positions to begin to slow in 2005 as a result of an inevitable industry vendor shakeout that will be the consequence of current oversupply and shrinking margins ensuing from downward competitive pressures on pricing. Current oversupply and shrinking margins ensuing from downward competitive pressures on pricing taking their toll According to Datamonitor estimates. resulting in climbing attrition rates and agent salaries for outsourcers. attrition rates in India have risen to 30%. Seeking to shorten their time to market. there are currently over 250 contact centers and 51. followed by technology (27%) then retail (6%) are currently the top three industries that outsource traffic to Indian contact centers.000 agent positions by 2007. the number of contact centers and agent positions will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% and 19% respectively to reach 387 contact centers and 121. Financial services (53%). multinational consulting companies. an increasing number of Western companies are taking advantage of the benefits that India offers. not through outsourcing. So well. helpdesk activity as a proportion of total activity in India is significantly larger than Western markets. In addition. has seen the rush of Western MNCs locating their own facilities in India.

S. was way ahead as a location. Companies operating from locations with the best technological track record were predicted to benefit. Indian outsourcers. a leading provider of call center teleservices.K.K. looking to offer 24-hour customer service to its global customer base. INVEST IN BRITAIN BUREAU Research on the long march of call center technology last year showed a continuing British lead among major European countries as the continent faced massive growth in its computer telephone integration market. only to now be faced with under utilization. With far more workstations than any other country. serving not just the U. but the entire European market.K. American Express. A mutinational onshore vendor. Those without the resources to expand their global reach must become vertical specialists. the Indian outsourcing bubble is showing signs of contraction with some vendors shutting down operations and others being acquired by large Indian IT companies. The past year has seen one American company after another join the rush. Indian outsourcers must establish a global operational presence. such as Citigroup. firms running pan-European call centers from Britain. lead analyst of Datamonitor‟s call center research program comments: “Over the past year. TCS and TransWorks have all been acquired by larger IT firms. The country now has more than 4.000 communication centers. Chairman and chief executive John Brennan said: "We needed to expand our presence into a fast growing international market and London met our . and seven other European countries by the Datamonitor consultancy showed a major expansion of the market was imminent. Onshore outsourcers with an Indian presence or Indian vendors that are divisions of larger IT companies provide a greater sense of viability than stand-alone vendors without access to capital pools large enough to maintain survival during the Indian offshore outsourcing price wars. base in London with a scheduled workforce of 150. the U. Delta Air Lines. To make matters worse for Indian outsourcers. Mexico and India is much better positioned than an offshore vendor with operations located solely in India to win a contract from a large bank. Spectramind. and Alamo Rent-a-Car are among many big U. Brian Huff. which opened its first U. Intel. Among them was ICT Group. Canada. such as TeleTech. with centers in the US. Many prominent Indian business families ploughed investment into building contact centers in Indian hot spots. To effectively compete against mutinational outsourcers. based in many different regions and handling over 25 million telemarketing calls every week.K. A study of the U.centers competing for Indian labor and Western contracts.” Planning A European Call Center? Most Companies Look To Britain BY TONY MATTHEWS.

capital's outstanding air and transport links." Microsoft formed an alliance with two British companies to break into the U. customers expected a technical help line to be answered quickly by an IT expert who could resolve their problems in their native tongues. call center business. Asia and the US. set up a $48 million European operations center at Nottingham in the English midlands with a workforce 900 strong. QVC. Eager to break into the lucrative European market.200 with operations in Europe. an ideal business environment and excellent transport links. We believe its high quality business environment offers us significant prospects and we were attracted by the U. It opted for change and has never looked back.K. Scotland dates back three years.5 billion by the year 2000 . whose European HelpCenter at Greenock. Bill Gates predicted the call center market .already expected to exceed $3. in northwest England. Nottingham was selected as the preferred location as it has a highly qualified and enthusiastic workforce. staffed 24 hours a day. Examining customer care and cost issues. The centralized help desk offers common . the IBM personal systems group concluded the company needed a single-site help-line operation. Capital One.K. while the company itself has been in business there since l95l.criteria. focusing on selling low cost call centers to medium sized businesses unable to afford the technology for single operators to handle customer inquiries. competitively priced and advanced telecommunications and computer technology. and determined to meet growing demands. the television shopping channel. We established a pan-European call center at Greenock which now services customers in 16 countries with staff speaking 11 different languages. explains why the company chose to locate at Greenock in Scotland: Throughout Europe. the fast-growing credit card issuer. 365 days a year. Nigel Morris. expanded its call center near Liverpool. US software specialist Sykes Enterprises acquired multilingual call centers as part of a $120 million deal when it took over the British software distributor McQueen International and a work force of 1." Most of these are "new kids on the block" compared with IBM. and its flexible and highly professional workforce. and Colorado-based call center company Market Reach located a second facility in the country's southwest. Paul McNutt. president and chief operating officer. Its 325-seat call center was established when IBM looked at the way it was providing customer support right across Europe.could be even bigger if medium-sized businesses became involved. manager of IBM's pan-European HelpCenter. said: "After considering a number of proposals from other sites in the European Union.

The quicker information is gathered and centralized. German callers hear a German pulse. to share this information with other call center agents. Handling an average 2. Handlers have mother-tongue language skills and even telephone ringing tones match each country of origin: French callers hear a French calling tone. We had to decide whether to set up on a new stand-alone site or incorporate the center into an existing facility. the less time it takes to repair. Bringing support together means that IBM now has the ability not only to quickly inform manufacturing and development of potential hardware and software issues identified in products at an early stage but also. Although the center dealt originally with consumer customers. It was also vital that the location could offer a genuine choice of competitively priced telecoms carriers. early last year it expanded to also provide multilingual support for its business partners. of course. via a database. too. Despite having been based in Scotland for more than 40 years. This meant selecting a country that invested in and converted to digital exchanges. and advanced operating systems such as OS/2 Warp and NT. and consolidates the valuable information received from customers themselves. dealers and corporate customers. we looked at many other European countries in attempting to match our criteria for a pan-European call center. the Middle East and Africa are accepted if in English or sent as written requests. The HelpCenter has been so successful it was voted best of its kind by a newspaper in Switzerland. and deals with technical questions from business partners on Netfinity Servers. reduces administration costs.and better quality support. . modify or reconfigure hardware. answers queries on PCs. but there was more to it than that. it now supports all products from the personal systems group.000 calls a day. Not that Britain stood alone when IBM was considering where to locate the HelpCenter. offering excellent local back-up. Windows operating systems and any other bundled software. The right location had to be at the leading edge of telecommunications and deliver both competency and reliability. Operational costs had to be competitive. Callers in each country telephone a dedicated local number which is instantly rerouted to Greenock without the caller knowing they have made an international call (they are not charged international rates). which allows customers to dictate directly to their computers. and the center even deals with calls from North America for inquiries on voice recognition software. Support is also provided for the complete range of IBM speech products. Calls from Russia.

Its competitive environment has brought significant cost benefits. The Netherlands and the Irish Republic have both attracted many call centers. IBM opted for the U. As well as accommodating 325 people in a modern environment. the company worked closely with the nearby University of Paisley which. An excellent wider education system has also attracted large numbers of other European students to universities nearby. For IBM. especially the two main areas of concern: excellent and affordable telecoms. after full consideration. which is near Glasgow in Scotland. Finally.Recruiting. but only moderate IT knowledge. It had to be centrally located and have a transport infrastructure that could provide ease of travel to support a 24-hour.K. is clearly a great business location with competitive wages and operating costs.K. high caliber. or natives with the relevant language abilities. The future is very promising and the company is looking forward to further expansion. together with one of the lowest corporate tax levels in the European Union. Scotland alone produces over 650 language graduates every year. All of IBM's recruitment expectations have been fulfilled. multilingual graduates was essential. Ideally IBM was seeking a ready supply of candidates with language proficiency and a technical aptitude. with the remaining half recruited from abroad. Specifically targeted at graduates fluent in a major European language and wishing to pursue a career in the computer support industry. The U. However. Recognizing that many job applicants had first-class linguistic skills. Britain has low-cost. 365-day operation. training and retaining affordable. now offers Europe's first post-graduate diploma Masters in European information technology support. the chosen site would also have to provide ample car parking space. the location had to be close to a vibrant city. many of whom choose to stay in Britain following graduation. Around half of IBM's bilingual staff are from among Scotland's 170. .000 foreign nationals who come to Britain to study. and the ready availability of graduates with European language skills. further increasing the quality and size of the available labor pool. this has a replica facility of the IBM call center as a major feature of the course. It met all the criteria. language fluency and IT skills are the crucial mixture. making it one of Europe's cheapest countries for most telecommunications services. and provide a safe environment for young families. Amsterdam in particular benefiting from a largely multilingual population. a staff restaurant and social amenities. combined with some formal qualifications. making it especially attractive. since the average call center employee is aged between 23 and 30. and Greenock. as a result. offer an excellent choice of affordable housing. digitally-presented telephone lines and many telecoms providers. while a further 3000 students study European languages at the degree or post-graduate level in conjunction with a businessrelated subject.

the only direct person-to-person contact a customer may get with your business is with someone in a contact center. they can be dismissed with a little information. especially if they've never met him or her. Wales and Northern Ireland. whether it be customer service. desk. After all. Outlined here are four common concerns about outsourcing. While they are all valid. those savings dry up in a New York minute when all the factors are added in. and that first impression is laden with huge responsibilities. claims processing. chair. not to mention the actual salary for the actual employee. Managed by McNutt for over three years now. the HelpCenter has grown to over 300 agents providing multilingual telephone support for all of Western Europe. But in reality. The total value of sales generated by outsourcing providers has grown to more than a quarter trillion dollars a year. You will also need to shell out the necessary cash for the necessary conference rooms and break rooms. and the proper software and network access to properly connect with the customer. While you might save money in the short run. It has responsibility for England. Add to that the set up fee. The owner of a business can balk at paying a Customer Service Representaive (CSR) a substantial hourly fee. Four Arguments Against Outsourcing And Why They're Wrong The following is an extract from the article "Four Arguments Against Outsourcing And Why They're Wrong" by Paul Kowal from CRM Magazine: "Outsourcing providers are one of the hottest commodities in telemarketing today. or a retention service to an outside resource. Invest in Britain Bureau. Scotland.Paul McNutt is the manager of IBM's pan-European HelpCenter in Greenock. They're right to be nervous. and many employers start to look internally for resources they already pay for. each rep's workstation will need to come complete with a phone. 1. They are hesitant to turn over a telemarketing program. Isn't it cheaper to do in-house? This is a common concern. Outsourcing costs too much. many remain uneasy about outsourcing. Still. plus the health benefits you . lead generation. together with voice and electronic support to 64 countries worldwide. it can cost a great deal more to turn your staff into CSRs. First of all. Tony Matthews is assistant director of information. The Invest In Britain Bureau is the only organization representing the whole of the United Kingdom as the premier location for investment in Europe. in many cases.

you can adjust the levels as the job progresses. As for automated answering services. outsourcing allows you to obtain the latest in cutting-edge technology (such as equipment to make your contact center Web-enabled. such as automated answering services. 2. Here's an example: A company offering a non-branded.. even with the added telemarketing expense. not only do they tend to annoy customers more than help them (especially when they're looking for someone to talk to about a specific problem).. but nothing can replace live one-on-one conversation. a new program was put in place that started with reps calling prospective customers before the mailing and asking five profiling questions to customize the direct mail message.. and the total cost per sale was cut in half. But when without prior research obtained through supplemental market research. flat-rate long distance service started a direct mail campaign.. I don't need to outsource. direct mail can be a disaster. There's more. as well as a good deal cheaper. Just by speaking to a prospect. and additional costs per square foot for leaseholder improvements. Since you'll be using your own facility for telemarketing. meaning you have greater control over the costs. You also never have to worry about signing on too many or too few employees when you outsource. With direct mail and today's technologies. meaning employees can interact with customers through the Internet) without having to invest in an ever-changing technical world.would not ordinarily pay for when you outsource. Without brand awareness and with all the competitive clutter surrounding long distance marketing. offer or incentive to fit that prospect's needs. there's the added cost of office for the office space (several thousand for each CSR). this company had an abysmal response rate. Seeking help." Reducing the Risk of Outsourcing The following is an extract from the article "Reducing the Risk of Outsourcing" by Jason Compton from CRM Magazine: . It's true that many businesses are opting for direct mail over telemarketing. Where are the savings? In addition to saving money for the employee's pay and environment. feeling direct mail is less obtrusive. less than one half of one percent. The result? An estimated 70 percent of those called participated in the survey. a live CSR can configure the message.

Firm numbers on which sectors have developed a taste for call center outsourcing are elusive. you place the health and well-being of that relationship outside your direct control. It's more common to find companies adding an outsourcer for a particular new product line. many call center providers prefer to specialize their services. telemarketing-totech support service. e-mail and Web customer contacts. When SITEL went public in the mid '90s. the outsourcers have not yet displaced the traditional call center. their call volume was dominated by telemarketing engagements. <="" . with an outside vendor. even help desk and technical support services. SITEL. telecom and utilities industries head the client lists of a number of outsourcing specialists. and in some cases. president of teleservices consulting firm Kowal Associates. companies find that it's not a core competency to manage a call center. the banking. your image. Ten years ago most corporations would have scoffed at the idea of entrusting a third party with anything but basic cold-call telemarketing. A call center agent represents your company just as surely as your own field sales rep and can make a powerful impression on your customers. And the workload of those thousands of agents has shifted dramatically over the past five years. outsourcers are increasingly a top choice for inbound customer acquisition. a growing number of companies are placing major components of their direct customer contact in the hands of professional call center providers. "it's more expedient. still. and by extension."By placing your customer contacts. Rather than simply providing a nameless group of voices who read basic scripts to phone-list prospects. to outsource. The trick is to ensure that impression is a positive one. These companies are generally not dismantling their entire in-house call center operations overnight and switching to fee-for-service telephone support. The market for commissioned call center services is transforming. it pays to be wary. less expensive. However. estimates that "barely 20 percent" of all teleservices are currently outsourced. Today. At the same time. making it difficult to draw conclusions. In those cases. Despite promising growth and growing enthusiasm. rather than provide soup-to-nuts. the company employs roughly 18. program manager for CRM and call center services at research firm IDC." Firms from Fortune 500 companies to dot com darlings to budding businesses are relying on vendors to service some or even all of their telephone. According to Director of Investor Relations Jim Jacobsen. general customer service. financial services. Paul Kowal. some 60 percent of their total call volume (both inbound and outbound) consists of customer care contacts. while Menzigian doubts that the number is even that high.000 agents who serve over 400 clients from 75 centers in 18 countries. insurance. a leading provider of call center services to large companies. Outsourcing Surge "Sometimes." says Katrina Menzigian. has seen tremendous growth in the 15 years since they began operations. or a new category of customer such as a rewards or loyalty program. Today.

you need to understand your customer service needs right down to how many rings and how much hold time you want your customers to endure. <="" h3=""> To be truly prepared to negotiate with a call center provider. "Then they do the math and realize it's almost always better to outsource it. protectively. such as call center provider TCIM Services." Part of that preparation includes a fairly clear idea of how you want new technology to work for your customer service. Companies need to be acutely aware of the . not counting toll-free charges." she says. you place the health and well-being of that relationship outside your direct control. outsourcing can allow you to implement technology more quickly than if you were to build the call center up internally. are well motivated to implement technology that works and to train their employees well. with the company webmaster answering three or four customer e-mails a day. the more "dot com" your customers expect the relationship to be. What may have started as a lark four years ago. has for a number of companies turned into a flood of online customer contacts that need professional care. mistakes." WiredEmpire customers. a consultant with Kowal Associates. leading TCIM to launch a division dubbed interactioncenter. are finding a great deal of demand for specialized e-commerce support solutions. your image. The more aggressive your "dot com" strategy. Industry data suggests that a dedicated service rep through a third party can cost from the low $20s to the high $40s per hour. Incoming telecommunications (customer calls) tend to be charged at about 10 cents/minute. because you are no longer in control of your own destiny. "At the beginning. Internet telephony and interactive voice response (IVR) automation available. The consequences of being unprepared could resonate far beyond simply not getting the best deal on call center services. "The long-term costs [customer dissatisfaction] are not going to be attractive. but Menzigian recommends that companies resist the urge to automate huge portions of their customer contact without a deliberate plan. to put your CRM databases online at their site. By entrusting an outside vendor with your customer contacts. and by extension. Whether your outsourced call center will handle telephone or e-mail contacts.h3=""> Often. a developer of online customer service management tools. and they're going to start telling you how to run your marketing programs and your customer service programs. "That's the start of a bad relationship. "The provider has more experience and more education. everyone wants to keep [e-customer contact] in-house. miscommunications and misunderstandings can and likely will happen. You also need a solid understanding of internal call center operations and capital costs in order to make an educated conclusion about the pricing being offered by outsourcers. A potential outsourcer may have the latest in Web chat." says IDC's Menzigian. the pressure to seek help from the private sector is coming from the expansion of e-mail and Web customer service needs. Call center to manage the new business. who compete amongst themselves to offer the best and broadest services. with technical support and quality assurance tasks ranking higher on the scale." says Eyal Rimmon with WiredEmpire." says Chris stanvick. such as monthly account maintenance and the necessary IT integration. Expect additional costs. "In some cases.

But that contentedness is contrasted by the 65 percent of respondents who say they would likely decrease or discontinue their interaction with a company that had outsourced its ." Quality Care May Not Be Enough for Offshore Contact Centers The following is an extract from the article "Quality Care May Not Be Enough for Offshore Contact Centers" by Joshua Weinberger from CRM Magazine: "Despite a long-held belief that the quality of a customer service interaction is what matters most to the consumer. but simply to make sure as many potential pitfalls are covered as possible. but in the quality and satisfaction your customers get from the experience. The teleservices company then has a direct stake not just in answering the call or e-mail in the most expedient fashion. or receive some sort of credit." especially if your call center goes offline the next time a hurricane shuts down the southeastern U. And.risks. recommends that you ensure that your potential partner has a pedigree in your industry and has had success helping other companies achieve the same sort of customer service goals you have. and ensure that their partners are prepared to accept risk and responsibility for the actions of their agents.. which need to be rigorously verified. Your research should include client references. "The American Consumer Reacts to the Call Center Experience and the Offshoring of Service Calls" was conducted by BenchmarkPortal on behalf of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality and staffing firm Kelly Services. According to that study. and there are also a lot of natural disasters. but many because of the location. age may be the single most reliable predictor of who will tolerate overseas assistance and who won't." he explains.S. more than 85 percent of respondents feel their most recent call center experience met or exceeded their expectations. You want a way to either transfer the business. that's going to affect your program. "If a call center loses power. call center service agreements should include a "risk and reward" component.. <="" h3=""> Menzigian recommends that rather than settle for a flat fee-forservice contract. Kowal's stanvick points out that emergency plans are potentially more important for your call center service than you might think.. two new studies reveal that some users are genuinely unhappy with offshore support services--some because of bad service.P. Chris Gongol. senior V. of business development for call center provider Telespectrum. the studies show. "There are a lot of call centers in Florida because of the labor market there. Creating the detailed service level agreements necessary can be an arduous task--not only to identify the right balance between service and price. The results of both surveys suggest that customer satisfaction is generally positive regarding service interactions..

industry solution executive for telecommunications. is due in early October from the SSPA and Tech Strategy Partners. Despite what Wood calls "a lot of progress in the past six to twelve months improving the quality" of support centers overseas it may not be enough.S. "No matter how well vendors do in delivering great service offshore. Increasing customer retention while reducing service costs is a primary goal of most every company using CRM. WNP . which provided CRM magazine an exclusive first look at the survey's results. "There are a number of people out there who feel they've had a negative experience with offshoring. Offshore reps performed only marginally better when it came to technical skills: 13 percent of respondents rated domestic support reps as poor." How Can We Increase Customer Retention While Reducing Service Costs? The Web site is a natural starting point for a customer's support needs.. president and CEO of the SSPA. Forty-five percent said it was unhappy with the same skills in offshore support reps. the worst may be yet to come. the age [bias] still existed. And with new wireless number portability (WNP) legislation in effect. In the SSPA report 63 percent of respondents between the ages 45 and 54 were against the idea of U. the share of respondents voicing disapproval of offshore support centers was 49 percent. reveal a progressive age bias against offshore support centers." he says.. Wood.) Wood says this bias trumps even a high-quality experience. That study also finds that most callers were happy with their support interactions--but that those who were calling overseas were three to four times more likely to be dissatisfied. "As the age went up fewer would accept the idea of offshoring. Only 11 percent of respondents to the SSPA study said that domestic support reps performed poorly in terms of customer-service skills. (Overall.. companies using overseas contact centers." he says. they're only going to win over a section of the population. Telecom companies. face a unique set of challenges and opportunities when trying to achieve these dual goals.. "2005 Support Demand Research Series. Both studies." says J. "Even among the people who felt that the quality was good.. however. only 34 percent of respondents between 18 and 25 shared that sentiment. 38 percent said the same about offshore reps." another report. By comparison.B.customer service call center operation overseas. The wireless industry has a customer churn rate of more than 30 percent per year. in fact. Response by Will Robinson. edocs Inc.

or executing a transaction. these inquires are billing and account related.   . CSS does not limit other service options. Access to billing and account data Interactive access to detailed account data is required to answer the most common questions. For most service providers. WNP further commoditizes carriers' offerings and has the potential to drive mass customer defections by the end of 2004.   To date.removes a big obstacle for subscribers by allowing them to take their cell phone numbers with them when they change carriers.S. These might include finding information. At the same time. 92 percent of all customer interactions still go through a call center. Done right. not merely expose internal systems to customer access. Customer self-service (CSS) is a new approach that empowers subscribers to go to their carriers' Web site to perform most of the functions that normally go through the call center at a fraction of the cost. primary responsibility for customer service has fallen to the call center--home of long hold times and complex IVR menus. and up to $30 for each business call. and establish the self-service site as the first place to go for answers. wireless subscribers (76 million people) call their carrier at least once a month. customers need to have confidence that they will be able to escalate to assisted service if their questions are not answered. Consider these Gartner Research findings:  One of every two U. These interactions cost $6 to $10 for each consumer call. ordering new products and services. Customer-driven functionality and design based on actual top-10 inquiries The most successful customer self-service implementations provide easy-to-understand capabilities to address customers' most common service needs. The requirements for effective customer self-service success can be broken down into four key areas:  1. but many are already struggling to provide the necessary high levels of customer service today. This makes the Web site a natural starting point for a customer's support needs. 3. Managed transition between self-service and assisted-service If the self-service channel is to become the preferred starting point. it simply allows customers to skip the call center or IVR when they decide it's easier to do it on their own at the Web site. viewing a bill. comparing rate plans. 2. Although the initial impact has been minimal. this escalation needs to be managed carefully to avoid unintended support-cost consequences. 24/7. Customer service is one of the few remaining ways for wireless carriers to protect their customer base. analyzing usage. CSS organizes appropriate data and integrates relevant systems so that all the resources and information are available through one easily navigated Web interface.

and IVR. Service providers can address a multitude of issues by enabling online self-service. and Asia-Pacific.. Europe. Integration with key systems and processes As part of an overall service strategy the customer self-service solution should be integrated with related systems for consistent information across channels. It complements existing investments in e-billing. Call center agents and marketers should be trained to reinforce the use of the CSS solution in appropriate customer communications.S. CRM. while cutting down on costly errors and increasing convenience and efficiency. 4. . It is already making a dramatic difference for several carriers in the U.

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