Contact Center Fundamentals (for the newbie WFM) (and a refresher as well for the “older” ones) 😇
If this is your first time to join a contact center, or are in it for a long time but want to get clarification on certain call center metrics, this is a recommended post for you!
In olden times (oh yeah), this introduction to Call Center and Workforce Management metrics was called “Call Center Fundamentals or CCF”. This then became “Contact Center Fundamentals” when more types of transactions other than calls came to the picture (such as chats, email, back office and social media comments and content moderation). Some now call this “Customer Care Center Fundamentals or CCCF” considering the main goal of a contact center is to take care of the needs of its customers.
For our purpose, let us call this “Contact Center Fundamentals”.
“Fundamental” in the sense that these are the first things that one coming in to WFM would first need to know to get an understanding of what are the a.) important things to know about a contact center (such as the importance of accurate agent intraday staffing, that calls arrive in random order, and that there is the “power of one!”) and b.) what metrics are important for its success (such as service level, schedule adherence and occupancy).
The image below shows the image of a big contact center. This is from a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company. A BPO company would have a lot of contact center agents compared to a standard company because it serves more than just one client or company. Huge companies can “outsource” some of its business processes – such as after sales customer support and technical support – so it can focus on its core products (such as manufacturing their product or building their technical infrastructure). This allows Business Process Outsourcing companies to consolidate all these customer care requirements from multiple clients in one huge contact center.
A BPO company can put in just one big office space all of these customer care requirements of small, medium and big enterprises (called clients).
- 310 agents handling the after sales call support for a big Telecommunication company
- 120 agents handling outbound sales for a telemarketing firm
- 210 agents handling the billing and invoicing concerns of a cable company
- 100 agents handling the technical support concerns of a mobile phone company
- 50 agents handling the back-office work of a health maintenance organization
- 330 agents handling content moderation (such as checking the posts of social media content providers and removing any that does not adhere to their community guidelines)
- 90 agents handling the concerns of the customers of a life insurance company
- 140 agents handling the customer collections function of a credit card company
- 3 agents handling the new customer inquiries of a small start-up company
- 2 agents handling the picture checking of a car automation technology company
In just one office alone per above, you can see that there are 1,355 agents that provide various customer care and ancillary services of said client companies. Some BPO companies can have as high as 5,000 agents in just one building. Though there are some who have just 50 or less contact center agents focused on one or two clients only.
Some companies have chosen not to outsource but have their own “in-house” contact centers which can be from 2 to 2,000 agents.
And these are just customer care agents. It does not count the number of Operations supervisors (or Team Leaders) that assist and coach the agents, Operations managers, HR personnel, IT folks, Finance and of course the Workforce Management team members that all help to ensure the smooth functioning of the contact center.
What does “smooth functioning” mean?
At a fundamental level, how would one know that a contact center is managed very well? First thing is to define contact center management as art of having the right number of skilled people and supporting resources in place at the right times to handle an accurately forecasted workload, at service level and with quality. (International Customer Management Institute, ICMI).
There are 11 things to look for to check if a contact center is managed well:
- Everyone understands what the “Service Level” goal is
Service level is the company’s goal on how fast a customer’s call (or email or chat) would be answered. How is service level computed?
There are various methods in the calculation.
The most common:
Service level = Number of calls answered within x target seconds
__________________________________________ x 100%
Total numbers of calls that came in
There is no standard on service level. Some companies would target 90% of calls are handled within 30 seconds. Some would target only 80%. Some would even target 90% but within a high 120 seconds wait time.
If you had an issue with your phone service or your video streaming service, you probably tried to call a telecommunication company or a video streaming company for help and if it took a while for them to answer, you may have been frustrated at the company. Workforce management does a lot of things from real time analysis to long-term planning to ensure your call is answered on the expected time!
- Everyone understands the “Power of One”
In a contact center, calls arrive in random fashion.
The Power Of One means that even just one missing agent can miss the mark.