Call Center Consolidation

Learn why it is essential for call centers to consolidate and how it can be done
Call Center Consolidation

As for call center consolidation, it makes a great deal of sense for a number of reasons, including the rapid progression in technological advances enabling better access to organizational information for call center agents and customers. Since there are similarities in the tasks performed and overlap in the services provided by currently separate call centers, there is an immediate potential for economies of scale. One person in a large group can handle more calls at a given service level than they can in a small group. It is consolidation_01pointed out by Mitchell (2001) that efficiencies can be achieved up to a center size of approximately 50 agents. According to this point, incremental gains are minimal if they occur at all. Many call centers contain many more than 50 agents, the maximum optimal size for their subunits or teams is 50. Some other motivators for call center consolidation include reduced equipment costs, simplified implementation of new technologies, better control over service quality, and reduced management staff requirements.

Call centers used to segmented calls on the basis of skills. Moreover, consolidation can also occur within a call center by rationalizing the segmentation of some agent groups. For instance, in a bank, commercial loans require different skills than personal loans. However, in other settings, technical help requires different skills than service, which requires different skill than sales. To Mitchell’s (2001) knowledge management, process management, just-in-time training, and CRM all contribute to the tearing down of skills barriers to service. He notes that:

"...today's segmentation strategies no longer look to agent skills as the basis for routing calls, but instead focus on client value to determine what services to provide through what media. Low value customers get routed to self-service technologies. High value customers get high-touch service. No matter who or what the customer ends up interacting with, the agent, human or computer, has all of the services, corporate knowledge and process flows needed to handle the customer requests."

If speaking about educational environment, the concept of “low value” and “high value” customers has no place; however, the concept of segmentation is potentially useful. The segmentation would be based on student characteristics (program versus non-program, graduate versus undergraduate, area of study, etc.), as well as type of query. Some queries may be routed to self-service areas, while others are routed to specialized agents. After the data is collected within the call center it will be informed to the segmentation. Improvement of data will allow each agent to handle more diverse and more difficult calls, and as more knowledge becomes incorporated into knowledge systems, training becomes more an exercise in teaching agents the “how to's” of developing customer relationships rather than focusing on each product or service offered.