Planning a Contact Center
What It Is
Planning a contact center requires a detailed analysis of your agency's mission and the customers you serve. Document what you know and what you need to achieve. Address the areas listed below before you move forward:
Vision and Mission Statement
Develop a mission and vision statement to document your mission and help you turn your vision into reality.
Your agency's budget will determine your strategy for establishing and operating your contact center.
- How many communication channels will you offer your customers?
- What types of technology will you use?
- What Key Performance Metrics will you establish?
Your budget dictates the answers to all of these questions.
Constructing a center for your agency's personnel office may be very different than constructing a center to serve the general public.
- How many people will realistically be interested in your content?
- Will your customer base remain stable, grow steadily, or fluctuate with special events or seasonally?
Determine how many customers you will serve, so you know how many staff you’ll need. Research the volume of potential customers and build a long-term plan for growth or decline in your contact center needs, according to your projections.
Seasonality and support for special events play a part in volume decisions as well. If your agency’s work is seasonal or needs support for unanticipated events that cause spikes in public inquiries, develop a plan to ramp up and down quickly in response to these events.
Ensure your content/service is unique to your agency. Don’t duplicate content/service that is owned or managed by someone else. Instead, provide the responsible agency’s website or contact information. If you find other agencies duplicating your content/service, ask them to refer their customers to you. If jurisdiction over a particular a topic is shared, work with the other agency to decide on a clear division point, have your agents handle the portion within your agency’s jurisdiction, and refer to the other agency for the balance.
- Medicare is a prime example. While Medicare entitlement is determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA), issues around Medicare coverage falls under the jurisdiction of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). SSA can help customers decide if they are eligible for Medicare, but refer questions about disputed services to CMS. Each agent handles the aspect of Medicare for which their agency has jurisdiction.
Customer Contact Strategy
How will your customers want to communicate with you? Audience needs and your budget will dictate which communication channels you can build into your contact center. Develop a strategy to serve your customer's immediate needs, and plan for the capability to add other communication channels as your program and customer base evolve.
Site diversity can mitigate the effects of weather, power or telecom failures by diverting centrally–controlled calls. Consider a multiple–center site strategy for disaster recovery/contingency planning purposes. Also, if you intend to serve customers in multiple time zones, having multiple sites in different time zones may ease staffing burden.
Will your contact center be in–house, out–sourced, or a hybrid? The A76 Competitive Sourcing Process, union obligations, and your agency’s current philosophy will all factor into whether your center is based in–house or outsourced. If your center will be outsourced, you can outline the high–level outcomes you’re looking for in your solicitation request and leave the technological details to the contractor who wins your award. If your center will be in–house, you’ll need a lot of specific in–house expertise.
What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that must be met in order to measure the success of your enterprise? KPIs such as Service Level, Abandonment Rate, Response Time, First Contact Resolution, Quality Score, and Customer Satisfaction Rating are often used as measures of how well a center performs.
The first rule in establishing these goals is: there are no rules! Budget will dictate some of your standards; the more agents you have on staff, the quicker your response time will be, but the more you’ll pay. Complex content, longer handle time, and case management also increase costs. Keep all these factors in mind when you set your performance goals and expectations.
Where will your center be located? Location can critically impact the service quality, economics, and sustainability of your center. Establish a set of criteria to guide the site selection process and improve your chances of obtaining an optimally-located center.