Call centers get high marks

AMS page on call center study

Despite differences among levels of government, public-sector call centers

rate well when compared with private-sector centers and actually exceed

them on several key quality-of-service marks, according to a recent survey

conducted by Purdue University.

Public-sector centers score 10 percent higher than business-to-business

and 30 percent higher than business-to-consumer centers against measurements

of caller satisfaction, the study shows.

"Up until this study, there's been very little data at the government

level to measure just how well call centers were doing," said Jeff Ackerson,

senior principal and customer relationship management expert at American

Management Systems Inc.'s Center for Advanced Technology. "The surprising

conclusion is that there are so many similarities between the government

and private-sector centers."

AMS was the sole sponsor of the study and worked with Purdue to analyze

the results. The study contains data points for about 100 government institutions.

The study shows, however, that there are major differences among federal,

state and local government centers. While federal and state call center

service levels are neck and neck with business-to-business and business-to-consumer

centers, local municipalities' centers do poorly. On the other hand, those

local centers handle the highest number of calls per agent per shift with

an average of 63 calls per eight-hour shift.

Federal call centers have more than twice the average talk time of state

and local centers and also have the lowest after-call work time, some 35

percent lower than state call centers. And, by far, state call centers have

the highest cost per call, more than one-third higher than that for federal

centers.

As government shifts from having just telephone call centers to an online,

e-government focus, AMS hopes to define the kinds of measurements highlighted

in the study "in a true business sense," Ackerson said, and then use them

to develop a program of continuous improvement for government centers.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached

at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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