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Audit: a key step toward a world class contact centre

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Structured and formalised contact centre assessment, audit and benchmarking can leave ‘blood on the floor’, but it’s critical in helping contact centres move toward world class status writes Chris Bell, Territory Manager at Interactive Intelligence.
A benchmarking exercise tells the contact centre where it stacks up against competitors and internationally, and gives it a baseline for planning. Benchmarking will answer questions like: Where are we? Where are we going? It will also answer the many ‘why’ questions: Why are we performing the way we are? Why are we experiencing problems?

Meeting world standards
According to The Independent Customer Contact Centre Association, to be recognised as a world class contact centre, a “tick in the box” in the three key areas is required. First, the contact centre must be aligned with the organisation’s core business strategies and operations, as well as the tactical changes that come from the boardroom.
Second, the contact centre must meet specific standards. It must sustain an external audit and achieve a better than 85% compliance with standards as defined by the organisation. The starting point is for the organisation to create a list of its own operational standards.
The third component is that a world class contact centre is benchmarked against similar operations. At least on an annual basis, it must measure performance, not only against competitors in the local environment, but also with similar operations on a global basis.
The contact centre must achieve at least 85% compliance with what is considered to be best practices on a global basis. It is a process that takes time, with the journey from foundational to world class likely not to be less than three years.

Benefits of best practices
Oaksure Insurance Brokers, which had already done two audits and is preparing for its third on a journey toward a world-class contact centre, said its contact centre improvement programmes have already reduced cancellation rates by 50% and increased revenues by 55%.
When Oaksure Insurance Brokers began its contact centre journey, it worked with this best practice approach in mind. The contact centre had to align with the company’s business strategy, business vision and operational standards, then look at compliance.
The standards required are not always well understood, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The contact centre manager now has to focus on external compliance, not just internal. The manager has to understand the total ecosystem in which the company operates.
Assessing, auditing and benchmarking Oaksure Insurance Brokers’ contact centre operations made sense in order to show that it was reducing the cost of operations; that it was increasing efficiencies and revenues; that it was improving customer satisfaction; and that it was reducing risk.

Assessment toolsets
Oaksure Insurance Brokers said its contact centre looked at operational metrics and technologies, internal communications, recruitment, remuneration and training, contact centre structure, and health and safety considerations. You need to look at all aspects that affect your business, whether it’s people, technologies or processes.
A number of benefits have been realised. The company managed to improve team collaboration, motivation and alignment across departments. It also identified ways to increase efficiencies through process mapping. Oaksure Insurance Brokers also identified risks and implemented measures to mitigate risk. And it managed to increase revenue through selling quality policies, which in turn reduced the number of cancellations. Now team members and management are passionate about this world class journey.