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Targets for a service-level agreement in an inbound call center

Lori Bocklund advises one reader on how to set targets for a service-level agreement while transitioning a call center from outbound to inbound in this expert tip.

We are transitioning our call center from outbound to inbound. How should we calculate appropriate and accurate...

inbound service levels?

I think when you say "calculate," you mean set call center targets for a service-level agreement? I will point out three key considerations:

1. You need to set call center targets based on many factors about your business – goals, the products/services you offer and support, the call center role, budgets, staffing levels, caller tolerance for delays, competition, alternative channels, etc. The most important thing is to understand your customers, your market, your business goals, and your resources.
2. You can consider some benchmark data or best practices data, available through Prosci, Benchmark Portal and other resources. I wouldn't let this dictate the right service level for your company, but it is another data point that can help your thinking.
3. You can do some modeling using Erlang tools to show the headcounts required for the volume of contacts you anticipate and the various service levels you might consider.

This combination of resources should help you hone in on the right service level for your business.

I would suggest you order Brad Cleveland's book Call Center Management on Fast Forward, available from ICMI. A new version just came out, and it is the definitive handbook for thinking about important call center dynamics such as service levels. This book is also available at Amazon.com.

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