SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

July 11, 2007 13:00 ET

The Virtual Call Center: Implementing a Distributed Agent Strategy

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - July 11, 2007) - Companies are constantly searching for innovative ways to maximize the efficiency of their call centers while at the same time reducing overall costs. In a recent survey conducted by Aberdeen, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), over a third of Best-in-Class (BIC) survey respondents (35%) have seen greater than a 10% improvement in customer satisfaction upon the implementation of a distributed agent strategy. In fact, over half of all survey respondents identify distributed agents, those who work outside the centralized call center office and connect through the internet, as an upgrade they plan to implement within the next 24 months.

The pressure of increasing call center efficiency while reducing costs was identified by a majority of survey respondents as the top reason for implementing a distributed agent strategy with 55% of BIC companies citing this as the top reason for utilizing distributed agents. The need to support a distributed workforce was identified by 45% of BIC companies as the second pressure causing them to consider implementing distributed agents. On the other hand, average companies cited supporting customers across different time zones as the number two pressure, with 28% indicating this on the survey.

BIC companies are addressing these pressures in a number of ways. They are utilizing call routing and issue routing technologies as a way of guiding customers to the appropriate support agent, as well as providing training to their distributed agents and monitoring them through online management and eLearning tools. A majority of Industry Average and BIC companies are also monitoring call quality as a way to assess the performance of their call centers, 65% and 81% respectively.

"The key components to successfully implement a distributed agent strategy are the ability to measure, monitor and manage the performance of all agents equally," says Alan Hubbard, SVP Customer Management Technologies Group at Aberdeen. "Shift scheduling, call monitoring and workforce management tools allow call center managers to achieve these objectives."

The research, underwritten by Aspect Software, CosmoCom and Transera Inc., shows readers that implementing a distributed agent strategy for call centers results in higher levels of operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. It also provides the results that BIC companies have seen across key metrics after employing distributed agents and compares these companies to the Industry Average and Laggards who have not yet pursued a similar strategy.

To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=4092

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen http://www.aberdeen.com or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to http://www.harte-hanks.com.

© 2007 Aberdeen Group, Inc., a Harte-Hanks Company
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