On-Call Case Study: Finding a Profitable Solution to a Time-Consuming Problem

Teleservice Company Achieves an 11 Percent Bump in Ongoing Monthly Billing

By Janet Livingston

Many teleservice companies have clients with on-call staff that must be reached for callers’ emergencies and urgent situations. Knowing who to contact and how to reach them seems like an easy situation, yet it seldom is. Here are some of the issues in play:

  • On-call responsibilities change often, rotating between staff, so that no one burns out or becomes overburdened. Contacting the correct person at the assigned time is essential.
  • Not everyone should attempt to handle every type of urgent situation. Instead of one person trying to serve as a generic on-call solution for everyone, the better resolution is to direct caller needs to specific on-call employees according to their expertise. This means having multiple employees on call, and the associated need to determine which on-call person to reach.
  • A third level of complication arises from the contact preferences of each person on call: home phone, cell phone, text, email, and so forth. The preferred method also can vary depending on the time of day and the day of the week.
  • On-call assignments can change with little or no notice, often at the last minute. Keeping everyone apprised of the latest developments can be a formidable challenge.

Now multiply these four issues times the number of clients with on-call staff, each with different paradigms, expectations, and levels of complexity. The result is a dizzying matrix of ever-changing variables and complicated scenarios demanding unrelenting compliance from clients. Handling on-call schedules and the associated details with accuracy presents a never-ending problem for teleservice companies – one that requires many people to handle.

Yet finding a successful solution to the on-call dilemma can turn a key source of frustration into a significant source of revenue. Here’s how this happened for one teleservice company.

The Problem: Too many errors occurred trying to reaching clients’ on-call personnel. Often this was not the fault of the call center, but rather stemmed from client miscommunication or noncommunication. Even so, these mistakes resulted in a disproportionate number of customer service inquiries and dissatisfied clients who ultimately cancelled their service.

Without a comprehensive solution to address the problem of maintaining accurate and up-to-date on-call personnel, this problem would continue to drain resources and cause issues.

The Past: Common industry attempts to correct this on-call dilemma have resulted in complex solutions that only somewhat addressed this pain point. An unfortunate side effect in doing so was increased labor costs, often by a couple of FTEs (full-time equivalents), without any offsetting revenue to cover the increase in expenses. Sadly these initiatives fell short of fully addressing the problem.

A common alternate approach was an attempt to streamline this issue by offering a one-size-fits-all solution. While this covered those clients with the most basic needs, it failed to provide an acceptable solution for those clients who didn’t fit into this one box. This was completely unacceptable in an industry that conditioned clients to expect mass customization of their service to meet their specific needs and exacting expectations. Service complaints escalated, and client cancellations skyrocketed because of this failure.

Furthermore, in an attempt to appease high-profile (or loudly complaining) clients, exceptions were made to the standard solution. This resulted in staff confusion, an increase in errors, and the eventual disregard of the standard set in place, thereby returning the teleservice company to its original untenable situation.

This scenario has played out over and over in teleservice call centers around the world.

The Challenge: A comprehensive solution was sought to address frustrations at an established West Coast call center and meet their clients’ growing expectations. Offering bilingual service and focusing on government and education verticals, the call center had a felt need in this area, especially for clients that fell outside of these two primary markets.

The objective was to develop a clear process for clients to submit on-call information that would encompass the full spectrum of their needs, while reducing staff errors, decreasing the number of FTEs dedicated to this issue, and providing additional revenue in the process.

This seemed like an impossible challenge, but with ingenuity and persistence, the call center found a solution that mixed automated technology with personalized customer service and worked in tandem to address these needs.

The Results: Once implemented, noticeable results occurred quickly with appreciative agents, relieved customer service staff, and happier clients. Because of this initiative, monthly revenue increased 11 percent. This is a month-over-month increase that will continue indefinitely.

This initiative was repeated at a smaller operation in the southwestern United States with similar results. A third implementation at a multilocation teleservice conglomerate is under way with the potential to surpass the success of the first two.

When we see problems as opportunities, we can focus on maximizing the potential they present. The results are improved operations, happier stakeholders, and increased revenue.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a full-service call center consultancy. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706.

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