941 — Contact centres eschew single number strategy, latest Merchants report shows

Nov 17, 2003 | Conteúdos Em Ingles

The results of the latest Merchants Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report covering 200 contact centres worldwide show that a clear majority of centres employ a multiple line strategy with only 22 per cent adopting a single number policy. The number of contact centres with a single number strategy has also decreased significantly over the last three years. According to Merchants, this reflects a shift in the commonly held belief that a single number strategy should be the ultimate goal for all contact centres.

“As the scope of business functions performed by contact centres increases, many organisations have revised their opinions on a single number strategy being the optimum route for all situations,” the report states.

“The results also show that organisations understand that there is a fundamental difference between a sales and a service environment. Though both are integrally linked, many contact centres have clearly separated the sales and the service function”.

The tension between improving service levels and cutting costs has never been more illustrated by the interest in migrating contact centres to offshore destinations. Merchants believes this approach may wreck service quality:

“While relocation may bring immediate reduction in operating costs, it can also bring declines in service quality and other performance related issues. Organisations are increasingly developing relocation strategies that seek to balance the tension between cost, risk and performance. This means developing a portfolio approach that may include centres in a few destinations that might include India, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Mexico and the Middle East.”

In pure technological issues, Merchants f ound out that despite the hype about using the web and email for self-service, contact centres are still not tightly integrated into internet applications. E-mail services levels mostly fall short of customer expectations while data integration between the contact centre and the web is still a pipe dream for many organisations. “The truly multi-channel integrated contact centre is the exception rather than the norm”.

One of the standard Key Performance Indicators used by contact centre management is the percentage of time that their agents spend talking with customers. Regionally, North American contact centres spend the most time talking to customers, with 69 per cent of agent time used for this purpose.

According to Merchants , one of the reasons for this is the increasing use of automation or self help technology for the handling and resolution of simple inquiries. Due to this, contact centres have more time to spend on complex and valuable inquiries with their customers.

The face-to-face interview is still the preferred selection method for contact centre staff. “There is an impression that contact centres do not tailor their staff selection methods specifically for a telephone environment. This is evident in the number of contact centres that do not conduct telephone interview or employ telephone screening with candidates. It is concerning that the number of contact centres using the telephone in the selection process is also reducing.”

Filipe Samora

Em Foco – Empresa