DSC Tech Library
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to CRM Applications and Customer relationship management software and products. Providing customer service is vital to maintaining successful business relationships. Accurate and timely information provided in a professional manner is the key to any business and service operation.
Telemation, our CRM software application, was built on this foundation. But the flexibility to change is just as important in this dynamic business environment.
Telemation call center software was designed with this concept from the very beginning.
That is why so many call center managers, with unique and changing requirements, have chosen and continue to use Telemation CRM software as their solution.
Our Telemation CRM solution is ideally suited for call center service bureaus.
Contact Center Simulation – Taking the Guesswork Out of Contact Center System Design
By: Martin A. Prunty, Managing Director
Source: Contact Center Professionals, Inc
Designing an effective contact center is a challenging task. With today’s complexities, which include voice response unit (VRU) menus, complex, multi-site call routing schemes and skills-based routing, coming up with the right design is critical.
Unfortunately for most contact center professionals, the tools to make these decisions effectively are not available. As a result, theoretical designs are often implemented without the benefit of knowing what the actual impact will be. Therefore, customers end up becoming unwilling guinea pigs for new contact center implementations, or for major changes to current system programming.
Contact center simulation is a technology that has been around for many years. However, most industry professionals have yet to appreciate its value. Using sophisticated software engines that are specifically designed to duplicate most complex environments, simulation tools can help optimize contact center operations and predict the result of changes before that change is implemented.
Duplicating Current Environments
To effectively achieve the benefits of simulation, the process begins by duplicating the current contact center environment. Trunk groups, network routing schemes, unique locations, call routing instructions and agent groups are duplicated in software using statistics from the current VRU, ACD and other systems.
Complex routing schemes, including multi-site network routing, VRU menus, alternate routing via overflow, and many others are programmed in a similar fashion to how they are programmed on actual systems. Using data from available sources such as the ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) system, actual offered calls, abandoned call rates and handle times are entered into the system. Agent groups, configured with the same number of agents that are staffed to the handle calls, are established in the programs to take calls as they arrive at a predetermined service level objective.
While it is not possible to completely duplicate a given environment due to factors such as the randomness of call arrivals, a simulation tool emulates random call arrival by “firing calls” through the system on a one-by-one basis. Arrival patterns can vary in numerous ways and the average handle time of calls, which make up the overall call load, can be comprised of varying handle times, as they would in the real world.
“What If” Exercises
Once the current environment has been duplicated, the task of testing new options becomes simple to manage. Contact center simulation can be used to validate many important design considerations including:
- New technology purchase decisions. Simulation tools enhance any new purchase decision by allowing the user to build in anticipated impacts, such as handle-time reductions or call volume reductions, into the simulation model. Calculating factors that impact return on investment can be more easily quantified using this method.
- Network routing strategies. Numerous network call routing strategies, including percent allocation, interflow, network-based call-by-call routing, and virtual call center, can be duplicated and results can be measured in terms of service level, staffing requirements and cost.
- Use of skills-based routing. Call routing strategies to agents, such as virtual agent, skills-based routing, and agent skill groups may be established and compared to determine the most cost effective and efficient ways to configure agent resources.
- Disaster recovery plan effectiveness. Perhaps one of the most important uses of call center simulation is that of testing business continuity plans. What happens when a call center site is lost and calls are routed to another site? Simulation provides a realistic view of the likely impact of any possible disasters on a contact center location or multi-site environment.
Making Subjective Arguments Objective
Creating objective, quantitative arguments for making changes to a contact center is always a difficult task. Senior management is known to frown on recommendations that are supplemented by statements such as “Based upon our best estimate, we anticipate the results our the change will be approximately “x”.
While simulation cannot predict the exact results of any proposed change, it does add a level of objectivity that is otherwise impossible. The value of simulation use in the development of business plans lends enormous credibility to a business case and makes a strong statement about the level of thought, planning and testing that have gone into technology or operational change planning.
Where is simulation heading?
Contact centers are highly-complex environments. As a result of this complexity, the need to change and evolve are extremely important. Being able to assess events that are outside of the traditional contact center model, including sales and marketing activity, new media, and external influences such as economic changes or disasters is extremely important. Simulation allows us to understand this complete customer handling process by duplicating all processes that affect the center. Further, it enables contact predict results before making changes that can impact your bottom line.
As contact centers become larger and more complex, simulation modeling will become a required tool enabling users to manage growth and expenses.. While the initial cost to procure contact center simulation is initially high, the return on investment that results from operational efficiencies is fast when the tool is used effectively. Simulation tools make contact center operations far more effective. In today’s fast-paced contact center industry, it is a tool that is becoming as essential to management as the headset is to a call center agent.
The article originally appeared in www.contactcenterpro.com
Martin A. Prunty, Managing Director
CCPi is an independent call center consulting firm recognized for its experience and integrity. With a staff of professionals averaging over 20 years experience in the industry, CCPi is dedicated to helping its clients dramatically improve the performance of their customer service and support operations. We offer a full line of services including call center consulting, contact center design, technology design, performance optimization, outsourcing analysis, call center management training, and other consulting services.