By Drew Robb
On Net Communications is a busy outsource call center located within the tranquil setting of Weardale in northeast England. Launched in January of 2004, it carries out work for various organizations but specializes in the local government and education sectors. The workload is currently split 60% outbound and 40% inbound.
This expanding company currently has 20 agents, nine full-time staff and 11 part timers. It utilizes advanced multi-media technology and offers a full range of customer contact management services.
Until recently, On Net Communications utilized standard spreadsheet programs to manage its internal operations. “Administrative staff had to manually keep track of agent activity, campaign planning, and call volume trends,” said Maureen Stanton, Managing Director of On Net Communications. “This was time consuming and inefficient – amounting to twenty or more hours every week.”
Planning and managing multiple campaigns at once was a real problem using On Net’s old-fashioned system. As a result, planning was done on a somewhat haphazard basis. It was purely driven by estimates.
As an outsourcer, On Net Communications recognized the need for a program to help plan and monitor numerous campaigns at the same time. It selected Monet by Left Bank Solutions, a Workforce Management System for small and mid-sized contact centers. The results were immediate. “In terms of administration, we have reduced hours spent on campaigns from 20 hours per week down to five,” said Stanton. “It automates the process of forecasting call volumes which has greatly improved service levels.”
Multi-Media Call Centers: Studies show that it is inefficient to permit agents to respond to emails or faxes between calls. However, the most efficient call centers can smoothly incorporate non-call activity into the daily call center schedule. As a result, their agents are more productive and the work environment is less stressful.
Monet’s multi-media capability allows blended contact centers such as On Net to schedule non-call related activity. This capability, also known as “banding,” permits call center managers to schedule email, fax, and other non-call traffic during off-peak periods. Additional functionality allows agents to have blended schedules based by day of the week, skills sets available and maximum/minimum time slot objectives.
For example, at On Net, 90% of staff time is devoted to telephone, 8% to email, and 2% to fax. Due to interest expressed by clients, short message service (SMS) or text messaging is also being introduced. “We expect the percentage of SMS to grow rapidly this year,” said Stanton. “The multi-media functionality of the [Monet] software has enabled us to offer our customers sophisticated multi-channel call center capabilities.”
Affordable Optimization: “The great thing about the software is that it is an affordable way for us to offer services that rival those of the largest contact centers,” concludes Stanton. “In addition, it has enabled us effectively manage staffing schedules which in turn has made it easy to predict campaign costs.”
What difference has this made to the bottom line? On Net reports an immediate return on investment. “The Monet Workforce Management System reduced our center costs in a matter of days and you can simply use the system to produce center budgets by running a costing of all forecasted agent shifts and agent schedules,” said Stanton. “This has increased our profitability by 20% since the beginning of the year.”
Drew Robb, a freelance writer based in Southern California, specializes in technology and engineering issues.
[From Connection Magazine – May 2005]