Performance and control problems in call center outsourcing

Accumulated data in call centers is just like the scattered pieces of a jig-saw puzzle. There has to be a way to align them to provide a meaningful picture regarding the operations of the organization.

This in turn, would enable the organization in taking some decisions to improve the working. KPIs can be one such way. These metrics are used for quantifying the organizational performance. The variations experienced with time in the values assigned to these indicators can be later used for knowing whether the organization is performing favorably or not. Also, these magnitudes can be used as the bases for some thoughtful decisions.

KPIs are for judging financial progress can be percentage increase in revenues, percentage labor costs, % incentives provided. Customer perspective can be obtained from average waiting time, % FCR (First Call Resolution) and Privacy issues. Operations perspective can be had from number of calls answered, handling time per customer and percentage occupancy. Education and Growth performance can be obtained from number of training sessions held and average time of appraisal.

Call centers face several challenges. The most immediate one being the competition the market players face due to increase in the number. Consequently, monitoring their performance has become a subject immense importance. Out of the large number of tools available for tracking performance the most suitable should be applied. Selecting appropriate KPIs should be chosen carefully as these change with the organizational context. Some of them might appear to affect a particular aspect on the superficial level but actually are not that important. For instance, 'average speed of answer' do not affect customer satisfaction, though they are 'wrongly' used by a number of such companies for the mentioned purpose. Besides, the number of metrics should be kept restricted enough to make the organization remain focused on the objectives.

The technologies available to aggregate and retain the bountiful information can be a bane and not boon, if proper arrangements to manage them and assess the timely progress of the organization are not in place. KPIs help in achieving this. For instance, average handling time and average waiting can be two such metrics. The organization should strive to minimize them as this would give opportunity to handle more customers in the same period. Call Centers have themselves realized that framing and implementing effective KPIs is all that is required to make such organizations perform up to the mark. However, it has been discovered that majority of the organizations have not yet realized the full potential of these parameters. These can be utilized not only for measuring performance but also for benchmarking performance vs. industry leaders, identifying strengths and weaknesses, establishing goals at individual and organizational level and spotting the reasons for performance lags.

Performance of call centers is a must and can be achieved by using performance evaluation methods such as KPIs. These help in quantifying the working of the organization to fuel the growth. Hurdles faced in the industry can be overcome by structuring KPIs along four dimensions in the form of a BSC.