Many organizations have started appreciating benchmarking as an all important function for a well managed call center. It can be defined as the measurement and comparison of standards and practices, within an organization and/or with other operations externally.
Call center benchmarking gives you access to new tools for decision-making, improving efficiencies, and gaining insights. These are so valuable that call center managers eventually come round to adopting benchmarking and making it an intrinsic part of their work.
Why Call Center Benchmarking is Necessary?
Call center benchmarking offers tremendous benefits to a call center. It enables to compare its business processes, as well as their performance vis-à-vis that of the leaders in the industry. Moreover, it enables call center operators to detect their strength and weaknesses so that the information can be used to make significant improvements in business processes.
If call centers compare themselves against industry’s finest more frequently, they will get more clarity into specific issues faced by them. A good example of this can be high absenteeism among agents and how other call centers are handling such issues.
Benchmarking can remove the element of guesswork from call center management. Thereby, executives no longer have to resort to their ‘gut feelings’ and can rely on factual data instead. It is also useful in establishing a healthy competition among the rivals and a strong urge to be as good as the best call center in the industry, if not better.
Categories of Benchmarking
Paul Gardner, who is an associate director at Xantus Consulting, said that when a call center wants to deploy the process of benchmarking for the first time, it has to note down the areas where it should mainly focus on.
The key to the success is not to benchmark each and every performance criteria at a single go, but necessarily to focus more on some of the categories that are higher on the priority list. Thus, it is vital to ask the following questions.
- Processes- Are the processes of other call centers in the industry more efficient? If yes, how?
- People- What is the performance of your call center with respect to others, as far as agent satisfaction, and attrition are concerned?
- Management of the organization– Does your call center have the same mix of roles for both management and agents, as is practiced by business rivals?
- KPIs or key performance indicators– Has your call center defined the same KPIs as has been defined by rival call centers? Are right things being measured in a right manner?
- Facilities and location– What are the major differences?
- Customer experience– What kind of experience do customers go through while interacting with this call center? Is the experience better or worse compared to interactions with the other call centers?
- Technology- Is the technology used by the contact center at par with its rival call centers or is it worse?
Approaches to Call Center Benchmarking
After making a decision on which elements should be focused for benchmarking, the next step for a call center manager is to ascertain which technique of benchmarking is most appropriate for them.
There are some benchmarking methods that are costlier than others. If a call center managementwants to employ a consultant to conduct a detailed quantitative benchmarking exercise, it can be pretty expensive.
However, there are some qualitative approaches that can be undertaken through discussions with other call center managers. They can be quite cheap, but can only focus on limited amount of data.
Types of Call Center Benchmarking techniques
- Purchasing reports on industry data
- Going for site visits
- Active participation in various industry visits such as online webinars on best practices and forums
- Going for mystery shopping visits
- Commissioning an expert for research
- Introducing award programs
- Conducting customer surveys
Advantages of Benchmarking in a Call Center
- Managers enjoy in-depth visibility into the operations through quantitative figures.
- Performance can be compared with the call center’s major competitors to know where it stands.
- Pointing at the gaps in performance with a great deal of accuracy and precision.
- The performances gaps can be used to fix or improve business processes of the call center.
- Improvement in shareholder value through earning-per share investments that are fully measurable.
- Enhancement in career paradigm through call center certified programs.
- Work life in the call center can be improved through focused initiatives by Human Resources.
- Identification and quantification of improvement initiatives.
- Identifying and focusing on customer satisfaction that is a key to the growth of your call center.
There are several ways of benchmarking at a call center and not all of them are expensive. For instance an easy way to assess the performance of the rival call centers can be done when a manager chats with a peer. This technique may not deliver quantitative data every time, but it can be used as a starting point for the benchmarking exercise.
Irrespective of what technique a call center manager chooses to use for the benchmarking exercise, it is important to note is that actions should be taken on the findings, to achieve success through the entire exercise.