Not too many years ago, the call center business was perceived as a master-slave relationship. The client told the call center what to do and it was done. The call center was viewed as a necessary evil rather than a key contributor.  Thankfully, the relationship has shifted to a mutually beneficial partnership.

The call center business has become complex. Clients, internal and external, need to rely on call center experts to manage the day to day operations and get the work done right…the first time. The client is an expert on their product, the call center is an expert on how to effectively manage the call center from a staffing, technology and compliance standpoint.  To ensure this interdependent relationship is structured in a way that allows each to focus on their respective strengths, Service Level Agreements hold each accountable for specific outcomes.

Call center leaders are experienced and highly qualified to determine:

Who to hire.  Call center leaders know what skill set and personality types make good call center representatives for different types of encounters.  Sometimes the people that sound the best on the phone when you listen to calls are not the best employees.  They may not be computer literate or able to document their conversation accurately. Their creativity may show up in excuses for being tardy or absent from work. They may not have the aptitude to learn certain aspects of the job.  Being a successful call center agent is made up of multiple components. The call center has insight into what needs to be done and characteristics that have proven to be successful in a call center environment.

Staffing levels.  While you may determine the forecast of calls, the call center is adept at allocating resources to ensure calls are answered and agents are productive.  Overstaffing or understaffing are costly mistakes for both the client and the call center.  There is a delicate balance between efficiency and effectiveness.  Overzealous expectations can lead to burnout and an increase in the churn rate which has a direct effect on morale.

Quality issues.  Mistakes are a learning opportunity and are often the result of lack of information or training issues.  When an agent makes a mistake on the phone with a customer, the encounter can be redirected in real time by attentive supervisors who have the ability to join calls. If discovered during quality reviews, the deficiency is identified and addressed.  The quality team works closely with leadership and the training team to communicate opportunities for continuing education and develop quality assurance safeguards to decrease risk.

Scripting.  What you say IS your script. Campaign scripting does not have to be rigid but is necessary to provide a framework for agents to follow.  The call center works collaboratively with the client so that every call is a reflection of the client’s brand.  Scripting is a client specific tool. It reflects the client’s language preferences and becomes part of the quality assessment for agents representing those clients.

Reporting.  Real-time reporting is data driven using metrics that align with the client’s strategic goals. The call center is fluent in the myriad of outbound call center metrics available from their systems and can advise the client in KPI selection. The data available can be delivered in detail or in a dashboard format as the client requests. Valid data provides a solid foundation for data driven decisions to move the client’s business forward.   Your call center partner can tell you what the industry metrics are, help you make sure you are measuring all of the key indicators including sales, efficiencies and customer service, and they can help align reports with set goals.

Media Sources.  Clients who look at overall spend and overall sales results without drilling down to the specific cost per sale metrics for each media source are missing an opportunity to optimize their spend.  By tracking each media source through dedicated phone numbers or source IDs, the call center can help track cost per sale, both the media and the agent costs, allowing you to focus your spend on the sources that result in the lowest CPA.

Those who leverage their call center as a collaborative partner realize the advantage of exceptional leaders working on their behalf. Empowering the call center to do good work on your behalf frees human resources to focus on their areas of expertise. Working in tandem, the client and the call center can achieve more with greater value and less cost. The call center utilizes experts whose talents work for you!

To stay ahead of the curve this year, check out Five Issues Facing Call Centers in 2018 to learn how you can best apply the metrics above for a smooth, successful call center relationship.