Pre-subscription No Cost Assessment
Before you subscribe to SCO, we’ll give you a no cost, no obligation assessment of what you have to gain. The assessment process is simple:
1) Download the SCO Assessment Template in XLSX format.
2) Fill out the brief survey describing your call center.
3) Paste your call detail data into one of the worksheets
4) Next upload the completed XLSX file
If you don’t have the expertise to export data to the suggested format, just upload what you have and describe it. For example, you might find it easier to upload a database back-up file and a data dictionary.
We’ll preview what you have sent us and let you know if it’s suitable. If the data is relatively easy to transform, we’ll perform the necessary transformations for you. If it’s too much work to do for free, we can give you a quote for data transformation services or you can invest the time to export your data to our standard format.
To request access to the SCO Survey and data upload tools, please complete the following request form: Request an SCO Assessment Form.
What to expect immediately from an SCO subscription
The SCO assessment gives you very conservative estimates of your savings and improvements. These are not improvements that appear gradually over time. These are overnight improvements that will likely shock you. To get started on those improvement you will need to subscribe. The subscription immediately gives you your first forecast.
The first day your agents follow a schedule that tracks to the SCO forecast, wait times and productivity are expected to set the bar higher than you have ever seen it before. It gets even better week-by-week.
If you are a government organization with a fixed customer base, then happier callers, improved first call resolution and higher agent productivity will significantly reduce your staffing requirements. SCO will tell you exactly what you can afford to trim.
If you are in a competitive industry, higher retention and increased referrals will drive new growth in revenue, profitability and market share. SCO will tell you how to hire and when to time the new staff.
Near Term Cascading Improvements
As you move into weeks 2, 3, 4, etc. of using the SCO forecast, you may experience evolving changes to talk times, productivity and customer base. Talk time may drop significantly because callers are waiting less and having more productive conversations. Call volume may decrease in response to the more productive calls and lower re-servicing rate. It’s also possible to see talk times increase. This is not necessarily a bad thing. When agents are under less pressure to empty a queue, they invest the time to fully service each caller. Those longer talk times will likely translate into higher revenue per call, better resolution rates, higher customer retention and increased referral business.
Long Term Improvements
One of the significant limitations of conventional forecasting methods is that they tie a growing business to its old capacity levels. The limitation is unavoidable because answered plus abandoned calls results in forecasts that can’t move beyond the rate that callers are leaving your queues. Under those constraints, callers experience highly variable wait times. Those who wait the longest tend to make decisions to reduce or cancel their future business. The high attrition rate keeps the system in relative balance. The forecasts never responds to the growth of the customer base and the flight of customers ensures that the growth never materializes.
SCO removes those restrictive capacity limitations and provides an ongoing exact measurement of how to staff every 15 minute interval. That staffing curve leaves you prepared to absorb the evolving growth and volatility. Labor productivity remains high thanks to a small but consistent queue. Just be prepared to either grow or shrink according to the insightful guidance of SCO.
Pitfalls to Avoid
a) High service level intolerance
Once you start operating with SCO, never reduce staff based on what might be perceived as excessively high service levels. SCO call centers achieve phenomenal service levels with thread bare staff and near perfect labor utilization.
When your queue is thinly padded with a small number of calls every minute of your day you have reached the apex of staffing efficiency. Every caller gets answered swiftly and agents are never idle. When you hit unprecedented service levels, those new to SCO may be tempted to aggressively cut staff. However, loosing just one agent would put you into a significant deficit. Every interval your queue would grow by the amount of work that the missing agent would have done. At the end of the day, you will have frustrated every customer that waited in the growing queue.
To maintain the delicate balance, SCO tells you what you can trim. It also equips you to defend your staffing levels and high service levels to senior management. If the high service levels attract more customers, SCO will tell you how to absorb the growth.
b) Irrational schedule adherence
For years, you have been taught to adhere very closely to the schedule. It’s been essential to stabilize your conventional forecasts. If you allow agents to service callers into their planned breaks the artificial manipulation of call counts stops working. Without the false manipulation, the conventional forecast practice quickly falls into chaos. The illusion of forecast accuracy would evaporate. When intra-day call counts vary from plan, they drive the next forecast into sporadic patterns. Those forecasts impose impractical and wasteful fluctuations into the schedules.
Strict schedule adherence has been essential towards muffling the instability of call count data. Unfortunately, strict adherence to yesterday’s plan will always be out of phase with the needs of today. It’s like steering a car based on what you would have seen through the window three weeks ago. Strict schedule adherence asks agents to blindly follow a plan that is based on a blend of three week old forecasting data. That’s a tough sell because most agents realize that the callers on the phone today are not following the three week old plan.
The nature of schedule adherence has always been backwards — “don’t respond to the needs of callers today, please service callers according to what our forecasting expectations were yesterday.”
Once you switch to SCO, you have the freedom to step away from backward adherence habits. SCO forecasts are unaffected by how you actually staff because they are driven by real demand, not by your capacity to satisfy it. With SCO, you will get the best wait time and productivity results by asking agents to follow the spirit of the schedule. That means fully service each customer and take the proper quantity of break time as close as practical to scheduled times.
Lets say you are an Airline or a Cable company and you are persistently facing queues that range between 20 minutes and an hour. The excess telco costs alone are costing you between $400,000 and $800,000 per year for every 100 agents you have. Then, there is all the lost revenue from callers who decide to buy elsewhere or cancel their monthly accounts. If you’d like to start saving that money and retaining those customers as soon as possible, you can request a high priority assessment. You will move to the front of the queue. Its a worthwhile investment towards finally solving the problems that have cost your business so much money for so many years.