‘Just Right’ Staffing for Your Call Center

May 2018: Vol 41 No 5
Rob Pesick
4 times outsourcing can protect and optimize member service

Sponsored by PSCU

Baby Bear discovers Goldilocks sleeping in the “just right” bedCredit union call centers are always looking for ways to deliver the best possible member service, but who would have thought the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” would hold the key to helping them achieve that goal? 

That is right: The Goldilocks Principle—named for Goldie’s visit the bears’ house in search of the “just right” temperature for her breakfast porridge, the perfect-sized chair and the ideal bed for a comfy nap—has become a shorthand way of describing the optimal conditions needed for success. 

'Just Right' Call Center Service 

Our call center experts at PSCU decided to investigate ways to use the Goldilocks Principle to help your credit union find the sweet spot between its mission to provide member-friendly service and its mandate to control costs and maximize ROI. We identified four areas of call center operations where “just right” service levels are highly desirable but often hard to achieve. 

1. Managing overflow call volume: There are times when your call center’s volume simply exceeds your staffing capacity, but those times are more predictable than you might expect. For example, our studies show that Monday and Friday call volumes typically run 22 to 24 percent higher than mid-week. 

Even predictable peaks and valleys make it challenging to keep your abandon rates and speed-to-answer metrics on track, and there is a real financial downside to providing bad or inconsistent service. Consider this sobering statistic from Nuance Communications’ Millennialization of Customer Service report: “67 percent of consumers say they have cancelled or ended a company relationship because of a bad customer experience—one-third have done it more than once.”

Now consider that 25 percent or more of your credit union’s members use your call center each month. Your best members, those with 760 FICO scores and above, will not wait patiently because they can head straight to your competition instead. And depending on your call center’s volume, losing even 1 percent of your members to attrition can cost your credit union more than $1 million per year. 

2. Staffing for extended service hours: Extending night, weekend or even holiday call center hours past the typical 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. timeframe can sound like a terrific member service innovation—or a competitive necessity—on paper, but longer hours can be surprisingly tricky to staff. That is because our statistics show that early morning call volumes normally run 50 percent higher than call volumes in the early evening. 

Changing even a few agents’ shifts to start later can leave morning peaks understaffed and evening employees with unproductive time on their hands. What is more, long or uncertain shift scheduling can be a major source of agent dissatisfaction and attrition, especially if your call center is located in a small market or a city with a large number of call centers. Turnover is a costly problem that can run as high as $8,000 per new hire. 

3. Scheduling staff meeting and training time: Removing the distraction of ringing phones not only allows for unified department meetings and uninterrupted training sessions, but also sends an important message to your workforce about your concern for their morale. 

With today’s emphasis on reducing call center fraud and creating ROI-driven initiatives to reimagine call centers as loan origination, onboarding and cross-selling profit centers, highly trained agents with specialized knowledge and skills are not only a plus, they are also an investment worthy of careful nurturing. 

4. Disaster recovery and special circumstances: The hurricanes, floods and fires of recent years have shown call centers firsthand how random and cruel Mother Nature can be. But there are many happier reasons that cause call center disruptions as well. Perhaps your credit union has recently increased its membership through a merger or is experiencing a major uptick in demand from a successful new marketing campaign. Or you could be planning for unusually high call volumes following a platform conversion. 

When unforeseen events threaten your credit union’s business continuity, or your members are stranded in their time of need, all eyes turn to your call center to send the message that calm and stability are being restored as soon as possible. 

Is Outsourcing Your Answer? 

There is no question that providing “just right” service will set your credit union’s call center apart, but trying to coordinate all the moving parts in-house can be an expensive and daunting task. 

Exploring a turnkey, outsourced solution such as PSCU’s Total Member Care can be a great alternative to in-house management. Outsourcing call center services is a flexible way to smooth out the everyday bottlenecks—as well as to create contingency plans to deal with natural disasters and other special circumstances—and will go a long way toward helping your credit union provide the personalized service your members deserve.

PSCU LogoThe security of knowing there is a 24/7/365 resource lined up and ready to step in at a moment’s notice to provide highly trained, totally seamless coverage will give your credit union and its members a better night’s sleep than Goldilocks could have ever dreamed. 

Rob Pesick is a sales solutions consultant at CUES Supplier member PSCU