There is a customer-power revolution taking place. The pervasive use of the Internet has created a smarter, more buying-savvy customer. For example, J. D. Power reports that 70% of automobile buyers enter the dealer showroom already armed with specifications, invoice prices, and information on dealer margins and promotions. Travelers can go to the Web for travel deals from Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity, competing directly with the traditional travel agents and providers. Even healthcare information has resulted in better informed patients asking their physicians for specific treatments and prescriptions.
Call centers have come a long way in the past five years in terms of elevating the role and stature of their operations. One contributing factor is the move to provide certification programs that can designate an individual or center as meeting a specific set of standards or having defined skills and knowledge. While some of these are only meaningful within the context of a single employer, there are others that are intended to make certification transportable so that hiring managers and potential clients can use such certifications in their recruiting strategies.
Service-level goals are key performance indicators (KPIs) in most support and contact centers. These goals measure the time callers spend in queue. In benchmarking surveys, the most common goal given by respondents is to answer 80% of calls within 20 seconds. Another common response is an average speed of answer (ASA) of 30 seconds or less. But not all contact center professionals understand the calculations that make up these statistics and that different statistical methodologies can produce varying results.
The role of workforce management software is to use historical data to predict the future, creating a reasonably accurate forecast of workload and a schedule for staff which matches it. Generally, the historical and even real-time data comes from the ACD or from the reporting system associated with the ACD. The advent of third-party routing systems is changing the configurations required to support accurate forecasting and scheduling.