How to Evaluate a Call Center: Why Consulting and Data Analytics Are Your Two Most Powerful Weapons

According to one recent study, there are approximately 60,850 call centers with ten seats or more located within North America alone.This represents 3.3 million agent positions in an industry that, according to Gartner, is valued at about $28 billion.

Of that number, BPO Companies – those that operate in both an inbound and an outbound capacity – represent about 5.1% of the industry, or roughly 2,900 centers.

For years, businesses in nearly every industry that you can think of have turned to outsourcing their call center operations for two key purposes. First, it’s long been seen as a viable way to expand an organization’s own ability to service the needs of its customers beyond what they’re naturally capable of. If you outsource your call center operations to a third party, those in-house employees who would normally be filling those roles are then free to focus on bigger, better and more proactive actions.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, call center outsourcing has historically been seen as an efficient way to save money that can be better used elsewhere.

Make absolutely no mistake about it: those days are over.

The relationship that an organization has with its clients is about more than just answering questions and solving problems. Those customer interactions, in many ways, act as the foundation upon which everything else is built. It’s an often missed opportunity to provide value to as many people as possible in the most effective way that you can, all while taking average customers and turning them into loyal advocates along the way.

Outsourcing your call center may be an action that saves money in the short-term, yes. That much is still true. But what is missing in terms of actionable insight and intelligence by sticking to a “one size fits all” approach to customer interaction can cost dearly in the long run.

Far too often, companies still rely on standard reporting to fuel the important decisions they’re making in this regard. That standard reporting relies on the premise that all companies are created equally and all audiences been serviced are the same – something that is woefully inadequate on the best of days, and unacceptable on the worst.

The fact of the matter is that by using the right data and analytics, coupled with a consulting mindset, companies can still position their call center as the significant profit and market leadership opportunity that it has the potential to be. By making a concerted and ongoing effort to dive beneath the standard reports that companies often look at, it’s possible to collect, synthesize and use massive volumes of data to uncover tremendous insights that would otherwise go undiscovered.

Those insights can then create a snowball effect in the best possible way, ushering in a new series of recommendations, driving policy, improving products and services and more. They also bring with them perhaps the most important benefit of all: a real competitive advantage to an organization that looks at their data from a strategic and consultative point of view.

If you have the right partner, that is.

Having the right partner that can think in these terms and offer this level of consulting offers companies of all types the type of strategic advantage that comes along once in a generation, if that. Without this partner, these gains aren’t just difficult to obtain on your own – they’re essentially impossible.

But luckily, all of this is significantly more straightforward than it may appear to be at this point. It is very possible to leverage the full power of consulting and data analytics to better evaluate and position a call center to ready itself for the challenges of the next five years and beyond. All it requires is for you to keep a few key things in mind.

It All Comes Back to the Customer Experience

If you had to make a list of some of the most valuable assets you have as a business, customer experience would be right at the top.

Also commonly referred to as CX for short, customer experience is about more than just whether or not your products and services work. It’s about whether they work well, offering something that users are unlikely to find anywhere else.

But more than that, it’s about the sum total of every experience that a customer has with a business – both before they make a sale and, most importantly, after. Focusing on this is also a decision that brings with it a host of powerful benefits that can’t be ignored, from a new ability to improve customer retention to a way to improve customer satisfaction to a chance to increase cross-selling and up-selling opportunities and more. According to one recent study conducted by Oracle, a full 86% of buyers say that they would be willing to pay more for something if that added cost guaranteed a better experience. Likewise, it should come as a surprise to nobody that businesses that lead in CX tend to outperform those who don’t by nearly 80%.

Your customer experience strategy therefore becomes the set of plans, policies, best practices and procedures that you put in place to guarantee that you’re always delivering a value-filled, meaningful and above all else positive experience across those interactions.

Your call center is right at the heart of all that, and it has been for quite some time.

But in an era where a Forrester study revealed that 46% of global contact centers are expected to grow by between 5 and 10% in the next year – a rate that experts agree is unsustainable – it’s clear that a new approach is needed. The “old school” line of thinking just doesn’t work any longer.

This is once again another major reason why using analytics and a consulting mindset is so critical when it comes to managing an outsourced call center. CX consulting, along with data and analytics, can help usher in not just a new era of customer support but intelligent customer support. Your call centers need to be able to do more than just answer calls. They need to answer them better than ever before, all while feeding insights into customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and the different solutions that a business uses. Your call center needs to support different levels of working with clients in their own lifecycles, giving them answers to questions, solutions to problems and suggestions for how to create the best possible experience along the way.

A New Approach to Call Center Evaluation Requires a New Approach to CRM

One of the major issues that most businesses run into in terms of CRM is that they rely on an off-the-shelf solution that, again, assumes that all businesses are created equally. The problem with this is that it’s a solution literally incapable of providing you the answers to essential questions like:

  • What, specifically, is my customer trying to tell me?
  • What are the issues that are ultimately impacting my revenue?
  • What are we doing that works and, more importantly, what are we don’t that doesn’t?
  • What can we do better? Where are the genuine opportunities for improvement that we should be taking advantage of?

At Goodbay Technologies, we don’t just have the type of tools and methodologies that can help you collect this data. Our people at all levels are empowered to give you feedback and make meaningful suggestions based on it. All off-the-shelf CRM solutions have a fundamental reporting and analytics gap to this extent. You can’t glean valuable information from the thousands of emails that you’re getting, for example. You know how many of your survey responses are positive and negative, but you can’t go deeper than that. You can’t dive beneath the data and uncover the narrative that is really unfolding in front of you.

With the right solution and the right partner by your side, however, you can. Take your Fundamental Ticket Workflow, for example. When you partner with a company like Goodbay Technologies, we set up a workflow that is custom built with your people, their processes and their goals in mind. Together, we go through and create an organic process in total congruence with all of your most important business policies. We then set up programming and custom setups to support those ideas in the long-term.

On a weekly basis, we’ll tell you what people are calling about. We’ll tell you what they like and what they don’t like. You’ll have more detailed feedback than ever before, all so that you can go back and address client problem topics in the most sophisticated way possible.

In other words, you’re taking a much more proactive approach to support than ever before. Instead of reacting to issues as they’re happening, you’re fixing small problems now before they have a chance to become much bigger ones later. You essentially have a productive Q&A approach to get an immediate description of the problem, allowing you to address the cause, not the symptom.

None of this is possible without a consulting and data analytics approach to call center evaluation.

The Power of Customized CRM Reporting

This approach pays dividends in other ways, too – like by way of the customized CRM reporting that your organization will now have access to.

Instead of cookie cutter, overly general “reports” that do little more than provide you with a cursory glance at what is going on, you get insightful information that enables you to make your products and services better. Instead of just tracking productivity, you can make sure all those efforts are actually focused on the things that matter the most.

Oftentimes, this will require the building of tools for data capture OUTSIDE of the CRM in an effort to augment trends analysis and insights. Again – this is about not just creating and capturing data. It’s about making sure that data is available to all of the most important people who are making all of the most important decisions moving forward.

At Goodbay Technologies, for just one example, we have the types of reporting templates and APIs you need to make all of this possible. In addition to basic metrics you get access to weekly productivity reports that you can use to go into the data, extract insight from it and use it to support and empower whatever your own unique goals happen to be.

You can see how your partner is doing versus your own in-house staff – those support tickets can finally be segregated in a valuable way. You can look at CSAT scores for days, months and even years for whatever value of customer you are supporting. Finally, you can have the type of intelligent discussion you need to support your intelligent approach to customer service – and the importance of this cannot be overstated enough.

This approach can even help automate certain elements of your call center in the future by way of macro, template and help center content creation. Now, you don’t have to author every single response that you send out to a customer. You can create a custom macro that supports the customer while you work on fixing the underlying issue. Your agents don’t have to type the same thing 500 times in a given week. A perfect response can go out automatically if they haven’t replied. You write the content, document it and put it on the CRM – the solution takes care of the rest.

SLAs, KPI Benchmarking and More

Another area that this new mindset has a positive effect on in terms of evaluating a call center comes by way of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and KPI (Key Performance Indicator) benchmarking.

Your SLA is more than just a document outlining a commitment between your business and your clients. It’s a promise that you’re making, and one that you cannot afford to break at any cost. Every decision you make should be one ultimately dictated by the answer to the question “are we living up to that important promise?” and KPIs are how you do that. KPIs are what lend themselves to and inform your SLA.

A consulting and data analytics approach to evaluating your call center clues you in on the best SLAs and KPIs to benchmark for improvement. With SLA and KPI reporting, you have access to an essentially real-time stream of data that you can use to see what is working and what isn’t as it happens. Almost immediately, this confirms whether or not you’re headed in the right direction and it again provides you with the type of actionable intelligence you can use to make the right decisions at exactly the right moments.

The “one size fits all” approach to call center evaluation just isn’t going to be able to get you there.

The Advantage of CSAT Surveys

No discussion of KPIs would be complete, however, without diving into the topic of CSAT – or Customer Satisfaction Score – surveys.

Essentially, this is the most important KPI of all – the one that takes everything in context and tells you just how happy your customers really are. In general terms, this is perhaps the best way to measure whether or not the customer experience you’re offering actually meets (or hopefully exceeds) the expectations of the people you’ve dedicated yourself to serving.

Thanks to a consulting and data analytics mindset, you can aggregate and present CSAT data to meaningfully drive decision-making. Again, this is less about the number itself and is more about the story lurking just beneath the surface.

This point of view puts you in an excellent position to leverage techniques like A/B testing to improve CSAT scores across the board. You can now test what your average customers will positively respond to before you roll that decision out to the widest possible audience.

Say you wanted to dive deeper into efficiency and its impact on your Customer Satisfaction Scores. In that case, you would look at the average number of replies it took to adequately resolve a case. If these CSAT surveys revealed that there were too many back and forth conversations going on, you would now know that you need to re-analyze these and other business processes that are ultimately inefficient.

With this mindset, everything that you do is able to be reported on. You can see it all, down to the tonality your customers and agents are using when they respond to one another. There is literally no other single piece of software in the world that has this level of reporting. Many are only concerned about status, calls and ultimately “superficial” qualities of that nature. Not that these aren’t important, but to double down on that superior experience you’re offering to customers – and to cement your own competitive advantage – you truly do need to be able to go deeper than that. Not only does Goodbay Technologies help meet the needs created by these limitations in other solutions, but if something is needed that isn’t present we create our own tools to get the job done. Building tools for better data capture is a large part of why we do what we do in the first place.

In the end, you’re left with more than just a way to use CSAT insights to drive policy making and create a competitive advantage. You’re in a position to make your products and services better than they’ve ever been at any point up until now.

From Theory to Execution: Real World Results

For years, Goodbay Technologies has been practicing all of these ideas and more as we forge valuable relationships with our own clients. Our past work has proven that not only does this consulting and data analytics approach to evaluating a call center matter – it’s every bit as effective as you would hope it to be.

One of the clients we work with is in the entertainment industry, offering a cross-platform game that is played by countless people around the world. Recently, they came to us in an effort to take a more data and analytics-based approach to their customer relationships. They wanted to take advantage of custom reporting to find out which issues mattered most to their players in an effort to improve long-term retention. They needed to find out what wasn’t working, in essence, in an attempt to fix the underlying issues that were ultimately harming that valuable customer experience.

Through custom reporting we were able to begin charting their top ticket inflow in a way that was easy to compare from one week to the next. We were able to break everything down to a granular level – from the total number of bans to reports of cheaters to crashes and launch issues, general errors and more. From one week to the next, for example, we quickly uncovered that there was a 30% increase in tickets for one particular type of error brought on by a recent update. The client was able to quickly address the issue and roll out fixes using the insight we provided them.

None of this would have been possible without custom reporting, and none of that would have been possible without this new data-driven mindset for their help desk.

Goodbay Technologies has also applied all of these principles in terms of work we’ve done with another client in a consulting capacity, too. In the gaming industry, every single game needs to have its own unique “it factor” – that is, that special hook that drives both the highest level of customer satisfaction and that results in players who stay, come back for more and are willing to pay more to add to the experience. In essence, it requires you to identify exactly what players want you to do and, more importantly, how they want you to do it.

For one client in particular, we were able to uniquely identify this “it factor” through rigorous A/B testing over a specific period of time. Once singled out, we were then in a better position to coach and train agents to make sure that these elements were enforced by ALL QA efforts in every response that was being sent. This consultation also allowed for Goodbay to use QA scores and reports to identify agents who required additional training and one-on-one coaching, thus cementing these gains across the board.

If You’re Ready to Get Started, Contact Us Today

By now, it should be clear that a consulting mindset and data analytics are no longer recommendations for properly evaluating a call center – they’re a requirement in every sense of the term. When positioned properly, your call center should be more than just an outward-facing, customer-centric arm of your operations. It should generate value, empower innovation and create loyal advocates out of your users – all at the exact same time.

The only way to get to this point is with the right approach, and the only way to take advantage of the right approach is with the right partner by your side.

So if all of this sounds interesting to you, that’s terrific – you’ve just taken your critical first step into a larger and more fulfilling world for everyone involved.

If you’d like to find out more information about why consulting and data analytics are your two most powerful weapons when it comes to evaluating and empowering your call center, or if you’d just like to sit down and discuss your own situation with someone in a little more detail, please don’t delay – contact us today.