In light of the economic climate as well as some of the operational realities in South Africa, Rod Jones points out that contact centres are going to have to do a whole lot more with a whole lot less - all without compromising quality. The secret is getting the right people to do the right stuff! South Africa’s first dedicated contact centre and service industry staffing assessment and screening centre has been launched with exactly this purpose in mind.
Looking forward, it’s not a pretty picture out there in the world of contact centres. For starters, there are strong indicators that the world may well be on the verge of yet another economic fire-storm. Here in South Africa, our operational realities include appalling levels of contact centre staff attrition, low productivity, rapidly increasing labour costs, daunting labour-related legislation and statutory restrictions and a work ethic that leaves much to be desired.
With this as the real background to our contact centre operations, we are fully aware that the boardroom will measure our success (or our failure) in terms of five significant criteria. These five challenges are:
Increase operational efficiency;
Reduce or cap costs;
Reduce or mitigate against business risk;
Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
In other words, contact centre management is going to have to do a whole lot more with a whole lot less - and all this without compromising quality.
Getting the right people to do the right things The starting point to unravel this quandary is to face up to our economic realities. No matter how we might look at our contact centres, between 65% and 70% of our on-going operational costs are directly related to staffing and manpower. Similarly, probably as much as 80% of anything that can be done to improve the overall customer experience is directly attributable to the people making and taking calls or processing customer contacts. Managing business risks and ensuring the quality of service delivery are further people-related challenges that need to be resolved.
Getting contact centre operations right is clearly a matter of getting the right people to do the right things; finding that magical mix of people, processes and technologies to create an operating environment fuelled by “The Right Stuff”.
It’s not easy. We need to staff our operations with the right people with the right aptitude, the right competencies, the right skills and the right knowledge. We also need to make sure that our people have the right attitude, the right work ethic and the right motivation. And we need to make sure that they are at the right place at the right time. And finally, we need a workforce at the right price.
The organisation as a whole also needs to have the right customer-centric business philosophies, strategies, policies and procedures and these need to be enabled and supported by the right technologies. »