Five reasons for common failures of new call centers or Contact Centers: lack of vision, planning, labor & failure to hire experts and to plan.

By: Colin Taylor

There can be many reasons for an organization to decide it is time to create a Call Center or Contact Center. Perhaps organic growth, a new product, service or acquisition is resulting in calls swamping the switchboard, or customers are tracking down the administrative offices to trace an order, or email volumes are surging and going unanswered.

By creating a Call or Contact Center and being able to direct and centrally manage all calls, emails, chats and other channels of communications organizations can realize both financial savings, but also improvements in service quality and customer satisfaction. Regardless the cause once an organization has determined it is time to create a call center the next steps can be both daunting and critical.

Common Issues/ Challenges
There are more than 800 discrete tasks associated with building a Call or Contact Center. Common Challenges include;

⦁ Accurately sizing your call center requirements
⦁ Determining which channels to support
⦁ Identifying the telephony and technologies required to support your business activities
⦁ Mapping your business processes impacted by the Call or Contact Center
⦁ Identification of the integration points and links required to CRM or back office systems
⦁ The design of the call and workflows,
⦁ Design of the physical call/contact center space
⦁ Creation of an organizational design and the determining people requirements

People are the largest cost in any call or contact center. People requirements include;

⦁ Job descriptions,
⦁ Identification of skills required for each role
⦁ Compensation Modeling
⦁ Quality Management
⦁ Workforce management (forecasting and scheduling)
⦁ The reporting required to provide the business with the knowledge to make data-driven business decisions related to the Call Center / Contact Center and the customers they support.

ApexCX has assisted thousands of organizations to design, develop, implement and improve their Call and Contact Centers. We have developed a proprietary approach to simplify and streamline modeling and decision making around what can be a very arduous 6 to 12-month process, resulting in lower cost to implement and higher effectiveness and efficiency from day 1.

Common Failures
In supporting our clients in the development and implementation of new Call Centers and Contact Centers we have seen a number of challenges and decisions that can adversely impact the development process. These challenges include;

1. Lack of a cohesive vision of the role of the center. Is the center designed to be a profit center or a cost center? Is the purpose to deliver service that exceeds customer expectations or to be delivered a cost effectively as possible? Has the organization defined the desired customer experience (CX) when interacting with the center? Has the organization identified the reporting and metrics that will measure success and inform future business decisions? Without a clear vision, it is impossible to develop a center successfully. Fuzzy goals will produce fuzzy results.

2. Failure to realize that a Contact Center is a unique and independent business service and must be properly researched and resourced in terms of both people and technologies.

a. The failure to complete proper research has led many organizations to select technologies that don’t meet the needs of the organization. Many solutions can appear on the surface to do what we want them to do, it is only when ‘drilling down’ to the details of ‘how’ that we can often surface inadequacies. Research takes time, but it is time well invested versus selecting and installing a telephony or technology solution that doesn’t work or handicaps the organization going forward.

b. Failure to realize that a Call Center requires staff with unique skills and competencies which can result in the wrong people being on your Contact Center ‘bus’. Just because someone likes to talk, doesn’t make them qualified to be an agent and a good salesperson isn’t always the best solution to lead a Call Center or inside sales team. Putting the wrong people in the wrong roles can handicap your center for months or years to come.

3. Failure to plan for growth or seasonality. Nothing is static, companies evolve over time and the reasons our customers contact us is also every evolving. Organic growth in contact volume may be linked to organizational growth, new markets, products or services. Increased focus on e-commerce can increase seasonal spikes and volumes. If the center planning has not taken these factors into consideration, you can find yourself without the ability to scale the center to support the customer needs. The solution to this can include center expansion and/or outsourcing. Both of these scenarios are disruptive and will reduce service quality while often increasing costs.

4. Failure to understand the labor market. In a Contact Center labor is the number one expense. Centers also often have high staff turnover, both externally and internally. The location selected for the center must be sustainable and the labor costs and budgets need to be realistic. Failure to properly plan can lead to a center unable to secure the desired staff with the desired skills and/or force it to pay more than was budgeted for these roles.

5. Failure to seek guidance and expert advice. There is certainly a cost associated with retaining an expert to guide you through the process of designing and implementing a new call or contact center, but there is also a cost for not doing so. We have seen organizations select technologies only to have to remove and replace them within months, build and then shutter center locations due to staffing issues, deliver degraded services because their budget was incorrectly set in the first place and be hampered by center staff and leadership without the skills, competencies or training to excel in the role.

The preceding is by no means an exhaustive list of challenges associated with creating a new Call Center or Contact Center, but the examples cited above are some of the most common failures, that can spell disaster for a new center initiative. (Here is another list.)

Please Contact ApexCX for all your customer experience needs.

His editorial was originally published on July 9th, 2016 and was revised/updated July 13th,2017