According to William Durr, author of Navigating the Customer Contact Center in the 21st Century, call centers fall into several segments from a back office operation to a strategic asset. In credit unions, call centers start out as back office operations. These call centers ultimately emerge into a unit that supports a branch network, but often has no goals or metrics of its own. The organization may place more emphasis on the value of serving members via phone and eventually develop a more professional center. Professional centers look to manage caller wait time, measure call quality and improve member interaction. There is some limited measurement in a professional center, but no link between the call center and the rest of the organization. For example, the marketing department and call center may not coordinate activities. The final segment is the strategic asset segment. In this segment the strategy of the call center is completely aligned with the rest of the organization. According to Durr, strategic asset call centers imply that it is hard to imagine the company being successful without a call center operation.
A Call Center as a Strategic Asset
What makes a call center a strategic asset? According to Durr, call centers that are strategic assets at organizations do the following:
- Create new business opportunities
- Provide useful insights and information about the member
- Support new ways of doing business
- Are a unique, sustainable competitive difference
ING's call center representatives answer the phone with the phrase, "Thank you for calling ING, how can I help you save your money today." ING's call center helps extend the brand of the organization. Service Credit Union, a New Hampshire-based credit union with a field of membership that includes all U.S. military, operates call centers 7 days a week in both Europe and the U.S. to meet the needs of members that reside worldwide. American Eagle Federal Credit Union in Connecticut captures member comments and complaints through its call center. The call center interacts with thousands of members daily. American Eagle FCU's I-Sight solution allows the credit union to capture member comments and use them to impact the performance of the entire organization.
Measuring the Strategic Asset
High performing call centers that are aligned with the goals of the organization look at performance metrics in three areas: service performance, call quality and sales productivity. Service performance includes the operational metrics of the call center, quality measures the employee's interaction with the member and the usage of the core processing system to perform the transaction, while sales productivity highlights the impact the call center has on the growth of the credit union.
Callahan & Associates and Powerhouse Consulting recently ran a survey on credit union call centers. Some of the key measures from the survey include:
Source: Callahan & Associates and Powerhouse Consulting's Credit Union Call Center Study