Contact Center Consolidation

 

One of the surest ways for a contact center to achieve improvements in both service quality and cost performance is to take advantage of economies of scale.  To gain these efficiencies, fewer, larger agent groups are often better than having many small agent groups; operating larger centers is often better than operating many small centers.

 

In the past, there have been practical limits to how large an agent group or center could grow.  Issues like training, database access and the size of the labor pool constrained the efficiencies that could be gained through scale. Physical limitations remain but, increasingly, new technologies and old business practices can enable enterprises to consolidate groups into larger "virtual" centers. Indeed, such "virtual" consolidation has been the trend in recent years.

 

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 demonstrates the need for disaster recovery and redundancy, and for greater physical distribution of facilities.  The more recent trend toward remote and at home agents would seem to argue for more distributed architectures.  But the idea of con­solidating centers and operations doesn't always run counter to these trends. In fact, some of the technologies and business processes discussed below enable contact centers to become truly "virtual" rather than just physically distributed.

 

Moreover, the renewed emphasis on disaster recovery is only one of many factors to be considered in an overall economic analysis. Business pressures demand that customer contact be managed from a cost/performance point of view, and increased competition demands improved service performance. Consolidation, logically and physically, can achieve these seemingly incompatible goals.

 

How do you know if you are a candidate for consolidation? What are the signs of these opportunities? How does one take advantage of these situations? What technologies are needed? This article will address the pros and cons of consolida­tion, describe the most common manifestations of consolidation opportunities and present a variety of solutions addressing the most pressing obstacles.

Contact Center Consolidation

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This article originally appeared in Business Communications Review, December 2001 issue pp.24-28  Updated in July 2006 to discuss remote and at home agents.

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