Call Centre Basics.

By Niels Kjellerup Editor of “The Call Center Managers Forum”; 12.07.09

Over time to obfuscate the lack of real results in a customer service centre we tend to overcomplicate what it takes to manage a successful call centre. This is my list of the 5 key ingredients to success in delivering meaningful customer service.


1. The Commercial Purpose.

A service center needs to have a well defined and documented ‘commercial purpose’, a reason to exist. It provides the guidance for the centres management to know what is expected and how well the center is doing. It also provides the key reason why the organisations senior management is willing to allocate funds and resources to the customer service center.

An example of a commercial purpose could be: “Happy Customers who buy more, more often”.

2. Key Value Indicators.

A call center needs KPI’s which measure the activities in the centre and provide the indicators of how well or badly the centre is doing. What you measure is what you get and when your KPI’s are not focussed on measuring value created for the organisation the centre will deteriorate into become a Galley Slave Center producing ‘completed calls’ and other products defined by vendor metrics of little or no value the rest of the organisation. The call center has become a ‘call factory’.

Key Value Indicators are KPI’s but measure creation of the values seen by senior management to be part of the business model.

Example of KVI’s:  1. Customer Net Promoter Score, 2. First Call Resolution & 3. Speedy answer of customer calls, i.e. percentage of calls answered in 20 seconds.

3. Customer engagement.

The service activity should be concentrated on improving the ‘customer experience’, because that is what determines how the customers feel about the organisation. Getting service reps to engage with the customer is only achieved when the center management engages with its service staff. Forget training service staff unless you first train the managers to understand their role as coaches and leaders who continually reinforce the importance of producing better customer experiences. Only management focus on call outcome and the customer experience will ensure a culture which encourages the service reps to do the same.

4. Motivation.

Motivation of service staff hinges on allowing them to produce great outcomes for the customer and gaining recognition. The conflict between wrong KPI’s and encouraging customer engagement is what causes demotivation of service staff. To better understand the basics of motivation read Prof. Hertzberg’s article “One more time, how do you motivate your employees” (here).

5. Improving existing processes.

The backup processes to improve service delivery often lags way behind the rest of the organisation. Analog processes are slow and the continual work to digitise such processes and removing unnecessary time-consuming decision points is crucial to the customer experience.


These 5 points are your basics to improve your call center, to reduce staff turnover and customer churn. It’s NOT technology based and you don’t need large investments. What is needed a good portion of common sense and willingness to change. Good luck.

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