May 25, 2006

Q: How can banks measure contact center performance?

Barry, OneUnited Bank: Metrics include a net increase in sales or revenue as tracked through the contact center; reduction in full-time employees within the branch or administrative staff directly resulting from the contact center; reduction or increase in call duration resulting in a focus on service versus sales; the source of calls (i.e., Web, direct contact, transfer); and the number of calls handled to completion versus handed off to an escalation point.

Ridley, ShoreTel: I don't believe there is a single piece of information that provides a magic answer. You have to look at the customer experience -- how long customers wait, how long it takes to get the answer and whether they arrive at the right spot. These are measured with wait time, service time, and first and done rates. Beyond this, a customer survey program that measures the satisfaction level after the service is provided is essential. On the operational front, you have to look at the agents' activities in terms of service time versus idle time. You have to look at how the team performs, understand the obstacles and develop plans to increase the overall performance.

Philonenko, Cisco Systems: Measuring first-call resolution is critical. It tells a bank how often customers are getting their needs met in a single interaction and, more important, how often they are not. Analyzing the situations that require multiple calls can surface a business process problem that needs remedying. For banks using self-service systems, it's important to monitor the percentage of transactions where a customer "zeros out" to speak with a bank representative. This too can help identify a process problem. By focusing on process improvements, banks will be able to reduce agent expenses and improve service, thereby reducing the incidence of customer churn while keeping costs in check.

Q: How should outsourcing/offshoring fit into a bank's overall contact center strategy?

Barry, OneUnited Bank: As a community bank, it is difficult to achieve the volume necessary to warrant outsourcing or offshoring. More appropriate for a community bank contact center, staffing and costs can be managed and possibly reduced by utilizing remote teleworkers who are employees of the bank but who are located at their homes and are connected by secured VPN. This reduces costs by requiring less office space to house the staff while maintaining quality service through captive employees who would have completed the institutions' training and be directly measured. This could be decidedly different for a large bank, but concerns would still be the privacy of customer information and enforcing it outside of the borders of the United States.

Philonenko, Cisco Systems: Managed contact center services are a great way for banks to leverage the latest technology without the capital investment or IT management costs. Outsourcing staff can be managed effectively for some transactions if data is made available via a secure network. Inquiries on service fees or calls to report suspicious items on bank statements can be easily handled by outsourced agents, who can answer questions and file claims without the need to control money transactions. Today's IP contact centers allow this sophisticated data sharing and call routing without impacting the customer's experience. **

--Peggy Bresnick Kendler