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Web Support  >  Resources  >  Call Center Operations

Call Center Operations


Image  Front-Line Support Incentives
Do support agents respond to performance incentives? This ASP research report draws on data from 153 respondents to identify best practices, success criteria, and potential problem areas for various types of incentive plans.

Image  A Guide to 7x24 Support Plans (2010)
ASP survey research explores current industry practices in setting service levels, pricing models, and service delivery for after-hours technical support. In addition, the report offers suggestions for handling key implementation and management issues.

Image  Setting Limits on Unlimited Support (2009)
A provocative ASP report explores the question whether the best way to deliver high-quality support is to answer every question that customers ask.

Image  The Great Customer Experience (2008)
How to deliver a Wow! experience.

Image  Management Performance Benchmarks (2007)
Relative importance rankings for ten areas of management performance.

Image  Tech Support Turnover Rates (2006)
Benchmarking data on employee departures for various sizes of organization and experience levels.

Image  Maintenance & Services Ratios (2008)
Revenue and cost benchmarks based on 100 individual public companies, updated annually, plus expert advice on revenue recognition, services accounting, and other financial issues.

Image  Tech Support Reporting Channels (2005)
Prevailing org chart models for support organizations.

Image  Tech Support Cost Ratios Survey (2004)
Benchmark data for revenue and headcount ratios, labor and overhead costs, productivity, escalation, fee-based support, and other useful metrics.

Image  How to Manage Junk E-Mail (2004)
Spam is overwhelming tech support auto-responders and e-mail mailboxes.

Image  Doing More With Less (2003)
Advice from support managers and other experts on how to improve efficiency and cut costs.

Image  Tech Support Outsourcing (2002)
A look at outsourcing costs and performance metrics, with advice on how to negotiate better contracts.

Image  Indicates complimentary Open House hours

Image  Mikael Blaisdell, principal, Mikael Blaisdell & Associates

Image  Rick Kilton, principal, RWK Enterprises

Image  Kristin Robertson, principal, KR Consulting

      Tom Sweeney, principal, ServiceXRG

Image  Colin Taylor, president & CEO, The Taylor Reach Group

Image  Françoise Tourniaire, principal, FT Works

Image  Phil Verghis, President, The Verghis Group


Direct-to-Support Staffing (Jim Hendrickson)
How to implement a real-time support model.

Escalations: The Ticket to Successful Problem Resolution (Kristin Robertson)
A formal methodology for managing escalations and SLAs.

Combining Service Excellence with Profitability
Purdue University's Dr. Jon Anton offers a strategy for making the "middle 60%" ("customers who cannot be ignored, but who are hard to serve in a profitable manner") a new source for services growth and profitability.

Why Customers Call Tech Support and What Tech Writers Can do About It (Jack Molisani)
One way to reduce call volume is to fix the documentation.

Timberline's Turnaround Tactics
An inside look at how a dysfunctional support group got back on track.

Tech Support Teamwork (John Gniadek)
Six tested methods for creating a more tightly-knit support team.

How to Motivate Middle Managers (Mia Melanson)
Managers need a supportive work environment as much as the people they manage.

E-mail Management Tips (ASP)
Some fresh ideas on expediting e-mail support requests.

Scheduling: The Relationship is Not Linear (Kay Khandpur)
Advice on efficient staff scheduling using queuing theory mathematics.

Management Tips From The Experts (ASP)
Practical and non-textbook tips for improving productivity, customer satisfaction, morale, team building, recruiting, career development, budgeting and forecasting.


Speed vs. Satisfaction
"Has anyone seen evidence that satisfaction rates go up when the average speed of answer improves? We're trying to make a business case for a few more agents on the phone, but it's surprisingly hard to find concrete data on the potential ROI."

Channels—With or Without Support?
"My company is about to take on a few resellers to supplement our enterprise sales force. Some of my colleagues argue that our resellers should provide support, while others here want us to provide all support directly. A third group says we should leave the choice up to individual resellers. Any advice?"

Individual SLAs for Major Accounts?
"Our sales reps routinely negotiate customized service-level agreements with big customers, and the reps insist it 'doesn't cost anything extra' for us to respond to a customer in two hours instead of four or eight hours. But these different SLAs are a nightmare to manage. Help!" Suggestions?

Managing phone coverage
"I have about 50 support reps, and we've been using a central Microsoft Outlook calendar to keep track of which reps are supposed to be providing phone coverage during the day. As you can imagine, a merged calendar for 50 people can get really cluttered. Can anyone suggest an inexpensive, easy-to-use alternative for managing staffing levels?"

E-Mail writing standards
"A few of our support reps have real problems writing a grammatical English sentence. They insist that e-mail is a 'different medium,' so punctuation and spelling aren't important. Who's right?"

Tracking time
"My support staff performs lots of different tasks during the day, some of which take just a few minutes. I'd like to figure out how to allocate their time on average, but I can't walk around with a stopwatch and they probably won't fill out time sheets accurately. Help!"

Better mail management?
"Most of our support requests come in by e-mail, and we've been using a shared Outlook mailbox to distribute these messages to staff members, who mostly work in remote locations. This isn't very efficient, though, and we'd like to move to a better mail management tool. Any suggestions?"

After-Hours Equipment
"When techs work at home providing after-hours coverage, is it customary for their company to provide a notebook computer and Internet connection? My new boss wants me to use my own PC, but it's often used by other family members. Any advice?"

Waiting for Auto-Close
"How long should we wait for a response from the customer before automatically closing an open incident? And should we send out reminder notices? Right now, we're probably closing cases too quickly, but if we auto-close after a longer period, this will have a negative effect on our performance stats."

Getting to Know a Consultant
"We'd like to bring in a consultant to give us an independent look at our support programs. But we don't want to spend a ton of money and then end up with a report full of vague generalities and recommendations about things we already know. Is there a smarter way to get a feel for a consultant's works?"

Office closures and telecommuting?
"We occasionally have to close our offices because of heavy snow. Most of our employees have PCs and can keep working from home, but a few don't. I don't feel it's fair to dock the pay of the people who can't telecommute, but it also doesn't seem right to pay them for not working when everyone else is being productive. Advice?"

How do we benchmark our productivity?
"I've been studying the productivity benchmarks in various research studies (including the ASP's), and the numbers suggest that my own reps are superstars by comparison. I guess that's reassuring-but I don't honestly believe we're that good. Your thoughts?"

Call center mergers
"My company has just merged with a major competitor, and I'm supposed to develop a plan for integrating the call centers (which are a thousand miles apart). Help!"

Overseas escalation?
"Our support organization is transitioning from one U.S. location to multiple, global locations. Issues will be escalated to specialists across the globe. In the past, with only one support office, the original support engineer retained ownership, using a 'touch and hold' model. Will it make more sense now to switch to a 'front-line/back-line' escalation model for global support?"

How should our chargeback system handle indirect costs?
"Our company recently put a chargeback system in place that was supposed to allocate support costs to individual product groups. Now the product managers are arguing that we should only charge them for direct labor costs, while I say we should add an overhead factor (about 50%) that captures all of our indirect costs. How do other companies resolve this problem?"


DMG Consulting, West Orange, NJ 07052; 973/325-2954.

Westbay, West Sussex, UK; +44 1293 88850973/325-2954.
Web: Erlang C calculators for forecasting call center traffic; other tools.

Global Response, Margate, Fl 33068; 954-973-7300
Web: Outsourced customer contact solutions and call center services for multichannel retailers, direct response advertisers, healthcare and insurance providers, government and higher education.

Ohio Business College
Web: PC Support Specialist Business Diploma

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Spectacular Support Centers
Kristin Robertson
Click image for details.

The Ultimate Customer Support Executive
Phil Verghis
Click image for details.

The Help Desk Audit
Julie L. Mohr
Click image for details.

Help Desk Practitioner's Handbook
Barbara Czegel
Click image for details.

The Art of Software Support
Françoise Tourniaire and Richard Farrell
Click image for details.

Microsoft Sourcebook for the Help Desk
(Second Edition)

Meg Olsen, project manager
Click image for details.