Making Customer Call Centers Productive and Painless

customer call center productivity

How do you decrease customer wait times at call centers?

Name of Organization: Firstsource Solutions

Industry: Financial services

Use cases: Workforce management, customer-experience management, business process management

Location: Mumbai, India

Business Opportunity or Challenge Encountered:

Running a customer care center for the banking industry is a fast-paced business that requires real-time responsiveness. Firstsource Solutions, a global business process management service provider, was challenged to increase the productivity of its agents. The company, which has more than 100 clients worldwide and a workforce of more than 23,000 employees, found that agent workforce performance statistics were falling short of expectations.

In its credit card and retail banking customer service programs, agents were often spending too much time handling calls, pushing up the average handle time. Cautionary emails or instant messages were not getting through, because these manually-written alerts were inconsistent. Workforce administrators had to monitor a screen listing agents, their activities and the time they were spending on each of them. With many agents to observe, it was difficult to detect and respond to every deviation.

In addition, Firstsource faced inconsistencies in the lengths of breaks agents were taking. If an agent took an extra 15 minutes, customers were left sitting in queue, impacting their customer experience and customer satisfaction. Firstsource needed a more precise means of monitoring agent behavior and an efficient way to alert agents immediately if problems were emerging.

How This Business Opportunity or Challenge Was Met:

The company partnered with WorkFlex Solutions to help devise a means for improving performance results. The solution, an Automated Call Distribution (ACD) system, enables real-time alerting that notifies agents of prolonged average handle times and agent productivity issues.

WorkFlex was configured to send an alert to any agent taking more than a specified amount of time to complete a customer service call. Firstsource provided WorkFlex with the thresholds for triggering an alert. An agent in the retail banking division spending more than 290 seconds on a phone call, for example, would receive an alert stating “average handle time trend is above the goal.” (In the credit card division, the threshold was 325 seconds.)

“The ACD system records the length of each phone call, so we configured WorkFlex to send a message to agents when they were taking longer on a call than expected,” says Shalabh Jain, president and CEO of customer management at Firstsource. “And if they use an Aux code to indicate they’re doing after-call work, so that no calls are routed to them, WorkFlex automatically lets them know when they’ve exceeded the average time allotted for a call.”

Measurable/Quantifiable and “Soft” Benefits from This Initiative:

There was a 17 percent improvement in average call handling time in the retail banking and credit card divisions after implementation of the real-time alerting system. There was also a six-percent increase in login hours, the result of agents logging in to the system and adhering to their schedules as required. With more agents at their stations and available to take calls, and improved call handling times, Firstsource can achieve the same service levels as before with fewer agents in the contact center.

The real-time alerts are also impacting agent behavior. For agents, “knowing they’re being held accountable for their use of time helps them adhere to their schedule and gives them an incentive to engage with customers in a focused manner that results in rapid problem resolution,” says Jain.

Higher average handle time and increased billable hours have also led to considerable cost-savings for the company – an average savings of $59 per agent per month.

(Source: WorkFlex Solutions)

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