Call centers in Asia are on par with the best in the world, according to the newly released Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report 2011.
The report, the 12th edition of the annual study conducted by Dimension Data in 66 countries, highlighted the strengths of Asian contact centers as well as the areas that needed improvement to make the industry more competitive.
In Asia, 75.8 percent of calls are answered in 10 seconds compared with the global average of 65.5 percent of calls. First call resolution rate is also higher at 79.2 percent, or very close to the global best practice of 80 percent, compared to the global average of 74.9 percent.
"In Asia, because of our focus on the contact center as a business and not just as a department in an organization, contact centers are leading in some of the metrics," said Nagi Kasinadhuni, General Manager, Converged Communications and Customer Interactive Solutions, Dimension Data Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.
The report also showed that Asian contact centers are investing heavily to make sure that customer satisfaction is measured well, with 100 percent of over 500 contact center surveyed saying they have a mechanism for measuring customer satisfaction. Only 84.5 percent of contact centers elsewhere have said they have a similar mechanism. Consequently, the customer satisfaction score in Asia is at a high rate of 83.8 percent, or closer to the global best practice of 85 percent or higher.
However, while Asia leads in these key metrics, it takes a long time for them to respond to customer message left on voicemail. It takes more than a day in Asia or an average of 23.8 hours for an agent to call a customer back. The global average is only 7.2 hours.
Even staff attrition rate is lower in Asia at 21.5 percent compared with the global average of 22.4 percent. The best practice, however, is less than 10 percent.
"Staff attrition is a big issue in Asia as well as the rest of the world," Kasinadhuni said. "We believe this is also because of the general downturn in the market a year ago but contact centers are now putting in more to retain employees, better HR practice and spending more on training."
According to the report, some of the initiatives to reduce attrition include: providing a clear career development path (83.3 percent), appointment of a mentor or contact center buddy (83.3 percent), more rigorous screening of candidates at recruitment (72.2 percent), and greater emphasis on agent training and on-the-job support (66.7 percent).
Interestingly, Kasinadhuni noted that companies have put lesser emphasis on raising salaries and giving length of service bonuses and rewards to agents from leaving the industry.
While staff attendance is also lower in Asia at 84.5 percent when compared to global average of 85.1, global best practice is almost 10 percentage points away at 95 percentage point. "One reason could be is that in Asia there are more night shifts. So agents, have much more difficult work hours compared to the other parts of the world as the region tries to match its working hours with the working hours in other parts of the world," Kasinadhuni noted.
Between agent absenteeism (15.5 percent in Asia and 14.9 percent globally) and supervisor absenteeism (3.6 percent in Asia ad 5.8 percent globally), the better performance of supervisors could be attributed to the sense of empowerment of supervisors in the organization. "They see a career progression and take their roles more seriously," Kasinadhuni said.
While Asia has a lower percentage of full time permanent agents at 73.7 percent, compared to 78 percent globally, training days per agent per annum is slightly higher in Asia at 13.8 days than the rest of the world, which averages only 13.5 days.