By Alan Hartmann
Most call centers find controlling labor costs to be the most significant factor affecting their overall profitability. The wide variety of agent-scheduling programs and the popularity of profitability reports attest to this, but both of these approaches to efficiency and profitability rely on the idea that the future can be predicted from historical patterns. However, any number of unusual factors can conspire to ruin the best of schedules, resulting in needless overstaffing or woeful service levels. Owners of multisite centers have more than twice the management headaches; not only must they worry about agent- and supervisor-staffing, but they often have the added burden of managing one of those centers remotely.
The best solution to maximize long-term efficiency is one that complements management practices with an operational concept specifically designed to respond quickly and painlessly to unexpected demands in call traffic and allows you to manage both emergency and day-to-day operations easily wherever your work takes you. That concept is the hosted call center.
As the recent “snowpocalypse” that paralyzed major portions of the United States this past winter proved, no amount of scheduling software can prevent the double whammy of unexpectedly high traffic and agents who are not able to get to the office. Hosted centers protect you in that situation since there is no requirement for “at home” agents to reside in any particular geographic area, and your staff can work even when they can’t “get to work.”
Some of the benefits that hosted platforms bring to workforce management are well known. They are ideally suited to “at home” agents who can often fill in quickly to cover unexpected absences or unusual traffic patterns. They allow long-term employees who suddenly find themselves in a relocation situation to be retained through home office arrangements, avoiding the need to hire and train new agents. For multisite managers, it’s possible to handle 100 percent of overnight or emergency traffic in just one center, saving countless headaches. Even for single site call centers, hosted platforms offer the ability to route all overnight calls to a service bureau, greatly enhancing efficiency of labor. Finally, hosted solutions provide significantly greater flexibility to cope with short-term changes in traffic, such as holidays or temporary campaigns.
The twenty-first century idea of “business without walls” has proven to be a very valuable idea for a wide variety of industries, and the hosted call center is a large part of the telemessaging industry’s gateway to this future.
Alan Hartmann is a vice president with Professional Teledata.
[From Connection Magazine – May 2011]