Real Time and Historical Data

Call centre operations run on data, both real time and historical. While historical data provides information about trends and clues on problem areas, real time data provides information about the state of operations at the current time. If call centres were airplanes, then historical data would be used to build better airplanes and fly them more efficiently in the long run, while real time data would be used to fly the airplane as best as possible right now in the current operating environment.

Call centres have already implemented (or use) the first level of technologies from which realtime operations data can be derived. Examples include Automated Call Distributors (ACDs) and Dialers. Data from these systems are readily available to operations managers, and are sometimes available to team leaders. However, training on the interpretation of this data for real time action has not yet taken priority. Also, most data is in a “raw” format. It is not packaged into a readily consumable format that would enable managers to make quick instant decisions. Therefore, even though real time data is available, managers need to spend precious time on a spreadsheet reformatting the data and calculating composite metrics.

Industry Skills Requirements 2013 Research Feedback

BPeSA commissioned research among industry senior management, human resources and training personnel to identify minimum industry skill levels required so that suitable training programmes can be designed to satisfy them. Greenfields Institute of Business was commissioned to undertake this research on BPeSA’s behalf.

In the BPO business, Supervisors or Team Leaders, are the key to maintaining operational performance. They are expected to undertake several activities simultaneously such as team briefings, monitoring, coaching, leave planning, floor support and many others. Given that the research has shown a 77% correlation between these activities and operational performance, a strong operations governance mechanism to track, monitor and review these activities will result in the improvement in people and process efficiency.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Learning and Development
Research Report – 2014

With the increasing maturity in the workforce and the growing realisation of the shortageof good quality Team Leader or Supervisor skills, there may well be a shift towards an increased requirement for training that develops middle and senior management.

This up-skilling will most likely also be required for the increasing complexity of the BPO sector, the move towards multi-channelling and the increased management challenges that come with globally distributed operations management. Whether this requirement will be enough to justify an increase in the requirement for certified courses in these areas isdebatable, as these peculiarities are more likely to be addressed through internal training, with the fear of loss of Intellectual Property potentially playing a role here. There are also predictions that suggest that BPO operations will increasingly cater for niche markets, service and product offerings, which means that a greater emphasis will need to be placed on specialist skills training, including foreign language skills for certain, which will provide employees with the more specialised skill sets to be able to better assist clients inthese niche spaces. Other specialist skills that receive training include MI Analysts, Work Force Planner and Managers, Quality Assurers and Training Facilitators.

What Training service providers can take from this, is that there will be an ongoing need for the creation, accreditation and delivery of quality curricula, especially within the foundational and lower-management sections of the BPO industry, but also in the specialist roles once these are registered on the Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO) by the industry professional body.

Best practice methodologies, trends and L&D strategies are focusing on continuous learning, meaning that employees and organisations are looking for more than just the completion of a course, but rather a full learning experience. To deliver this full learning experience, from design, development, delivery and assessment, through to performance improvement, L&D providers and departments must gain an understanding of what a full blended learning approach is and build this into their strategies for the future.

With the increasing maturity in the workforce and the growing realisation of the shortageof good quality Team Leader or Supervisor skills, there may well be a shift towards an increased requirement for training that develops middle and senior management.

Career awareness and career development is not commonly seen as a core L&D competency and responsibility in most organisations. For some practitioners, it may even seem questionable as to why this section was included in an L&D Survey. And for those who do not question its inclusion here, it tends to be something that remains at the margins of HR and L&D.

At the same time, we see the trend of HR moving ever further up the organisational value chain and playing an increasingly strategic role in the success of South Africa’s BPO sector.

In line with this trend, we believe that career awareness and career development is the ‘golden thread’ that runs through all HR practices, with L&D professionals and systems necessarily being at the heart of its delivery.

Career awareness and career development is something that most of industry’s management and policy makers agree is of high importance, both for promoting the industry to and attracting individuals in the labour market, so that they can find careers-of-choice in the sector and contributing to increased staff retention in the sector (Fig.33).

Training Most Needed

  • Knowledge of organisation-specific products and services
  • Client service delivery (telephonic)
  • Staff management in general
  • Negotiation ability
  • Client retention through interaction (telephonic)
  • Ability to spot opportunities
  • Performance management of subordinates
  • Conflict resolution
  • Analytics – the ability to analyse data
  • Emotional intelligence – ability to exert control over one’s own emotions
  • Knowledge of people and behaviour
  • Communication skills (spoken or written, and body language)
  • Leadership qualities – strategic thinking, managing change, building teams, coaching and developing
  • Performance coaching of subordinates
  • Self-management and internal focus/motivation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Time management and organisation
  • Decision-making logic
  • Team management

From the L&D Research Report, above training was identified as most needed. TULA covers all these topics and more in the Star Certification Programme

Cutting Edge Research:

OnTrac announces results of cutting edge research the area of BPO operations management.

Description:

Whether you are operating a back office setup, or a contact centre, you are probably relying on team leaders to perform several managerial tasks that directly impact operational outcome. These tasks include team briefings or huddles, coaching, monitoring, leave planning, floor support, performance reviews… and many more. Indeed, our research has shown that there is a 77% correlation between these activities, and operational outcomes such as productivity, quality, customer satisfaction and employee retention.

Methodology:

As part of a program, over 2500 supervisors from 147 companies were studied across 2 months. These supervisors were divided into batches of 15 to 20 people each, and were asked to do a set of activities that they were trained on. These activities are:

Team Briefings
Monitoring Tracker
Bottom Quartile Management
Motivation Calendar
Calibrations
People Development
Coaching plans
Performance Reviews
Coaching trackers
Recognition Tracker
Team Member Dossier Updates
Return to Work Floor Support
Skip Levels Leave Management
Succession Planning
Monitoring Plan
Trigger Events (absenteeism and attrition)

During these 2 months, the participants were also asked to focus on two metrics that they needed to improve in their respective teams. At the end of the program, data was gathered on the percentage of activities that each group of supervisors had completed, and the percentage of metrics that had shows improvement in each group.

Result:

Take a look at the graph below. The horizontal axis tracks the percentage of these activities that each group completed while the vertical axis tracks the percentage of metrics that improved in each group. These metrics included those related to productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, employee retention etc. The study showed a stunning 77% correlation, between tasks done and metrics improved. Statistical significant tests show that there is less than 1 in 100 chance that this result is a coincidence. The correlation is clearly visible in the graph where the industry trend line shows increasing percentage of metrics showing improvements as the percentage of activity implementation increases.

Further, trend lines can be drawn for specific companies. The graph shows trendlines for four different types of companies i.e. a captive BPO, an independent third party BPO, a BPO arm of a large IT company and a small domain focused BPO. In each of these companies, the trend lines are similar i.e. higher the implementation of these activities, higher is the percentage of metrics showing improvement. The varying heights and slopes of these trendlines indicate operational rigor that currently exist in these companies.

Conclusion:

In the BPO business, Supervisors or Team Leaders, are the key to maintaining operational performance. They are expected to do several activities such as team briefings or huddles, monitoring, coaching, leave planning, floor support and many others. Given that our research has shown there is a 77% correlation between these activities, and operational performance, a strong operations governance mechanism to track, monitor and review these activities will definitely result in better outcomes.