CHAPTER 1: SUMMARY
Virtually all businesses have an interest in providing information and assistance to prospective and existing customers. In recent times, the rapid developments in technology have made it more economical to consolidate these information delivery functions thus leading to groups that specialize in handling customers phone calls. Call centers, and their successors, contact centers, have become a preferred means by which a company can communicate with its customers. Many organizations have engineered their infrastructure to include one or more call centers which are either managed internally or outsourced. These call centers offer personalized remote services by the call center agents in terms of information, queries, and business. Due to the nature of their operations, one of the key success factors is the provision of personalized services (Aksin, Armony, & Mehrotra, 2007, p.665). Since the employees in the call center are the link between the consumers and the entire organization, they are in a position to influence the consumers service perception. Therefore, the ability of an organization to recognize and adopt the right measures to ensure the provision of quality services by call center agents is essential since customers identify the service of the call center agents as the service provided by the organization in general.
As competition increases in virtually every industry, companies can no longer afford to be unresponsive to consumer requests. If one company fails to meet consumer expectations, then another company is more than willing to meet the same expectations. The resulting demand is for increased customization in business service. To gain a competitive edge, companies often use their call centers to continually develop new services, products, packaging, and delivery, based on changing consumer needs. New technologies accelerate both the capabilities and the demands for change including faster communication channels and timely information about customers. Additionally, technology updates enable more precise measurements of quality and cost.
1.2 System Refresh
A system refresh refers to the periodic replacement of IT assets and products with newer ones. This term is widely used to refer to situations where enterprises replace more than a third of their existing technological assets. There are several reasons that can drive an organizations system refresh including aging and out of support technology, cost reduction, standardization, and innovation (Iqbal & Wand, 2007). Organizations with aging technology often find themselves in difficult situations as they usually face capacity issues with their systems. Over time, as the organization attempts to customize the legacy technology to meet user demands, it becomes increasingly sophisticated and expensive to make changes in future migration to a newer technology.
Another reason for regular technology refreshes is due to regulatory compliance where organizations have to take steps to secure their customers transactional data. With technology improvement making access to information easier, legacy technology makes it easier for the occurrence of security breaches (Iqbal & Wand, 2007). The compliance regulations force organizations to develop procedures and controls that prevent security leaks. The security risk increases as the product reaches its end of support as the manufacturer upgrades to newer technology components and not supporting the older versions as they attempt to migrate their existing customers to the new technological stack. Finally, organizations may also decide to conduct a systems refresh to improve their competitive positions in the market.
In the implementation of a technology refresh, there are several steps that an organization must go through. The first is to determine the transformation purpose where they build intelligence, create technology awareness, understand the current situation, and develop the overall refresh strategy. The second step is creating an objective for the technology refresh program and the key deliverables expected. The third step is developing a roadmap to the solutions for the companys problems. Depending on the maturity of technology components and risk appetite of the organization, most usually implement a pilot exercise to a specified section of the refresh candidates. The next step is deployment where the solutions are deployed organization wide with different rollout options depending on the organizations needs. After deployment, the organization is expected to realize the proposed benefits after replacing the old technologies. Overall benefits gained from a technology refresh include supported technology components, improved scalability, no risk to compliance, and improves overall IT efficiency and capability.
This project focuses on a mid-size company that has 250 business users and 500 users in their call center division. Currently, they are utilizing Windows 7 for the call center and windows 2008R2 for the IT administrative tasks. However, while Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008R2 may offer ease of use and familiarity, they have decreased efficiency and lack features that are inbuilt in later versions of the software. In the last few years, as the proliferation of technology has improved significantly, the number or customers for Technology Inc. has increased dramatically which has resulted in straining the current system resources including the processing and network routing operations. Since competition is common in the industry, the CEO has determined that the whole system needs an overhaul. This would free the company from the limitations propagated by a dated computer system while increasing capacity, and providing opportunities for scaling operations as demand increases or wanes.
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Call Center Performance Metrics
Quality assurance in a call center is important as it helps to enhance the quality of service provided, increase efficiency, and reduce operational expenses. If utilized effectively, quality assurance measures can lead to a business gaining a competitive edge over their competition. Some of the metrics utilized by quality assurance teams in call centers include:
First Call Resolution
Research suggests that the biggest determinant of customer satisfaction is the first call resolution time. FCR is where a customers issue is resolved on the first call without the need for follow-up calls. Customer contact research firm Service Quality Measurement concluded that a 1% increase in FCR, there is a direct and proportionate increase in consumer satisfaction. The study found that centers with world class customer satisfaction had average FCR rates of above 86% while lower ranked contact centers had FCRs of only 67%. FCR also leads to reduced revenue at risk since the customers issue is resolved on the first call making only 3% of customers likely to defect to competitors (Feinberg et al., 2000). Additionally, there is also higher employee satisfaction since call-backs from frustrated customers lead to lower employee morale.
Service Response Time
Service response times are fundamental metrics in the effective management of call centers and customer experience as they indicate the accessibility of the center to their clients, and the resource requirements for the work load. When establishing and assessing response time objectives, it is important to also evaluate how consistently the center attains those objectives throughout the day.
In general, the service levels and response times tie the response time objectives with the required resources needed. These metrics show how often the contact center is receiving inbound calls and connecting them with agents thus allowing the management to plan and budget for future expenses. Service quality and response time is especially sensitive to technological resources of the organization as outdate technologies tend to have lags and inefficiencies resulting in lower customer satisfaction rates. Legacy hardware or software may increase the amount of time a client spends in the queue and the amount of time that an agent spends accessing information related to a clients request
This is usually evaluated though the monitoring and recording of the agent interactions with clients. Quality assurance specialist or department supervisors then evaluate the contact using comprehensive evaluation metrics comprised of the key criteria that the customer center prefers (Feinberg et al., 2000). Criteria are usually given a numeric value and weighed based on its impact on consumer satisfaction. Some of the common criteria include use of appropriate greetings, first call resolution, capturing key customer data, and accuracy in data entry.
Is considered one of the most useful performance metric for call centers. Studies have shown a clear and direct correlation between customer satisfaction, corporate revenues, customer loyalty, employee performance, and
morale. While all companies claim to have strong consumer-focused metrics, not all of them conduct consumer satisfaction analyses in precise and consistent procedures.
2.2 Technological Impact on Call Centers
Past studies on technological impact on call center performance show that first call resolution improves as the technology becomes more sophisticated. While this finding may be predictable, it is important since FCR indicates that calls have been received and routed to the right agents who can satisfy the information needs of the clients with the information without having to research it or refer out the customer (Kim et al., 2007, p.824). Additionally, the data on call center performance shows that advanced levels of technology enable agents to handle a higher number of average calls per hour. From a statistical perspective, more advanced technologies, both in terms of hardware and software enable agents to become more effective and efficient service professionals. They make sure that the incoming calls from customers are directly connected to the agent with the skill set best suited to the clients needs (Ray & Barney, 2005). Faster technologies enable agents to quickly access information about the services and products that are the subject of calls.
Studies have also shown that agent satisfaction is higher in call centers utilizing more sophisticated technology. While the agents may aim to help customers, frustration and stress results when the existing systems are inadequate to handle the inbound call traffic. Slow technologies result in frozen screens since the agents have to have many applications open at once. The resulting frustration is from a lack or slowed access to vital information that the client needs. This stress is then associated with employee sickness, absenteeism, low morale, under-performance, and high attrition levels. Therefore, technologies that foster positive work experiences and enable agents to achieve resolutions with the clients provide better customer and employee experiences. This is beneficial on multiple fro...
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