Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Erlang 'C' & Scheduling for Call Centres - II


Escalation Matrix -
OK, great, we've got an SLA, we have the appropriate staff in place to take the call when they make it ... now what happens if they are not able to fix the problem?  Easy!  You get the problem to the right people that can fix it in a timely manner.  This is where the escalation matrix comes into play.  Assuming that its 2am and you've got a Tier 1 customer (remember, your definition of Customers was made before this) that has no telephone service (hard down etc...).  This is impacting them and potentially costing them $$$/hr.  Your engineer has taken the call and started working on the issue.  Now as this company is paying you lots of money for the service (that IS why they are Tier 1 after all), you need to ensure that you've got ALL the right people available and working on their problem as quickly as possible.  A sample 2 Stage Internal Escalation Matrix that I've used with great success in the past is presented below.    You will need to have a separate matrix that is provided to Customers which I shall provide you with in a later post.

Provided below is a table detailing the different groups & times that they need to be notified at based on the problem & its impact.
<><><><><><>
Escalation

Level 
Groups

Notified 
Priority Low 
Priority Medium 
Priority High 
Priority Critical 
1 
Escalation1  
24 hours after ticket created 
4 hours after ticket created
2 hours after ticket created 
1 hour after ticket created 
2 
Escalation 1

Escalation 2 
48 hours after ticket created 
8 hours after ticket created 
4 hours after ticket created 
2 hours after ticket created 
3 
Escalation 1

Escalation 2 Escalation 3
72 hours after ticket created 
12 hours after ticket created 
6 hours after ticket created 
3 hours after ticket created 
4 
Escalation 1

Escalation 2

Escalation 3

Escalation 4 
96 hours after ticket created 
16 hours after ticket created 
8 hours after ticket created
4 hours after ticket created 
5 
Escalation 1

Escalation 2

Escalation 3

Escalation 4

Escalation 5 
120 hours after ticket created, and every 24 hours after that  
20 hours after ticket created and every 4 hours after that 
10 hours after ticket created and every 2 hours after that
5 hours after ticket created and every hour after that 


Please note – its fairly easy to remove the additional Escalation Group step mentioned below, if your escalation is to only one group! This type of structure only applies to larger companies where the problem and responsible party could be in a variety of different locations.

ESCALATION GROUPS
 

<><><><><><>
Level 
Support
Sales
Operations 
PMO
Product MGMT
Engineering
1 
Support Lead/Supervisor


Ops/NOC Lead/Supervisor
Defect Control




2 
Support MGR
Sales Rep
Ops/NOC MGR




Engineering Rep
3 
Support Director
Sales MGR
Ops Director


Product MGR


4 


Sales Director
VP Ops




Director Engineering
5 
VP Customer Service & Marketing






VP Engineering

Saturday, December 15, 2007

SLA & Tiered Service Levels

SLA - this is a difficult one.  You obviously want to offer all of your customers the premier, best in the world, platinum level of service, but unfortunately that does not always make financial sense.  Customers need to be tiered dependent on the amount of money they pay you (see my post on the 80/20/30 rule) and incidents/problems need to be tiered dependent on the impact to their business.  

It makes for an interesting measurement or matrix but a basic one that will need to be customized for your business is provided below.


Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 3
Priority 170% + Service Impact or

Total Loss of Service

5min Response

4hr Resolution
70% + Service Impact or

Total Loss of Service

30min Response

8hr Resolution
70% + Service Impact or

Total Loss of Service

1hr Response

24hr Resolution
Priority 250% - 70% Service Impact

15min Response

8hr Resolution
50% - 70% Service Impact

1hr Response

24hr Resolution
50% - 70% Service Impact

4hr Response

72hr Resolution
Priority 3Up to 50% Service Impact

30min Response

12hr Resolution
Up to 50% Service Impact

4hr Response

72hr Resolution
Up to 50% Service Impact

24hr Response

96hr Resolution

Please note the difference here between 'Response' time and 'Resolve' time!!  Make sure that you use this to your effect as problems cannot generally be resolved immediately on 1st contact ... work to analyse the problem takes time.  Don't kid yourself otherwise!

As you can see from the table/matrix mentioned above (hope its not too confusing?) reading from Top Left -> Bottom Right your SLA follows a specified path.  Dependent on the Tier of your customer and the impact to their business a specified service level is offered to them.

A key point to make is that the SLA needs to be something that is achievable - having a customer facing SLA that is more stringent than your own internal OLA (the service level offered by your own internal departments) is doomed to failure and unfortunately some fairly large financial repercussions!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Erlang 'C' & Scheduling for Call Centres

Erlang 'C' is a nobel winning formula used in the Call Centre and Operations industries to determine the correct and appropriate level of staffing based on key call metrics.  The scary looking formula for this is below and the even scarier explanation from Wikipedia is here.


From a Call Centre and Staffing Point of view the primary elements considered are as follows:
  • Average Talk Time
  • Calls/per specified period (15min is a good benchmark)
  • Specified Service Metrics or SLA (ie. 80/20 <- 80% of calls answered in 20s or less etc...) ... correspondingly, you want to consider your abandon %'age here also.  Are you willing to accept that some of your customers will hang up?  If so, how many & consider what impact that will have on your business in the long run!
With this information in hand and using the formula, you are able to determine how many resources you need in a given period to meet your customer demand.  Using some free online tools (links provided below), you are also able to determine your required resources based on a specified timetable and rotation.  For example if the formula states you need 8 resources between 8am-9am and you are running a 24/7 call centre the actual number of staff you need to employee is 'X'.

Some Good Free Erlang 'C' Calculators -
Holiday/Vacation/Sickness - with this in mind, you still need to plan for excess capacity relevant to staff absenteeism either planned or unplanned.  So although the formula only called for 8 staff & your overage based on a 24/7 call centre is 'X' ... you should actually plan to have 'Y' resources available to cover these gaps!!

Cancellation - the final step in a long and drawn out process

Dealing with customers that want to cancel is hard. I know - I'm personally in the midst of trying to cancel my Television/Internet serv...