The best ways to measure and improve call-center performance
Description: This case study looks at ways and means through which performance can improved in a call center and tries to explain a balanced score card software helps in the context of continuous improvement.
Unified CallSoft – Optimizing call center operations with the balanced scorecard approach.
Unified CallSoft, based in Toronto Canada, has been into providing Call center and related BPO services since the past one and a half decade. In recent years it has experienced both growth and myriad challenges as its operations have spread across geographies. Today it has operations in over seventeen countries includes United States, Eastern Europe, India and Japan. Lately it has been confronting difficulties that were related to ‘performance tracking and monitoring’ issues. Stating it in other words, the managers were unable to decide the reason for significant dips in progress of employees and therefore in revenues volume. Amongst the several options that were suggested to the top management for resolving the issue, the use of a Balanced Scorecard approach seemed the most feasible.
Essentially this case study on Unified CallSoft can broadly be divided into following sections::
The Client Need
The key issues that the management of the Unified CallSoft was confronting included :
- The Client need
- Processes and Best Practices followed
- Challenges surfaced
- Need to optimize the service delivery processes
- Implement a rigorous mechanism of checks across several delivery centers
- Improving the overall productivity and employee performance
Processes and Best Practices followed
When it was realized that matters could not be left on their own to get corrected, a study to move deeper into the subject and understand the dynamics that operate behind-the-scene was decided to be conducted. A team was created that had members from all the major divisions to pool in their ‘plausible’ causes for the decline being experienced. After some cross-divisional examination, consensus was reached for the likely reasons. However, during the final analytical stage, a peculiar observation made was the ‘qualitative nature’ and ‘subjectivity’ in the content that was collected. Consequently, the situation was pretty much the same even after taking all the pain of jumping into the area and gathering flaws.
Key challenges that the management experienced included:
- A large degree of subjectivity which was involved in the process was causing issues in structuring a transparent tracking and reward system.
- Delivery centers often varied in both kinds of processes they tackled and also skill and aptitude of the employees they had in their teams.
This led to initiation of yet another research act that culminated as an ‘immense need to implement a quantitative performance management device like the Balanced Scorecard Designer software. It was found to be competent enough to convert qualitative aspects into measurable phrases thereby eventually giving way to an ‘indicator look-out spree’ at United CallSoft. The initial and basic instruction included to accumulate ‘anything that was countable’. This act aimed at creating a reservoir of parameters to be sorted out later on the basis of some pre-set criteria.
Moving on the same lines, a sieve of criteria was developed for filtering the collected measures and used to arrive at the ‘most relevant group’ of KPIs (Key performance
Indicators). Further, these were fixed to be followed in later stages. The software chosen was such that it permitted arranging the scorecards in the form of ‘cascade’ thereby allowing the users to step into more detailed scenarios from the larger and ‘hazy’ one.The managers could track down the ‘ultimate cause’ of poor performance very fast, even on real time basis. Such empowering of users gave the transparency of the system a ‘sudden push’, thus easing the job of users in spotting the ‘weakest link’.
The introduction of the Balanced Scorecard approach helped tremendously in managing the varied operations being taken care of by the call center. Though the business lines to which help desk services were provided happened to be significantly different from each other, BSC made a major contribution in seamlessly connecting all the strings together. Thus, the managers were no longer required to fight with numbers and values; immerse themselves in the sea of reports and still be lacking information.
By using the values presented on scorecards, quick decision resulted together with an increase in the potency of statements made. One could concentrate on more important aspects rather than focus just on the accumulation of statistics and data. On the whole, BSC smoothened the job of people who were to monitor the performance of call-center by imparting them a way to gauge the movements and progress.
The indicators were however gathered after knowing pretty much about the operations going on at the call center. The best practices were dug and framed in the form of ‘metrics’. These were attached with realistic values to escape the ‘overestimation’ and ‘underestimation’ situations and enjoy a smooth ride. Some of the parameters that were gathered had ‘number of first-call resolution’ etc as the component. This was to gauge the efficiency of those who were receiving the calls so as to know the potency in handling queries.
On the whole, the operations at United CallSoft were optimized with the help of BSC that made it possible to collect metrics and make sure that values and numbers were within the desired range. Another beneficial act that was opted for was that of arranging the scorecards in ‘cascading’ fashion. This in turn enabled the user in getting into more detailed area after starting from the comparatively unclear and hazy one.
The company experienced huge cost savings as the total amount came down by 10%, employee contribution rose by a whopping 40% and motivation levels too increased by a significant value of 60%. On the whole, one can carry out the task of job of bringing a ‘monitoring tool’ for perfect tracking act and utilize it to make sure that things are always in place. The employees also participated with increased interest and will to take the organization ahead and do their best in enhancing the ‘customization’ content of the services being provided.
This case study on Unified Callsoft clearly demonstrated what a Balanced scorecard approach can achieve if it is suitably implemented. Some of the key insights that we can draw from the case are:
- Cleary defined performance metrics supported by an reward system can go a long way in motivating the work force in a call center
- Coordination between different delivery centers can be achieved with the help of a Balanced score card approach.
- Unified Callsoft was clearly able to improve achieve cost savings through the BSC approach.