Call Handling Considerations
The following is a short list of important considerations when evaluating the right solution for your inbound call center.
- Multiple inbound numbers per client
- Automated data collection and advanced reporting
- Custom IVR routines to gather consumer information
- Support alternate routing for Holidays and Normal Working Hours
- Skills based routing to handle multi-lingual, teams, etc.
Inbound Call Center Features
Route callers to the right queue, with the right priority, and route them to the next available agent with the right skills.
Self service auto-attendants help route your calls to the appropriate queues or persons.
Toll Free Numbers (TFN)
Provision new toll-free, international toll-free and DID numbers, or migrate existing numbers for your inbound call center.
On demand conference bridges can be deployed to DID/TFNs or just internally with or without password access. As well, you can record your conference calls.
Offer your callers an opportunity to leave voicemails for individual agents or for a specific queue.
Callers that exceed time limits set on queues can be automatically routed to other queues, specific agents, voicemails, or transferred to an external number.
PBX extensions can be added to queues manually as well as interconnect with back office employees also on the Kunnect system.
Assess the quality of agent performance and the customer experience, and use recordings as supporting documentation for transactions.
Ensure a positive customer experience by silently monitoring agent conversations with contacts, whisper coaching and barging in when needed.
Dozens of reports exist, providing ACD / Abandon reporting, as well as agent activity.
Control center views allow you to visualize existing queues and caller activity, so you can proactively adjust your service levels.
Access contact information, call activity and call recordings quickly and efficiently for quality assurance.
Support virtual call center operations with a distributed workforce, flexible resource allocation, and new hiring models.
Voice Over IP (VoIP)
Leverage the low cost and high scalability of the internet for your phone calls, with crystal-clear voice quality.
Every call center wants to keep its agent idle time as low as possible, and its agent talk time as high as possible. This system encourages both groups of inbound and outbound agents to make outgoing calls when the demand is necessary but also to make outbound calls when incoming calls are slow. This makes for an efficient contact center.
Call Blending Can Maximize Call Center Productivity
The Kunnect system will assist managers in fine-tuning the balance between real-time resource availability and demand across multiple media in order to maximize staff productivity while reducing costs.
Setting up inbound and outbound campaigns, by mixing and matching available agents to communications requirements are paramount in optimizing call centers using call blending. It can be employed to meet operational targets, service levels and staff motivation needs.
Modern contact centers still tend to operate in silos, with the inbound and outbound operations kept segregated. By employing a call blending solution, managers will ensure that there are enough agents to handle calls when the volume is high and that productivity levels do not slip when calls are low.
The importance of call blending is growing all the time; those failing to implement it will lose out. The role of the call center is expanding and becoming more complex; allowing agents to handle a range of call types will only serve to increase its effectiveness.
The hype about at-home agents has been ramping up for years, though the number of companies adopting this practice has been relatively small. Reasons why call centers are holding back include technology, geography, vertical, and time frame. Currently, at-home agents are most popular in the United States and increasingly in Canada, so for the time being, at-home agents are basically a North American trend. Many financial services organizations are interested in using at-home agents but are concerned about data security, including payment card industry (PCI) standards and other regulatory issues. (A few financial services firms have successfully addressed these challenges already.) Retailers appear to be highly successful early adopters of the at-home agent model, as are a number of companies in the travel industry and a growing number of outsourcers. Emerging at-home agent best practices are coming from these firms, based on practical and proven techniques.
What Drives At-Home Agent Adoption?
Not surprisingly, cost reduction is the primary factor driving the adoption of at-home agents. Organizations look for cost savings in three categories: a lower pay scale for at-home agents (often two to three dollars per hour less than for an on-site staff) because they do not need to drive to an office, purchase work clothes, or buy lunch. (Many companies believe that they should share in these savings, but keep in mind that at-home agents' electricity bills generally increase substantially, so they incur offsetting expenses.) The second savings category is the ability to close an office building, reducing real estate and occupancy costs; most companies using at-home agents talk about these savings. The third savings category is also staff-related: reduction in agent attrition rates, better attendance, and improvements in schedule adherence. All companies using at-home agents report a very significant decrease in staff attrition and an increase in morale. Of course, this is after they weed out the agents who are not able to work at home and whose at-home work environment is not conducive to professional conversations.
Other factors cited in favor of using at-home agents are the need for business continuity and the desire to reduce hardware costs. Managers are still debating whether the company or agent should be responsible for their PC, network connectivity, and other technology expenses. Some companies believe that it's fair to ask agents to pay for their hardware and network fees, considering this an important cost-savings issue. Others point out that practical aspects of this decision may override the benefits. If everyone has a different PC, troubleshooting technical glitches can become expensive. Additionally, without good and readily available technical support, small issues may turn into lengthy outages, hurting contact center service levels. Therefore, having agents purchase and maintain their own technology may be a short-term savings that costs more in the long run. Alternatively, to avoid these issues, some companies supply a standard PC but require agents to pay for their own network connectivity.
Challenges of At-Home Agent Programs
The most challenging aspect of implementing an at-home agent program is making sure the right people are staffing these jobs. To address this issue, many companies allow only their top performers to work from home. To set expectations about roles and responsibilities, an established best practice is to use a work-at-home contract that specifies the necessary work environment, all job requirements, and performance goals. Most companies that use work-at-home contracts have a zero-tolerance policy. Their contracts generally require at-home agents to have a home office or dedicated workspace where they can do their job without ambient noises or interruptions from children, pets, or delivery people. The contract makes it clear that after one breach, such as a dog barking, the agent will be asked to return to the office, and if they are not able to do so, they will be fired.” Should be “The contract makes it clear that after one breach, such as a dog barking, the agent will be asked to return to the office. If they are not able to do so, they will be fired. While this may sound harsh, both sides buy into the concept because in most situations working at home is considered a privilege by both management and agents.
A second major challenge for at-home agent environments is the handling of performance coaching. In general, coaching is initially attempted over the phone. If this does not work, the agent is asked to come into the office for further coaching. As a result, many companies that use at-home agents try to keep their employees relatively close to their office. A couple of companies said that they only allow people who are within one hour or fifty miles of their office to work at home. However, another reason for wanting agents to remain in close proximity to the office is so that they can commute to the office in case their home environment is having technical issues that cannot be resolved on a timely basis. This may result in some downtime and understaffing, but it keeps it to a minimum.
A third challenge with the at-home work model is security. This issue still needs work, as there is no bulletproof method for securing a work-at-home environment. Some organizations require that systems be wired directly into their network; some use a Citrix desktop that has a security layer; others do not allow agents to load anything locally onto their PC; and a few organizations use home auditors to conduct surprise visits. (Talk with your human resources and legal departments before using home auditors for spot checks, as this presents its own set of potential issues.)
Going "green" is not yet a primary driver for employing at-home agents, but it is a theme that managers have started to consider. It's possible that a state may give companies a tax break for using at-home agents. It's also possible that the federal government may do something similar in the future. As this could translate into significant financial savings, it's a good idea for companies to explore the possibility.
State employment laws create another layer of issues that employers need to keep in mind when considering an at-home agent program. These laws and regulations can present challenges, particularly for staff located in other states or foreign countries. Legal and regulatory concerns can make out-of-state agents complex to use and costly to support, which is one reason why a growing number of companies are turning to outsourcers to meet their at-home agent needs.
The Kunnect XVP system offers a vast array of reports which cover three vital aspects of call center management.
Supervisors have access to several agent metrics:
- Payroll information
- Occupancy time
- Contacts per hour
- Revenue computations
- Break time analysis
- Campaign workflow
Supervisors have access to several campaign metrics:
- Sales reports
- Disposition analysis
- Revenue computations
- Service levels
- Lead analysis
Supervisors have access to pertinent lead information:
- Disposition analysis
- Time zone inventory
- Call attempt analysis
- File penetration
- DNC management
Kunnect current supports a DSS (Data Security Standard) which closely mimics that of PCI (Payment Card Industry). Below is a description of our offering:
Build and Maintain a Secure Network
- Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
- Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
- Use and regularly update anti-virus software
- Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
- Track and monitor all access to network resources
- Regularly test security systems and processes
Protect Cardholder Data
- Protect stored customer data
- Encrypt transmission of sensitive data across open, public networks
Implement Strong Access Control Measures
- Restrict access to customer data by customer only
- Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
- Restrict physical access to data NOCs
Maintain an Information Security Policy
- Maintain a policy that addresses information security