The Optimization of Small Contact Centers

SMB - Small Contact Centers

What is needed to run a small contact center well? These centers for SMBs embody the majority of the call center industry at this time, at around 66 percent. Still, the largest share of attention from technology suppliers still goes to larger centers or those with 150 seats or more. Can this be expanded upon with the use of VoIP?

Traditionally, technology suppliers have gone after the larger profit margins offered by the larger contact centers, and the smaller centers have been content to reap the benefits of the trickle-down effect.

It stands to reason that there are still some SMB call centers that are still not using VoIP, as SMB call centers have generally been reluctant to adopt new technologies. This may be rooted in a fear that the acceptance will not only drain the quintessentially limited resources available to these smaller contact centers but will also be disruptive as well.

There are a number of advanced technologies that are available to assist the SMBZ call center. One of these is Workforce Optimization (WFO). Generally speaking, a complete WFO solution includes the following individual tools. These four tools will work harmoniously with other contact center technology solutions, and with each other as well. They are:

  • E-Learning
  • Performance Management and Analytics
  • Quality Management and Monitoring
  • Workforce Management

The industry press first started reporting on the term “Workforce Optimization” in 2003. Since that time, it has swiftly matured into a proven technology with a proven and rapid ROI, finding acceptance in the US contact center industry.

Quality monitoring is the most mature portion of the suite, at over 70% market penetration. Although the other areas still have some way to go before they reach a saturation level, they still have a good foothold, at over 36% each.

WFO is no longer a solution available only to the largest and deep-pocketed of call centers. It’s now a mainstream solution available to the industry as a whole; indeed, at this point, it’s no longer merely desirable. It’s almost a necessity. As the name implies, WFO is a suite of productivity tools that provides immediate results both in terms of ROI and performance improvements. Given its maturity, it’s also considered a proven thing at this point.

Additionally, WFO provides a competitive requirement in the post-recession customer-care industry. Today, the size of the call center no longer conveys an advantage. Now, even SMB call centers can compete quite effectively with the largest ones. Given this, SMBs’ low acceptance rate of the WFO suite seems strange.

This may be due to misinformation and obsolete beliefs about this kind of tool. It is true that the earliest deployments of WFO required a considerable amount of software integration work. This was then followed by the use of ungainly administrative tools which frequently required separate log-in and control for each portion of the WFO suite.

However, this is not the case today. Many positive architectural changes have been made to all facets of WFO, thereby ushering in the age of WFO for the SMB call center.

Web 2.0, as well, has changed the WFO game. Early WFO concepts relied heavily on proprietary architecture to provide the underpinnings of WFO applications. Currently, however, Web 2.0 offers a fully open application platform to the contact center industry.

For the next generation of contact center software – including WFO – it is likely that Web 2.0 will continue to be the chosen platform, due to the architectural advantages it provides.

Providing an intuitive and flexible user experience that’s also open to personalization, Web 2.0 all but eliminated the scurrilous intimidation factor that frequently comes with proprietary interfaces, both on the user and administrator sides.

It also provides lower costs of ownership and decreased support overhead, as it is less dependent on hardware. The development of in-house applications can be done quickly and easily, as it will no longer require specialized training or skills.

Image Source: Busy call center operators in a modern office

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