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Article : Increasing Costs in the Contact Center Due to Increased Efficiency

#contactcenterworld, @taylor_reach

A few years back, I meet with a potential client. During these meetings, I routinely asked about the current operation of the Contact Center, what changes they had initiated (along with the results) and what pain points they were currently facing. In this meeting, she walked me through all the recent efforts in installing new technologies (such as CTI) and procedural changes resulting in a "much more efficient call handling". She indicated that in the past two years, they had managed to reduce their average handle time (AHT) from 455 seconds down to about 320 seconds. "So, what is the problem"? I asked. Well, apparently this reduction was not good enough!

The Situation

The business was growing and along with that, the Contact Center had grown in size. However, the center was failing to achieve the target service level, even after lowering the target, and needed even more staff. They were doing a good job forecasting call volumes but did not have enough resources to cover the required schedule. They had increased the staff a few times and as a result, the Contact Center budget had grown much faster than what corporate was providing. They needed more efficiency and she simply did not know other means for gaining efficiency or how much more for that matter.

I asked about call volumes and she was clear that they had a significant increase in their call volume but the increase did not match their sales. Call volume was growing much faster than the sales, hence the pressure on the budget. I asked if I could listen to some calls and also if she could provide a history of their call volume. The calls were rather straight forward and seemed to be complete but rather rushed. I could see the agents paying attention to the reader board, number of callers in the queue and noticed a desire to move to the next call and helping the next customer.

One of the calls, however, brought me closer to what I had expected. The caller had recently ordered a product and simply was looking for basic information regarding usage of the product. The information should have been provided during the first call but obviously, was not. A quick chat with the agent confirmed that they used to provide such info but in order to reduce the AHT, they were told to minimize such conversation especially during the busy hours (which happened to be almost all the time!).

Looking at the call volume tracking for the past 3 years, one could establish changes in the way call volumes were growing. After sharing the graph with the Contact Center manager, she confirmed that those changes matched their efforts in reducing AHT – although negatively! Interestingly enough, they were aware of the volume increase but not the changes in how fast it was growing as they were always looking at a shorter time frame!

What about First Call Resolution (FCR)?

They did measure FCR internally using sample calls, which did not indicate any decline. However, later on, I could see that the quality team was focusing more on compliance and less on the customer experience (CX). In effect, the agents were expected to answer customer questions if and when it was brought up by the customers! An external customer survey, or even crude modeling/disposition codes (how quickly a customer calls back regarding the same purchase) would have provided different results and proven insightful.
So, what was the problem and how did they fix it?

Total Work-Load

The problem, as it turned out, was a simple but common mistake of focusing on AHT instead of the total workload. Any attempt at efficiency must consider the impact on the call handling and call volume. In this case, by pushing for shorter AHT, the center had changed the call handling process and as a result also changed (increased) the ratio between the number of calls and number of sales. Customers were not receiving full information because they did not know what to ask until after they received their product and therefore had to call back. The calls were efficient from a technology and compliance standpoint, but clearly not effective from total customer experience perspective.

Adding to the problem was the false sense of accomplishment coming from their ill designed quality process. It is important to measure quality in form of compliance but that does not provide the full picture. If they had a robust or even a decent customer survey focusing on customer experience and true FCR, the alarm would have sounded much earlier.

The Solution

Working with the client, we calculated a more accurate measurement of FCR and call volume per sales. Indeed, they did not have enough staff under the current situation. Doing reverse analysis, we were able to calculate what they needed in terms of FCR in order to reach their target service level with the existing staff. At the same time, in a parallel work, we analyzed all their processes, established where they had failed in achieving higher FCR and based on what reasoning. The good news was that with a little training and minor changes to the existing processes, the center could reach that desired level of FCR.

And here comes the hard part! In the analysis and recommendations, we allowed for much higher AHT and in practice, we told the agents not to worry about their AHT. In fact, we turned off the reader board! As a result, the AHT ballooned to 420 seconds and the center had a miserable service level.

However, after a few weeks, call volumes started to drop as FCR started to improve and at the same time they started seeing a natural reduction on AHT. Little by little service level started to recover and improve.
After about 6 months, the center AHT became stable at 380 seconds while the FCR (true FCR) almost doubled and continued to improve! It’s really interesting to see how that extra 60 seconds can improve the overall service and budget so much.

Not every Contact Center runs into this type of problem and indeed most efficiency improvements result in better service at reduced costs but then again, there are times when increased efficiency is not a good thing!

#contactcenterworld, @taylor_reach

About Turaj Seyrafiaan:
Turaj began his career with Bell Canada in 1989, progressing through a number of project management, benchmarking and consulting roles. Before joining TRG Turaj operated a sucessfull consulting practice, The Pearl Advisory Group where he provided call center consulting services to organizations across Canada. Examples of his work include benchmarking studies (call centres, sales force, and maintenance), process optimization, developing business models and business analysis. He has also designed and facilitated numerous workshops on customer care related issues. Turaj’s facilitation skills and

About The Taylor Reach Group:
Company LogoThe Taylor Reach Group is a call center and contact center consultants specializing in customer experience consulting and call and contact center consulting, management, performance, technologies, site selection, tools and assessments. All we do is customer experience and contact center consulting: strategic and tactical. Our contact center and customer experience consultants have helped management in hundreds of contact centers and organizations achieve – and exceed – their business goals.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Getting The Ergonomic Programme Right

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Thursday, January 4, 2018

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2024 Buyers Guide Analytics


Noble IQ
Turn business insights into actionable intelligence. Noble’s IQsolutions provide you with rich and robust customer data that can transform your business. Automate decision making and campaign management and refine the quality of interactions with precision and efficiency. We have developed proprietary and patented tools to help you make sense of data on your current operations and then help you make strategic decisions to improve performance and efficiency. Identify who your best customers and prospects are and the ideal methods to reach them. Understand what types of campaigns work best for your business and how to optimize underperforming campaigns. And nake real-time decisions rather than looking back to see what went wrong.

BPA Quality

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Daisee builds technology that empowers people to solve problems by making interactions simple and smart so they can have a more significant impact, be more productive and be better at what they do. We believe incremental improvements carry huge potency and provide exponentially greater change for the better.

Genesys customers can now automate risk and quality management using Daisee’s speech and sentiment analytics and remediation workflow software. Daisee helps improve customer experience, ensure regulatory compliance, identify missed commercial opportunities & training requirements as well as provide valuable insights back to the business directly from the frontline – the true voice-of-...
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Powered by AI, DialogTech’s DialogAnalytics analyzes conversations to provide marketing and sales teams a wealth of insights for smarter optimizations. With the power of conversation intelligence, you can learn which channels, ads, keywords, and webpages drive the best sales calls, if the caller converted, and more.

AI analyzes how calls are handled at locations and call centers to detect issues that negatively impact ROI. See what percentage of calls go unanswered and who is best (and worst) at converting callers to appointments and customers. Get email alerts when phone leads are mishandled at locations so those leads can be called back right away.

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eGain Corporation

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CXi - Customer Experience Insights
Pointel CXi, the IVR analytics platform, maps the entire customer journey and analyzes calls end-to-end to turn data into actionable insights. Centralized reporting is essential for seamless customer journeys, as it is critical to know where calls are transferred or abandoned.

CXi generates multiple reports on IVR performance, the Customer-IVR interactions, and sticking points in the IVR that cause customers to struggle. CXi’s IVR Analytics platform provides a comprehensive understanding of customer engagement.

Pointel Customer Experience Insights (CXi) delivers actionable information that enables businesses to reduce customer effort, operational costs and increase contact center effi...
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Analyzes SIP signalling and RTP audio stream of every call passing through the network demarcation point. Provide a real time 24/7/365 network baseline database that contains the IP bandwidth, call traffic of up to 128 voice groups, Call Detail Record (CDR), call blockage and MOS voice quality. All information are displayed in SIP-Trunk dashboards and are used in many applications, such as Telco collaboration, UC/CC analytics, Work Force Optimization (WFO) and caller identification.


Social Media Analytics
Social media analytics is the practice of gathering data from blogs and social media websites and analyzing that data to make business decisions.

Typical objectives of Social Media include increasing revenues, reducing customer service costs, getting feedback on products and services and improving public opinion of a particular product or business division.

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Analyzing net sentiment score
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Customized positive and negative keywords
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Imagine for a moment that you are a call center manager responsible for generating revenue through signing new customers or up-selling to existing ones. Imagine that your KPI is telling you you have an abandonment rate of 5% and someone comes along and says "No, your abandonment rate or dropped call rate is 13%." .." How do I know? AcutuCall VoIP software application can show you the dropped call data including, originating number and whether it was a network or equipment failure." Now imagine you can see your calls in progress on a mobile app, take your dashboard where ever you go! "What is a lost call worth to you?"


Voipfuture Qrystal
Qrystal provides communication service providers, wholesalers, enterprises, call centers and cloud-based voice providers with unique, dual visibility monitoring capabilities for analysing both SIP and RTP packets.

Unlike other solutions, Qrystal provides visibility into both control and media plane. This way, you get the full picture of in-call user experience, all in one place.

Voipfuture’s patented technology automatically identifies typical impairment patterns, allowing you to reduce the time it takes to fix problems.


Xdroid is an independent, privately-owned software development company. This enables us to respond to changes quickly.

Our Artificial Intelligence solution, based on deep expertise, reveals the truth about your customer interactions and will help you to communicate better.

Analytics knowledge is the backbone of our development team. Years of experience in developing high-tech software for contact centers of financial institutions, utility companies, telecom operators, etc., give us an incredible edge.

We help you to predict and anticipate in an uncertain and turbulent environment. Communicate better.




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