Can Your Call Center Resolve Challenging Calls With Simple Solutions?

"Public" and "private" may be polar opposites to those in the business community, but from a call center perspective, the difference is not always so severe.

Government contact centers, like corporate call centers, are most notably committed to a simple task—delivering the best experience for those who call seeking service.

Like many of its corporate counterparts, the City of Hampton 311 call center deals with common call center benchmarks.

"One of the things that is really important to our citizens is the experience of long wait times," confirms Lori Thomas, Hampton 311’s team leader, in an exclusive podcast with "We manage average handle time, unavailable times…as well as call volumes."

Like many of its corporate counterparts, the Hampton 311 call center also faces a "do more with less" challenge, having to consistently meet or exceed its benchmarks within a crunched-staff.

"We are experiencing staffing issues, so it is very important that people are at work at their scheduled time and in their places when necessary," notes Thomas, a presenter at the Government Contact Center Summit 2011.

Where the Hampton center diverges from many corporate centers, however, is on the matter of complexity.

When answering calls for a government, agents are asked to sift through a comprehensive pool of calls containing challenges that require different routing to different departments with very different chains of command and resolution policies.

And insofar as handle time matters—Hampton 311 strives to stay below 2 minutes—the room for error or uncertainty is minimal.

As Thomas confirms, success, to put it lightly, comes down to, "The advocate’s ability to recognize when there are a lot of complex issues in one customer’s simple request."

But even if the agent can recognize the issues, will he always know how to route them? ("One of the things we’ve noticed is sometimes there’s a very fine line between services that are offered and which department is supposed to have those services") Will he know what tone and urgency to take with the various different resident callers?

In this exclusive podcast, Lori Thomas details the various processes and strategies by which agents are conditioned to successfully answer and resolve complicated resident calls. One pivotal tenet is a proper data and workflow management system.

"One of the things that they should really look at is the information and the workflow of information so that the advocate [is able to] obtain what they need to handle the customer’s request," explains Thomas. "Constantly looking at the relevancy of the information forces you to have constant contact with the departments…one of the things we’ve noticed is sometimes there’s a very fine line between services that are offered and which department is supposed to have those services."

What else is needed? What kind of training does Lori Thomas impart on her agents? Get the details now!

And if you agree (or disagree) with Thomas’ insight and want to continue the discussion with other standout government contact center leaders, check out the Government Contact Center Summit 2011!