web hit counter www.elmayorportaldegerencia.com - Certificando las operaciones de su call center (Inglés)
Welcome to www.elmayorportaldegerencia.com   Click to listen highlighted text! Welcome to www.elmayorportaldegerencia.com Powered By GSpeech

If call center staffing certification, which we covered last month, is akin to teaching, testing and awarding diplomas, then call center operations certification is more like accrediting the school that taught the pupils.

Operations certification programs examine if and how well your business function is performing against a set of standards drawn from best practices in the industry.

With operations certification you must not only know what you are doing but you also must document how you do it, rightly or wrongly. You self assess your methods and processes to see if they meet the standards. The certifying firm then audits your processes and operations.

Think of these certifications like owning a car or truck. Not only must you be trained and licensed but your vehicle must also pass inspection to ensure that you travel safely and efficiently without posing a danger to others.

As with staffing certification and drivers' licensing, a company having an operations certification is no guarantee that it will perform well. However, if the standards and the certifying bodies are valid and credible, then there is a much stronger likelihood that the certified firms will function better than expected against those that lack certification.

What Call Center Certification Covers

Call center operations certification examines a call center's service quality and performance, and measures, audits and grades it against standards based on industry benchmarks. If you have multiple centers, each individual call center is usually evaluated separately.

Depending on the program, certification covers quality management program setup, documentation, measurement and maintenance. They check a firm's accuracy in call and contact handling, customer and employee satisfaction, problem resolution and correction, and agent staffing and training. Some certifications require that you identify, provide and manage a quality workplace.

The certification programs may also evaluate performance measurements such as average speed of answer, service level agreements, the center's ability to hit performance targets and how the call center's technology performs.

The standards that call centers certify are usually but do not have to be open. They may have standards committees comprised of leading firms that review and update the standards, usually annually.

To become certified there are several options depending on the standard and the program. Applicants must document and self-assess their processes and an auditor accredited by an outside firm checks to see if your call center meets the standard by examining and grading your assessment and your operations.

If you do not comply, the certifying body's auditors point out where. If your call center is far out of compliance with the standard, the auditors will reject your application; if the difference between your practices and the standard are slight they may pass it but ask you to make corrections. Several certification programs offer or recommend consultants who will advise how to fix those problems.

A certification is only as good as the firms certified to it. To ensure that your call center complies with the standards, the top quality certifying bodies will periodically review and reaudit it. They may also receive and follow up on complaints by customers and employees alleging that you are violating the standards. In the most extreme cases the certifying body pulls the certification.

Call Center Operations Certifications

There are several firms and organizations that certify call center operations to particular sets of standards. Some of the certification and standards are specifically for general call centers; others are tailored for technical external and internal support desks.

International Standard Organization (ISO) 9001

The ISO 9001 is a part of the ISO-9000 series of quality standards. The ISO 9001 standard covers quality system establishment, documentation, management, infrastructure, monitoring and measurement. This includes quality staffing and work environments. Applicants must also identify, meet and improve customer satisfaction. They must have process controls for product and service design, development, purchasing, operations and identifying and correcting problems.

The ISO 9001 is an international standard. The ISO organization, formed in 1947, is responsible for a wide range of standards. It amended ISO 9001 in 2000. Companies on the previous version, ISO 9001:1994, must recertify to the current ISO 9001:2000.

To become ISO-certified, you have to demonstrate to auditors from an accredited registrar that you have defined and implemented an effective management system. In the US there are several accreditation organizations, such as the Registrar Accreditation Board (Milwaukee, WI).

The auditing firm will check and grade your assessments. If the registrar finds a major nonconformity with the standard, such as a problem that could lead to a product recall, then it will not recommend certification at that time. If the registrar finds minor or no standards nonconformities then it may recommend certification.


The COPC-2000 standard and program is administered by the Customer Operations Performance Center (COPC; Austin, TX). The certification applies to general call centers and technical support desks.

The COPC is made up of top call centers and companies that outsource customer service, order taking and help desk services. It audits applicant in-house and service bureau call centers and fulfillment houses to see if they meet the COPC-2000 standard. The standard, based on the US Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and adapted to accommodate industry needs, covers 29 separate items.

The certification procedure examines the specific service that the call center provides and all the processes that go into it, such as voice, e-mail, fax, US mail handling, agent training, credit card processing and new program setup. Each call center must be separately certified.

To achieve COPC-2000 certification, applicants select certain employees who are trained by COPC professionals to become registered COPC-2000 coordinators. The coordinators work with the company that will be conducting the certification audit. A COPC-2000 audit typically involves two or three auditors spending three to five days on-site. The procedure takes about nine to 12 months.

Applicants receive one of four grades: Certified (complies with all standards); Conditionally Certified (compliant on 27 of 29 and has minor deficiencies on the remaining two); Certification Candidate (passes 22 items and the applicant agrees to become fully certified on the remaining items within 12 months); and No Certification.

COPC conducts a six-month review and annual recertification. The certifiers also listen and respond to complaints. They may either take the issues up at the next review or if serious enough, contact them in between the audits.

COPC also offers consulting and training services but you are not under obligation to use the services as part of your COPC-2000 certification.

You can also benchmark your call center against the COPC-2000 standard by auditing your center with the understanding that you do not comply with it.

Certified Support Center (CSC)

The Certified Support Center certification, from the Help Desk Institute (HDI; Colorado Springs, CO), looks at eight core areas: leadership, policy and strategy, people management, resources, processes, people satisfaction, customer satisfaction and performance results. The CSC is for external and internal support desks.

Independent auditors grade help desks HDI-certified based on 60 standards, each with four performance levels covering the eight core areas. For each standard, the HDI has a series of questions to evaluate the level of a site's conformity to the standards.

An open industry standards committee developed CSC to create an industry-wide and international blueprint for help desks. The standards are based on existing quality and performance certification methods such as the European Foundation for Quality Management, The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and ISO 9000.

To prepare your help desk for the audit, the HDI has an on-line self-evaluation survey on its Web site, www.helpdeskinst.com. Available to HDI members only, the CSC Self Evaluation is an interactive questionnaire that provides valuable audit information and insight into your center's readiness for certification.

Once complete, the program will also generate a report that shows how your organization compares to standards.

HDI also provides Compare, an industry benchmarking tool. Compare offers Web access and self-defined reporting options.

Certified Operation for Resolution Excellence (CORE) 2000

The CORE 2000, from Help Desk 2000 (Atlanta, GA), is also for external and internal support desks. One of its external desk certifyees, Northwest Farm Credit Services, supports its customers' enabling hardware and software.

CORE 2000's certification focuses on call center structure, strategy, methodologies, systems and technology, perception and performance, staffing and training, measurement, reporting and innovation.

The CORE 2000 certification tests to standards derived from industry best practices and methodologies. Help Desk 2000 validated the practices and standards with its 25-member World Leadership Team, which consists of support industry leaders, practitioners and consultants.

When you begin the certification process, CORE 2000 experts meet with senior managers to review requirements. They then evaluate your methodologies and practices. You are awarded certification if you meet the standard; if your call center is deficient in any way, CORE 2000's experts show you where you need to make changes.

Support Center Practices (SCP)

The SCP, sponsored by the Software Support Professionals Association (SSPA; San Diego, CA), is for external support desks but you may also use this standard if you have an internal help desk.

The SCP evaluates call centers on 11 major criteria, which include customer relationship management, customer feedback, corporate commitment and strategic direction.

The SCP also covers people programs such as recruiting, screening, career path opportunities, job descriptions, employee feedback, stress management and agent training. It looks at your performance metrics, including trouble-ticket handling. It examines how you use and integrate automation tools such as IVR systems and ACDs. It also looks at how your center handles e-mail and Web self-service.

The SCP examines quality management, such as how your support desk interfaces with your engineering department to identify and fix major product/service problems, and with your sales departments using contact management methods so that the call center sales agents and field sales reps know when customers are experiencing problems. It also examines how your support desk recognizes, assesses and escalates sales leads.

Call centers must self-certify each call center and self-assess against the SCP standards. The SCP uses open standards; Service Strategies Corporation (SSC; San Diego, CA) administers the SCP program. The SSC and 35 companies representing the SSPA's core membership, created the program.

Applicants must follow detailed steps that outline each area to be documented and measures results against industry averages and benchmarks. Such assessments take between 30 and 90 days.

Next, SCP audits your call center on-site. Auditors provide you with feedback from each of the 11 program criteria. SCP provides an audit report that includes final scores and feedback on all elements that didn't comply, reasons why and what improvements need to be made to achieve compliance. In addition, when a company passes it receives a benchmark report that provides a detailed comparison of its center's individual scores against all other certified centers.

Call centers receive pass or fail grades; auditors determine if your center needs improvement. If your center fails the first time around, you're allowed up to 60 days to correct any deficiencies. Your center will also undergo recertification on the anniversary date of your original certification.

The Case For Call Center Certification

Why should you have your call center certified? The most important benefit operations certification offers, according to experts, is the ability to improve processes and productivity. By having experts take an objective outside look at your operations and methods to identify gaps and weaknesses, you will know where to make changes.

Kathryn Jackson, an associate with Response Design Corporation (RDC; Ocean City, NJ) believes more call centers, both in-house and service bureaus, will adopt certification because its criteria is a roadmap to higher quality and lower costs.

"Certification holds a call center's management accountable to accepted standards, both to senior management and to customers," says Jackson. "If a call center is certified then it knows where its strengths are and exactly where to invest next to deliver even greater efficiency and quality service."

Alton Martin, COPC's CEO, says that certification to open standards provide an easier, more valuable and valid measurements than private or closed standards. COPC-2000, as with other leading operations certifications, uses open standards."All too often call centers provide unconfirmed figures," says Martin. "When senior management asks them how they obtained the data, they would reply 'we did this benchmark study.' However, the data isn't meaningful because it's not based on the numbers attained but on the numbers set out as goals."

Jackson cautions not to expect too much from operations certification. She points out that certifications are not prescriptive by nature.

"The certification report will document strengths and gaps but the certifying body will not necessarily prescribe the solution to close the gaps," she says.

A key benefit of certification that Jackson identifies is the ability to improve staff morale, which indirectly helps to attract and retain employees. Agents and supervisory staff can take pride that they work for a top-notch company, with the certification as a badge of honor.

She suggests that if you combine certifying your call center operations with certifying your agents and supervisors, you may experience significant productivity-raising synergies.

"Call center operations certification and staff certification enhance or increase the effect of each other," says Jackson. "Both are good alone, but together - watch out! When certified staff are added to a certified call center the effects are exponential. High productivity, quality and continual improvement are certainly guaranteed."

Call center operations certification is a valid and effective screening tool when selecting service bureaus; the need for it led to the creation of the COPC-2000 standard in 1996. Staffing agency Kelly Services (Troy, MI) has made its processes compatible with COPC certification. The firm is targeting COPC-2000 certified bureaus as clients.

Teresa Setting, vice president of marketing for Kelly Services, points out that such bureaus have taken the effort to demonstrate their quality practices to meet the COPC requirements.

"COPC-2000 certified bureaus should certainly get strong consideration, but there are other factors like cost that go into the decision making process," says Setting. "We ask all vendors to demonstrate their quality standards. Regardless of certification, companies always have to prove their quality. There is no substitute for thoroughly checking them out."

Infotel (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), founded in 1995, is a service bureau serving the US and Puerto Rico. In January 2001, Infotel became the first Latin American call center to receive COPC-2000 certification after nearly two years of working with COPC. The outsourcer improved process and service quality including the setting up of client customer satisfaction programs, guaranteeing process control and establishing a disaster recovery program.

Companies have also benefited from the benchmarking that certifications offer by fine-tuning corporate strategies to answer the competition. Lawson Software, which makes business software, announced in December 2000 that it had been recertified to the SCP for the third consecutive year.

The firm's global support center reported in October 2000 that it had customer satisfaction ratings of 98% for professionalism, 93% for responsiveness and technical expertise, 89% for product quality, 85% for problem resolution and 90% for overall satisfaction.

"The SCP audit process allows us to evaluate our current support processes and compare them to other organizations in our industry," says Cole Orndorff, Lawson Software's vice president, Global Support Center. "The audit helps us create a vision for the future and provides us with clarity on the initiatives we need to complete in order to better serve our customers."

Minacs Worldwide (Markham, ON, Canada) became the first North American service bureau to achieve ISO 9001 certification, in October 1996. Since then the company has realized productivity and competitive benefits from its ISO 9001 certification, reports Elaine Minacs, president and CEO. The service bureau streamlined its call handling processes, which has led to direct cost savings for both Minacs and its clients.

"Although we do business globally, we have found that Canada, the United States, and Europe have a stronger commitment to ISO at this time," says Minacs. "Most of our proposals have questions that are ISO-related and as a result we feel having this certification is definitely a competitive advantage."

Whether your call center and your company will benefit from operations certification depends on both the certifying organization and on your company. Brad Cleveland, president of the Incoming Calls Management Institute (ICMI; Annapolis, MD), says certification success relies on the certification program quality, your commitment to meeting requirements, making genuine improvements and your primary objectives for going through the process.

"Certification can be very positive if it provides an appropriate framework for improving processes and services and enables the call center to identify performance gaps and make significant improvements; there may also be marketing value to having a program's stamp of approval," explains Cleveland. "On the flip side, if your company does not have clear objectives, does not commit the required resources, or if the certification program provides an insufficient context for improvements, certification can result in a waste of time and money."

Call Center Certification Caveats

As with call center staffing certification, there are some caveats with call center operations certification. There is not yet industry-wide consensus on one particular set of standards, especially for support desks.

ISO 9001 and the COPC-2000 are the two most widespread consensus standards for general call centers. Both standards are applicable worldwide and have certifiers that are available, or soon will be, in major global call center hubs.

The ISO 9001 standard is generic to companies that make products and services. However, it includes important customer service requirements such as identifying and meeting customer needs and enhancing customer satisfaction. To meet the standard, companies must hire quality staff and provide quality workplaces. There is some debate over whether call centers need ISO 9001 or call center-specific certifications such as the COPC-2000, or both. COPC's Martin does not see the COPC-2000 standard competing with ISO 9001. Many firms may wish to have both certifications if top management supports that decision.

"The ISO 9001 standard is very process driven, with a heavy emphasis on documentation," explains Martin. "It was designed for and is more suited to manufacturing quality than for services quality. Our standard and certification has been expressly designed for call centers and fulfillment operations. I worked for a service bureau that obtained ISO 9001 certification. Their auditors reviewed the documents but they did not interview the agents and supervisors. COPC does both."

On the other hand, Terry Unsworth, vice president of consulting services for Excel Partnership (Sandy Hook, CT), an ISO 9000 consulting and training firm with call center experience, says that ISO 9001 has with ISO 9001:2000 become more of a performance standard that can be applicable to call centers.

ICMI's Cleveland points out that while ISO 9001 is more widely known, COPC-2000 is more specific to call centers. Certifying to either standard can be a valuable process if the call center organization is willing to commit the time and resources required.

"The certification the organization chooses to pursue should be driven by its values and objectives, whether there are specific requirements in the industries or regions in which the firm operates, and the time, cost and benefits anticipated," he says.

There is much more competition between the support desk certifiers and standards. There is some debate whether or not external support desks need their own separate certifications. From the outset the COPC-2000 standard has covered support desk certification.

SSC president John Hamilton says that there are some key differences between support desk and general call center certifications. He says that specialized certifications like the SCP delve much more deeply into problem management and problem resolution handling than general call center certifications like COPC-2000. For example, the program looks at whether the same data on a company's self-service FAQ is readily available to the support desk agents.

"Unfortunately, this is an all too common problem when companies don't synchronize the link between the two data sources, consequently customers may not get the most up-to-date and accurate information that could provide the answers they're looking for," says Hamilton. "The auditors also examine whether companies measure the efficiency of their electronic service delivery programs." The SCP program looks at first-call resolution rates and seeks and mandates that companies get feedback from customers by using surveys for continued improvement. This includes an event survey process to gather rapid feedback and provide results back to the individual support agents.

"Our certification complements the ISO 9000 series rather than any outsourcer call center certification like COPC-2000," says Hamilton. "The ISO program enables companies to meet their customers' broad enterprise-wide quality requirements while ours meets the specific quality and performance needs of support desks. We also require extensive documentation for our standard as does the ISO."

COPC's Martin disagrees. "From our experience we don't see anything unique about support desks compared with nontechnical customer service," he says. "These support certifications may have more value to internal help desks but these call centers are so cost driven that I find it difficult to imagine that senior management will give them much money to improve their quality."

Cleveland's view is similar to Martin's. Cleveland says that while the technologies used and supported vary considerably, the best managed support desks utilize principles proven in other call center environments. These include establishing service level objectives, forecasting the workload accurately, understanding queuing theory, scheduling around workload requirements and managing call centers according to real time requirements.

"Should help desk certifications be much different than certifications for other customer contact environments?" asks Cleveland. "Beyond unique systems and user requirements, absolutely not."

How do you sort these certification programs out? Response Design's Jackson advises that you look for a neutral third-party certification, a certification process that includes validation of data (not just simply a review of the data self-reported by the agent or center), a list of industry experts and the qualifications of the people who developed the criteria.

You should also seek good credentials of the certifying body for knowing how to develop valid assessments and find out the explicit objectives for certification and recertification requirements.

One consultant, Chad Burbage, president of BC-Group International (Dallas, TX), questions the validity of obtaining certifications from organizations that offer consulting services, thus creating the appearance of self interest in finding a need to improve in your call centers.

"A proper certifying body should inspect your call center's process, see if you comply but if and where you don't it should be up to you to fix the problems," Burbage points out. "It is your opportunity, after all. If you need assistance to achieve the fix, the onus is on you to find the right consultant, trainer or vendor and you should not be pressured by the certifying organization to use their services."

When you review the certification organizations and standards you wish to certify to, make sure that there is an auditing and reauditing process, and that the standards and auditing cover all relevant aspects of your call center's business. Otherwise, you might get a standard and certification that might be easy to obtain but does not help you continually improve because it is too narrow in scope.

When Response Design audits call centers, it looks at the hard data that, on the surface, often makes the center look great. The service level is within normal variation, the productivity is good, the quality is good and the organization structure is in line with best practice. However, when the firm goes on-site to observe the processes and interview the people, it tests the methods used to achieve the results.

"For example, call centers can achieve a great service level though horrible means, such as using a lot of overtime or canceling training," Jackson points out. "Or, call centers can get myopic and forget that they are part of a team. They can document a customer's request and when they hand it off to another department they wash their hands of any further responsibility to the customer. The certifying body has to keep a balanced view of the customer's experience and the needs of the company as standards are designed and implemented."

Call Center Certification Checklist

The Incoming Calls Management Institute offers this questionnaire when evaluating call center operations certification:

  • What are your objectives? (e.g., to create more consistent performance, reduce costs, become a service leader or gain a marketing advantage?)
  • Who developed the certification program and why?
  • Who is part of the certification program's governing body?
  • What are the standards and where did they come from?
  • Is the certification program known or required by others in your industry?
  • Which other organizations have already completed the process?
  • What costs have they incurred? What benefits have they realized?
  • Who will be involved from the certifying organization?
  • Is the program a good match with your objectives?
  • Is the organization prepared to invest the necessary time and resources?
  • Do the anticipated benefits justify the time, effort and costs?
  • Is your organization truly committed to the process?

By Brendan B. Read, CallCenter

May 7, 2001 (10:37 AM)
URL: http://www.callcentermagazine.com/article/CCM20010411S0003/1

El retorno de la inversión en entrenamiento ejecutivo de equipos gerenciales es exponencial y en minutos. Norman Vincent Peale.
Te gustó? Compártelo !
Pin It

Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account

Click to listen highlighted text! Powered By GSpeech