White Paper

Contact Centers Lack Focus On Quality

Compass analysis finds that team leaders spend 2 percent of their time on customer complaints; 7 percent on 'break'

Contact center team leaders spend more than three times as many hours on breaks as they do addressing external quality issues, according to a long-term analysis of some 50 contact centers by the global management consulting firm Compass.

This lack of attention to quality underscores a fundamental problem with how contact centers are managed, and helps account for why, according to a recent consumer survey, 97 percent of contact center customers are dissatisfied with some aspect of their experience.

"Simply put, contact centers focus on all the wrong issues,'' said John Sansbury, who headed the analysis and is global director of Compass' service management practice. "They're typically concerned with reducing call length and idle time per shift, or increasing the number of calls fielded. These measures are worse than irrelevant – in many cases, enhanced contact center 'efficiency' can result in a decrease in the quality of customer service."

Other findings from Compass' analysis show that team leaders spend about half their time observing and coaching agents, and 13 percent taking or placing calls. "Other" activities accounted for 28 percent of their time.

Compass has worked with more than 500 contact centers and help desks over the last 25 years. The analysis of team leader activities was conducted over the last three years, and involved repeated, detailed time-accounting surveys.

According to Sansbury, contact centers are too often viewed as cost centers to be streamlined, rather than critical customer-facing operations to be invested in for the benefit of the customer and the relationship.

"Instead of worrying about productivity," he adds, "contact center management should emphasize enhancing the customer experience to retain and grow the relationship and meet overall business goals."

One key to more effective contact center performance is to develop metrics and processes to deal with "Problem" calls – those that add no value to either the customer or the business.

Compass data shows that up to 65 percent of a typical contact center's calls can be categorized as such. Examples include inquiries about product use or availability, about the status of an order, or about a payment. While traditional measures would focus on resolving each problem inquiry as quickly as possible, a more effective approach would define incentives to identify the root cause of the problem and report back to the business, so that the problem could be addressed and prevented from recurring.

"A contact center agent might be fielding 50 calls a day to answer questions about where to find pricing information on the company's website," says Sansbury. "On the face of it, he or she is doing a terrific job, because answer speed and call resolution rate is high. But a better approach – for the customer and for the business – would be to have measures in place that encourage and empower the agent to communicate to the business that there's a problem with finding pricing information on the website, so that action can be taken."

About Compass
Compass is a global management consulting firm specializing in business and IT performance improvement for Fortune 1000 organizations. Since its founding in 1980, Compass has conducted more than 8000 engagements in 32 countries. Annually, Compass delivers over 600 engagements worldwide, typically delivering savings of over 17 percent of analyzed costs.