April 16, 2012

BenchmarkPortal Announces a New Show on CallTalk Discussing The Positive Financial Effects of Contact Center Technology on a Company’s Financial Performance

BenchmarkPortal Announces a New Show on CallTalk Discussing The Positive Financial Effects of Contact Center Technology on a Company’s Financial Performance

BenchmarkPortal will air a new online radio show onCallTalk, (http://www.benchmarkportal.com/call-center-newsresources/calltalk-online-radio-show) discussing the positive financial effects of contact center technology on a company’s financial performance.
The host for this show will be Bruce Belfiore, CEO at BenchmarkPortal. The guest speaker is John Chatterley, senior research analyst with BenchmarkPortal and CallTalk co-host Dee Buell.
The online show will discuss the groundbreaking research that statistically ties technology to better performance of key metrics. Every year companies spend millions of dollars on technology in hopes of improving customer satisfaction, as well as a company’s competitive position and operational performance while reducing costs. Up until now there has never been a statistically valid research study, with data from hundreds of companies across a diverse set of vertical industries, that clearly indicates whether a relationship truly exists between more advanced technology and better company performance.
Dr. Natalie L. Petouhoff, a co-author of this research study, said, “While most companies still think of the contact center as a cost center, this study finally proves that adoption of more sophisticated technology results in not only improved customer and customer service agent satisfaction, but also in contact center efficiencies and effectiveness. For executives looking to justify management decisions regarding technology acquisition, they now have scientifically‐supported evidence that satisfying customers and enhancing financial performance are not at odds.”
The free online radio show will air Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET. Click here to listen toCallTalk, (http://www.benchmarkportal.com/call-center-newsresources/calltalk-online-radio-show)

April 12, 2012

Everyone Talks Too Much: The Reality of Increasing Customer Communications

Somewhere around the year 2000, we started noting that some call centers were experiencing dysfunctions caused by growth. Centers in certain metropolitan areas showed higher turnover rates and wage pressures that were not shared by all geographies. 

A few years later, we did a landmark study with CB Richard Ellis, in which we overlaid our performance metrics database with the CBRE geographic/demographic database and discovered some very interesting things. 

In effect, we noted that North Americans love to communicate with companies, and the desire to do so was only increasing over time. Even at that time, this growth was straining the ability of America to come up with enough call center agents to satisfy the voracious demand for information from consumers. Already somewhere between 3 and 4% of the working population in the U.S. and Canada was employed in contact centers, up from a fraction of that twenty years before. Our study showed that in certain employment regions (e.g., Phoenix, Tampa, Charlotte), the high demand for call center agents was causing dysfunctions such as high turnover and wage pressures. 

With no weakening of growth in demand for access and information in sight, we saw that there would not be enough American workers to meet the demand. Instead, three "safety valves" have served to relieve the pressure on brick-and-mortar centers tied to specific employment "basins": 

- Outsourcing. Both onshore and off-shore outsourcing have helped to spread out the geography over which brick-and-mortar agents can be found to answer calls. In many cases companies outsourced a portion of their calls while maintaining a sustainable workforce in-house. In other cases they have moved their entire operation to outsourcers, causing considerable pain to those affected. 

- At-home Agents. Technology introduced over the past decade has rendered at-home agents a reality. Here, as well, the operation is freed from a specific geographic locale, and a greater element of flexibility is introduced. Paying on-shore at-home agents on a per minute basis can be financially competitive with offshore outsourcing. Apple and others have been very successful with the at-home model, which has also been a blessing for people trying to piece family life together with work life, or people trying to reconcile physical limitations with career desires. 

- Self-Service (voice, Web, social media). Making it easy for customers to find the answers they need by interacting with technology is the key to self-service - and self-service has increased customer contact capacity hugely over the past ten years. Self-service through the IVR and through the Internet has made a major dent in agent-assisted calls, especially in certain vertical markets such as financial institutions. Most customer contact functions are still trying to understand how to harness social media 

- and we see exciting things happening. 

The key is to anticipate demand for information and to provide seamless quality of service that makes it a pleasure to deal with your customer contact function, whether that be through IVR self-service, chat, telephone agent or other. Remember, there are not enough workers in North America to handle every inquiry by phone the way it was done at the turn of the millennium. If everyone were to talk to a living North American every time they had a question, the volume and cost would simply be unsustainable. You need to determine how to optimize your operations by using all of the technology and personnel options available to you. 

If you would like to talk about ways to optimize your contact center operations or discuss how social media can be your friend, please contact us at Info@BenchmarkPortal.com or at http://www.BenchmarkPortal.com

Bruce Belfiore
CEO & Senior Research Executive

BenchmarkPortal Announces: Ameritas Group Contact Center Achieves its Fifth-Consecutive Certification as a Center of Excellence

BenchmarkPortal Announces: Ameritas Group Contact Center Achieves its Fifth-Consecutive Certification as a Center of Excellence

About the Center of Excellence Certification:
The Center of Excellence recognition is one of the most prestigious awards in the customer service and support industry.The certification process is management's best path to a World Class Quality Call Center. Contact Centers achieve the Center of Excellence distinction based on a best-practice metrics drawn from the world’s largest database of objective and quantitative data that is audited and validated by researchers from BenchmarkPortal.
A contact center that has been certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal has met and/or surpassed rigorous standards of efficiency and effectiveness. This certification is unique in that its achievement is ascertained strictly “by the numbers.” This means that the BenchmarkPortal team audits and verifies the center’s key performance indicators and compare that data to data from other peer organizations. This is different from other types of contact center certifications that typically focus on less results-oriented measures, such as process handling methods and procedures. 
BenchmarkPortal awards the "Center of Excellence" designation to customer service call centers that rank in the top ten percent of the call centers surveyed. They are judged against a Balanced Scorecard of metrics for efficiency and effectiveness. Those contact centers that demonstrate superior performance on both cost-related metrics and quality-related metrics compared with their industry peers earn the award. 

April 9, 2012

BenchmarkPortal Announces The 2012 Top 100 Call Centers Contest Winners

BenchmarkPortal Announces The 2012 Top 100 Call Centers Contest Winners

BenchmarkPortal, (http://www.benchmarkportal.com.) a leading call center consulting services group, recently announced the winners of its 2012 Top 100 Call Center Contest. Participants submitted performance data on key operating metrics. The three winners in each of three categories had the highest statistical values for efficiency and effectiveness, as computed by BenchmarkPortal's expert formula, using the world’s largest database of call center metrics.
The highest ranking centers in the large center (250+ agents) category are: Cigna (first place); Affinion Group (second place); and Regions Bank (third place). Medium-size center (100 to 249 agents) winners, from first to third place, respectively, are: the City of Edmonton (Alberta), BMO Harris Bank, and New York Life Insurance Co., AARP Operation. Small-size center winners (5 to 99 agents) are, from first to third place: Delage Landen, Neill Corp., and Delta Dental of Wisconsin.
“BenchmarkPortal salutes the winners – they are definitely leaders in the call center industry,” said Bruce Belfiore, BenchmarkPortal CEO. “Our Top 100 Award places a contact center among the best in the industry in terms of quality of service and cost efficiency. Their key metrics were benchmarked against our database – the largest in the world of contact center metrics. This is a great accomplishment.”
The contest participants were judged on their key performance indicators – including first call resolution, cost per call, call waiting time, customer satisfaction and agent satisfaction. Each participant received a complimentary 22-page customized report benchmarking their company against their peers, as well as a confidential web-based readout of the report with a certified BenchmarkPortal expert.
“The award process is based on actual performance,” stated Belfiore. “Recipients of the Top 100 Award have demonstrated, on a very objective basis, that they provide superior service and financial performance as compared with their peers. We congratulate them.”

April 8, 2012

EyeMed Vision Care Contact Center Achieves Its Third Certification as a Center of Excellence

The EyeMed Vision Care customer contact center has been certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal, a leading contact center research and consulting organization.  “Only the top 10 percent of those benchmarked annually achieve this distinction,” said BenchmarkPortal CEO Bruce Belfiore.   “Achieving Center of Excellence certification is an acknowledgement of strong management and leadership in the call center industry.

To achieve certification as a Center of Excellence, a company must undergo a rigorous benchmarking process, which compares the organization’s operational metrics to those of its peers, using the world's largest database of contact center metrics.  During this process, BenchmarkPortal experts audit and verify key data from the contact center applying for certification.

Factors (called key performance indicators) such as first call resolution, cost per call, call waiting time, customer satisfaction, agent satisfaction and utilization of human resources are taken into account. BenchmarkPortal is able to scientifically gauge how the contact center being studied compares to other centers in the same industry, and if the performance of the contact center is superior.  Customer satisfaction, which relates to customer loyalty and business growth, is the goal, balanced by financial metrics which show that the center is being operated efficiently.

“Center of Excellence certification indicates that the contact center delivers superior customer service within a responsible cost structure,” said Belfiore.  "A great contact center operation reflects its management's passion for balancing the demands of high quality and low costs.  EyeMed Vision Care has shown its ability to achieve that balance through its objective performance metrics.  We have validated its metrics and have certified that EyeMed is, indeed, among the best in its industry. I congratulate EyeMed on a job well done.”

“Benchmarking delivers a crackerjack profile of a contact center’s operations that can inspire management to move forward aggressively, even in a less-than-robust economy,” added Belfiore, who has been with the company since 2000.