Author Archives: Ashish Singla

Tips to ruin your call center career

Traditionally call center career is considered to be an easy way to start your professional life even with limited skills. With over 17 years of experience in this field now, I have seen loads of people joining call center and turning it into a dead end job. Achieving this is fairly easy if you don’t want to grow in this industry or are comfortable in a single position. Just follow one or more of these tips and you will most likely ruin your call center career. Be warned that doing the opposite of below recommendations might lead to a promotion or fast career growth.

• Don’t focus on your KPIs – KPI or Key performance indicators are the baseline for measuring efficiency of an individual in call center. Just be oblivious to values like NPS, CSAT, AHT, sales target and you are half way through. The good thing about this advice is that it works for all levels right from telecaller to head of operations.
• Be invisible- You will not need any super powers for this one. Just make sure to have minimum interaction with your manager and seniors. The less they know that you exist lesser will be the chance that you will be recommended for any new assignment or promotion. With large team sizes in call center industry, it is very rare that senior management will recognize more anyone apart from their direct team. People who are more visible because of their good work or participation in various activities tend to stand out and thus have a better chance of faster career progression.
• Refuse any additional work- Make sure to refuse working on any additional assignment or task being given to you. Say that you have to take your dog to a vet or any such excuse. If you are still not able to wriggle out of it then simply do a bad job of it. Taking up additional work apart from your daily work will make you seem to be proactive. Proactive people are generally seen in a good light and thus have more chances of being promoted.
• Never work overtime- Never agree to put in extra hours. Even when you know that your manager needs your help, just give some excuse and get out of there. Management has this habit to identify hard workers from the lot and then give them extra work. Once you have been identified as one of these lot they will try to retain you no matter what thus leading to a successful career.
• Ignorance is Bliss- These are certainly wise words and can go a long way in ensuring a dead end call center career. Simple trick is to keep your knowledge of your company or the product and process you are working on to be very limited. Knowing the processes or product in dept will lead to you being seen as a subject matter expert or SME. Managers generally tend to consult or guide new people to be mentees to such individuals. You know what happens next, first SME and then a team leader and we certainly don’t want that.

Any one or combination of the above tips are a sure shot way of stalling your call center career growth. Doing the opposite will surely boost it!!!

Another article you might find useful
Tips to handle difficult bosses: Easy, practical & fun

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Filed under callcenter operations, Careers, contact center, Customer Service, Interview Tips

Average Abandonment Rate in call center

Average Abandonment Rate or Abandoned percentage as it is commonly known is the percentage of calls dropped or abandoned before being answered by an executive.
Let’s understand this with an example:
Say during a particular interval a total of 50 customers called on your helpline and chose to speak to an executive. Due to call flow all these customers went into a call queue before their call was answered. Out of these 50 customers 10 chose not to wait for their call to be answered and dropped the call or in simple words hung up. So in this scenario the Average Abandonment Rate or Average Abandoned percentage will be
Abandoned%= (Calls abandoned/ Calls offered) * 100 = (10/50)*100 = 20%
Keep in mind that Average Abandonment Rate is directly linked to Average speed of Answering ASA or Average Wait TimeAWT. Greater the ASA or AWT higher will be abandoned percentage.
Another simple way of calculating Average Abandonment Rate is to simply subtract Answering rate from 100%
For example if for a particular period answering rate is 92% then the abandoned% for this period will be 100%-92%= 8%
IF you are managing operations in a call center then this is a very critical parameter to gauge the performance of your process. You will need to manage your staffing carefully during peak call flow intervals to keep abandoned% to a minimum level
Another critical parameter that you would want to know is Call Center Service Level : Definition and Calculation
In case you find the information useful, please spare a few seconds and leave a comment below to let me know what else would you want to know about call center careers.

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Call center FCR First Call Resolution explained

First Call Resolution or FCR as it is commonly known in call centers has evolved as a key parameter to measure the efficiency of a process.
Some companies call it FTR or First Time Resolution
Let me first give you the basic definition and calculation of First Call Resolution.
FCR is defined as the number of calls answered by an executive which were not escalated or the customer did not have to callback the helpline for the same concern for a specific interval of time. That is customers concern was resolved in the first call itself.

Calculation of FCR
FCR = Total number of calls received only once during an interval / total number of calls received during that interval
I know this is a little confusing so let’s understand it with an example
Suppose during a specific day 3 customers Tom, John and betty call up the helpline of their mobile operator.
Tom calls and enquires about his monthly bill and is given complete details.
John calls and complains that his mobile is not working. The executive tells him to wait for an hour and his concern will be resolved.
After waiting for an hour John again calls back and informs that his mobile is still not working. This time the executive tells him to change some settings on his handset and it starts working.
Betty calls to get some service activated on her phone and the executive helps her with that.

Now in the above example Tom’s and Betty’s call will be considered as FCR but John’s calls will not be considered as first call resolution as he had to call twice for the same concern.
So FCR in this case = 2/4= 50%
Let me change the scenario a little, suppose the executive handling John’s first call had got the settings done and his mobile started working. In this case John would not have called back after one hour and so the FCR would be 3/3= 100%
Keep in mind that FCR is a subjective parameter and different companies calculate it differently. For example some companies do not consider the nature of inquiry while considering the repeat call. Say if John had called twice for two different inquiries unrelated to each other still his calls will be taken as repeat calls. That is because according to some companies the executive should have probed and anticipated the next call. Whereas some companies consider only calls related to the same concern as repeat calls and not unrelated calls even if they are from same customer.
Another variable is the time difference between two calls from the same customer. For considering a call to be repeat or non FCR some companies consider 24 hours from the first call to be the ideal threshold whereas it may vary from industry to industry.

Another critical parameter that you would want to know is Call Center Service Level : Definition and Calculation

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Call Center Service Level : Definition and Calculation

Call center service level is defined as the percentage of calls being answered in a specified time. Service level or SL as it is commonly known is the most basic and essential parameter to track a callcenter’s performance.
Most times you will get a service level target like 80-20 or 90-60 or any similar value which is a combination of two figures. Let’s understand what this means. When you get a SL target of 80-20 this means you are expected to answer 80% calls within 20 seconds, that is 80% calls offered on your callcenter should have a queue time of less than 20 seconds.
Similarly a service level of 90-60 would mean that 90% calls should be answered within 60 seconds.
Now that you understand the meaning of the term, let’s move to the calculation part of it.
Suppose you have been given a SL target of 85-15, that is answering 85% calls in 15 seconds. You will require the following values:
1. Total calls offered during the interval for which SL has to be calculated
2. Calls answered within 15 seconds (You will get this value from ACD report, that is the software you use to distribute calls across callcenter)

Now that you have these 2 values it is fairly simple to calculate SL. The formula is”
Call center Service Level = (Calls answered within said duration / Total calls offered_ * 100

For example in above case if the total calls offered were 1000 and the total calls answered within 15 seconds were 900 then the Service level would be:
Service Level = 900/1000 * 100 = 90%

Since the target given to us was 85-15 that is to answer 85% calls in 15 seconds and we have answered 90% calls in 15 seconds, hence the SL target is considered met.
Suppose we had answered 800 calls in 15 seconds then the service level would have been 800/1000*100= 80%, so the SL target was missed.
Hope this clarifies your doubts about this topic, if not just leave a comment below and I will get back to you with the solution.

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Filed under Call Center Calculations, Call Center Terms, callcenter operations, contact center, Customer Service

Essentials to grow in callcenter career, an interview with Sean Hawkins

The one thing I have been asked most frequently is the secret to grow in callcenter industry. To get an answer to this I got an opportunity to interact with Sean Hawkins. Sean Hawkins is a Customer Experience and Contact Center expert with over 15 years of call center experience. In that time, he’s worked in numerous roles in the public, private and government sectors.

His many years in contact center leadership have provided a solid understanding of the call center environment. Sean has a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center. He’s implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while maintaining an award-winning contact center.

Let’s know Sean a little better and see what advice he has for us to excel in this field.

How did you come to join call center industry?

After discharging from the US Navy, I worked in an auto plant and went to school. After graduation, I had the chance to work for a company in Stockton, CA. as a one man IT department/Support Team. I was under qualified, uncertain of myself and deathly afraid of making mistakes. It was an amazing experience!

It is said that it is difficult to grow in call center field, what has been your experience?

I would disagree. Growth and advancement abound in the contact center. I think leadership has to do a better job of professional development with their staff and helping them create a career path. Lack of growth is generally due to these reasons.

When and how did you get your first promotion?

My first promotion occurred a few months after I started in my first call center back in 2000. I was promoted to a Technical Lead responsible for taking escalations from our Tier 1 team.

What are the 5 essential skills that one must have to make a successful career in call center?

That can vary based on the call center you are in, and what you are supporting. I’d say the most important are a high EQ, an ability to understand data, understand basic metrics, a great work ethic, and love for the job.

What terms/matrices should be known to all successful call center professionals?

Well, there are so many terms and matrices, to try to remember them all could be quite difficult. Furthermore not all are used in any given center. I’d say first learn what is used in your current center. There are some common metrics such as CSAT, Handle Time, Custom Effort, Score, Net Promoter Score, TSF, and ASF that are certainly worth knowing.

Who have been your inspiration/mentors and what key lessons did you learn from them?

I’ve had many in my career from Joyce Nyhaug, Erie Luces, Sarah Stealey-Reed, and John Tedesco. From a personal standpoint, my wife (Yvette Hawkins), parents, grandparents, and in-laws have influenced and inspired me as well.

I’ve learned that effort, determination, aspiration, a thirst for learning, and kindness will take you very far in life.

Tell us a little about Call center weekly

That is a blog I created with Jeremiah Methvin and Brooks Webb. We had a desire to provide a forum for call center agents and managers to share their stories, offer their advise. So often it is the those on the front lines who are responsible for successes, but they rarely have opportunity to receive recognition. The blog was a way to give voice to the front line staff.

What other resources do you recommend for people in the field of contact center?

There are organization such as ICMI, CCNG, HDI that specialize in contact center training. If possible, attend conferences, seminars, and webinars. I’d also take advantage of social media. Connect with people, companies and organizations and begin to engage them.

What advice do you have for call center professionals who feel that they are stuck in a single profile?

I’d encourage them to seek out mentors, ask questions, and find resources to help you. There are so many opportunities available to you

So readers this was Sean sharing some insights into fast tracking your callcenter career. Do let me know if you have any queries. You can write to me at ashish@callcenterdecoded.com or just leave a comment below.

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Filed under Call Center Terms, callcenter operations, Careers, contact center, Customer Service, Interview Tips

Call Forecast in call center

Call forecast in a call center is simply an estimated call volume you expect to land in your call center in the future. A timely and accurate call forecast will help you hire and train correct count of manpower well in time. Generally, companies tend to forecast call volumes 3-6 months in advance. It depends upon hiring and induction time for the process.

Factors used to determine call forecast are as follows

  • Calls per subscriber trends: This is the trend of count of calls you receive in your call center over a month divided by the total subscriber base. For example, if you have 100 subscribers and you get 50 calls in a month then your Calls per Subscriber(CPS) will be 50/100= 0.5
  • Historical call arrival trends: This is the trend of calls you received in previous months or the same month the previous year. This trend depends on multiple factors like holidays, major events, extreme weather conditions etc.
  • Planned product launches: Any new product launch might lead to an increased call volume which should be forecasted.
  • Major change in product or services: A new servicing, marketing strategy might lead to an increase or decrease of call volumes. This should be factored at the time of call forecast activity.

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Work Force Management Part 2: Calculate required manpower in a month

In this post, we will learn how to calculate required manpower you would need to hire in a given month. Accurate required manpower projection form a crucial part of Work Force Management. So, let’s get going.

Calculate required manpower in a specific month:

The parameters you will require in order to calculate this value are as follows:

  1. Forecasted Calls (FC)
  2. Average Call Handling Time (ACHT)
  3. Average Staffing Time for each executive
  4. Required Occupancy Levels
  5. Planned Shrinkage
  6. Unplanned Shrinkage

Now go through the following steps to calculate required manpower.

Step 1:
Based on your average daily call forecast, calculate required present manpower for a particular day.

Step 2:
Calculate required manpower count you require to cater to the planned and unplanned shrinkage. For example, if your daily planned shrinkage is 15% and daily unplanned shrinkage is 10% then you need to roster approximately 33% more manpower.
Why 33% and not 25%?.
We will understand this with an example
Let us suppose that my average daily required present manpower is 100 executives
With a shrinkage of 25 executives the present headcount will be 100-25= 75
To make up for this shortfall we need to roster 25 extra executives i.e. 25/75 *100= 33%

 

Keep in mind

  1. Planned Shrinkage includes weekly off and any planned leaves/attrition.
  2. Unplanned Shrinkage includes absenteeism and unplanned attrition

 

In case you want to calculate required present manpower, you may check out another one of our articles about Work Force Management.

Also, you may check the extensive definition about WorkForce Management on Wikipedia.

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Work Force Management Part 1: Calculate required present manpower in two easy steps

Have you always thought Work Force Management (WFM) to be a complicated task? I will try and break this myth in this and subsequent posts.

Calculate required present headcount on a specific day

First thing in Work Force Management is knowing the count of executives which you need on floor on any given day. The input parameters you will require for this calculation are as follows:

Now go through the following steps to calculate the manpower:

Step1:
Calculate the call handling capacity of an executive (CHC)
CHC= (Staffing time * Occupancy%) / ACHT
For example if you have to calculate CHC of an executive with staffing time of 400 minutes/day and ACHT of 10 minutes, working at an occupancy of 80% then
CHC = (400 * 80%) / 10 = 32

So, an executive will be able to handle 32 calls in a day. Keep in mind, both Staffing Time and ACHT have to be in same time unit i.e. minutes or seconds.

Step 2:
Calculate required manpower in a day(RMP)
RMP= FC / CHC
For example if the daily forecast is 3200 calls and CHC is 32 calls then
RMP= 3200 / 32 = 100
So you will need 100 executives present to take calls to cater to this call volume.

This is a linear calculation which can be used for both inbound and outbound call centers.

 

If you are looking for way to calculate the required manpower in a month, check it up in another work force management article here.

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Basic requirements for call center job

So you have been pondering over for some time now to go for that call center job but are not aware of the basic requirements for call center job. We have come up with a list of basic skillset that you may find handy to decide if you’re cut for the job.

Following are the 7 basic requirements for call center job that are expected of a candidate:

  1. Communication Skills: This is the first and the most important skill you will require to work and grow in a call center. Clear verbal communication skill is a must for telecalling profile. You can choose between domestic and international processes based on the languages you know. Gift of gab will go a long way in this profile.
  2. Listening skills: Another key skill required in this profile is the skill of listening. One needs to hear what a customer is saying without interrupting him/her. Understanding what is being said forms a key requirement of this job.
  3. Computer Skills: Almost all call centers use computers for Customer Relation Management applications. An executive is expected to use a computer to fetch and input relevant information using the recommended software. Although companies will train you on their customized software but one is expected to have a basic set of computer skills.
  4. Patience: This is the mantra to make a career in call center industry. You will need to interact with all kind of customers day on day. They might be polite and respectful or rude and abusive. One needs to keep his/her calm while interacting with any such customers.
  5. Multitasking: You become a master juggler once you start working in a call center. If you can manage multiple tasks at the same time then you will feel right at home in this profile. You will need to check customer details, punch in information and do a bunch of other stuff while talking to the customer, all at the same time.
  6. Flexibility of Time: Most call centers operate 24×7. As a result, the employees are expected to work in shifts. You might get a fixed or rotational shift. Even the weekly off or holiday might keep shifting.
  7. Interpersonal skills: Call center job is all about interacting with people. Not only customers but also peers, supervisors, trainers and others. Good interpersonal skills will be the key to grow in this industry.

 

You might also like

8 Tips for Call Center Interview

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Average Handle Time : Definition and Calculation

In call center language Average Handle Time is also known as AHT. Some organizations also use the term ACHT which stands for Average Call Handling Time. So Average Handle Time is the time that a call center executive takes to complete an interaction with a customer. In simpler terms AHT is the time from where the call center executive answers the call to the point where he finishes the call and fills the relevant documentation for that customer and is ready to attend the next call.

Formula to calculate Average Handle Time for a single call:

Handling Time = Talk Time + Hold Time + After Call Work Time

So Handling Time is the sum of Talk Time, Hold Time and After Call Work Time.

Let me explain the above mentioned terms:

Average Talk Time also known as ATT is the total time a call center executive is talking to a customer.

Average Hold Time is the time for which a call center executive puts the customer on hold by pressing the Hold key on his phone. Keep in mind that blank or dead air does not count as hold time, it is added to the talk time or ATT.

After Call Work Time also known as ACW is the time the call center executive spends to complete customer documentation or tagging into the CRM tool.
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How to calculate AHT

The formula shared above holds good for a single call or interaction. Now if you have to calculate the Average Handle Time for an executive for a whole day the formula will be the sum of Handling time of all the calls of that executive for the day divided by the total calls answered by that executive. For example if Charles answered three calls in a day with the following durations:

Call 1 = 100 second

Call 2: 150 seconds

Call 3: 200 Seconds

Then AHT for Charles for the day will be (100+150+200)/3 which is 150 seconds

Another way to calculate the AHT is that you calculate Average Talk Time ATT of all calls that is sum of Talk Time of all calls divided by total answered calls,

Average Hold Time of all Calls and Average ACW of all calls and then add the three.

Another critical parameter that you would want to know is Call Center Service Level : Definition and Calculation

Grab your free excel template of daily performance report pre-loaded with Service level, AHT and other formulae in your mail by registering here

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