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It's no surprise that labor costs for call-center workers vary greatly based on location and the type of calls being handled.
October 2, 2004
3 Min Read
It's no surprise that labor costs for call-center workers vary greatly based on location and the type of calls being handled. In an effort to control costs, businesses are considering alternatives to managing customer care in-house, including partnering, splitting, or relinquishing call-center management to third-party service providers.
InformationWeek's sister publications, the Managing Offshore newsletter and Call Center magazine, recently conducted a study of more than 500 customers, vendors, and companies to examine business-technology practices in call-center management. Regardless of the approach taken, one aspect of call-center management is paramount: freeing up critical customer information while ensuring its safekeeping.
"Between Do Not Call registration and the controversy generated by offshoring, call centers have attracted a tremendous amount of negative attention," says Rusty Weston, editor of Managing Offshore and InformationWeek Research. "This study highlights that both business and consumer customers are dissatisfied with, and wary of, offshore call centers."
Restricting physical access to call centers and the use of program-specific logons and encrypted communications are techniques contact centers use to protect customer information. About two-thirds of the study's corporate call-center workers report that their companies rely on these strategies to safeguard customer data. More than half also say inbound and outbound data is monitored, while two in five report that changes to consumer records are documented and audited to avoid data corruption. Some companies have hired a full-time person to oversee how customer data is used.
Senior Editor, InformationWeek Research
Do your clients identify the location of call- or contact-center workers?
Of the 55 call-center providers surveyed by Managing Offshore newsletter and Call Center magazine, about half say workers staffing the phones will identify their location if asked. Sixteen percent will volunteer the information. However, slightly more than a third report that companies that hire their services don't require them to share the center's location with callers.
Where are the locations of your call centers and help-desk operations?
When hiring a vendor to manage consumer phone calls, instilling a policy of transparency about revealing the location of the center is a sound way to go. Take the 55 vendors in the Managing Offshore newsletter and Call Center magazine survey. Nine in 10 have operations in the States. However, nearly half also support offshore phone centers and two in five have contact centers closer to home, in either Canada or Mexico.
How risky is exchanging personal data with a call center?
There's always an element of risk that someone unauthorized is listening when personal information is divulged either over the phone or online. This risk isn't lost on customers, including those using call centers. Of 475 call-center users surveyed about their call-center experiences, more than half report being somewhat apprehensive when sharing personal data. One in five considers disclosing personal information very risky. Only a quarter of call-center users report no risk is involved.
How satisfied were you with the experience after telephoning a consumer call center?
Perhaps apprehension about providing personal information would subside if call-center users were more pleased with the service rendered. When asked to rate their satisfaction with recent call-center exchanges, nearly 80% of call-center users were to some degree disappointed; 30% weren't very satisfied with the service received. Only one in five report being satisfied with call-center experiences.
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