Tele-BankCo is a financial services typical call centre based in a central Scotland

Case study: Tele-BankCo is a financial services typical call centre based in a central Scotland, handling mostly low-end queries and transitions, and using automatic call distribution (ACD) software.

Tele-BankCo is a financial services typical call centre based in a central Scotland

Case study: Tele-BankCo is a financial services typical call centre based in a central Scotland, handling mostly low-end queries and transitions, and using automatic call distribution (ACD) software.

It is a surveillance-intensive environment:
The ACD allows you to have any size team you like and on the screens you can actually see right down to the person on the phone, you can see it in teams, in management groups, so on. You can produce macros every day of the different levels of management, either down at rep level to site level. So you can if you want to, compare the performance of teams across the sites, site against site or individual against individual. (Manager)

Like many call centres, it suffers from high turnover and a degree of burnout. Some managers seem to welcome this, one commenting that:

To me attrition is very healthy in a call centre, very costly, but very healthy because of the stressful nature of the job and because you want these people to keep constant energy and enthusiasm, it does the organisation some good if you can pump in some fresh blood. (Manager)

However, this was not the dominant view of how management should handle the tensions between quantity and quality in a low discretion- high commitment environment. There was a strong focus on standard HR tolls of recruitment, selection and training as a partial ‘solution.’ Matching the job to the people was seen primarily in terms of recruiting particular types of people- those with bubbly personality, or as one manger put it:

The vast majority of these people in customer services centres, we are talking 99%, are not bankers, they have been recruited for their personalities and communication skills.

The perceived centrality of social skills and competencies has led management at Tele-BankCo to use rigorous selection and training procedures more usually associated with high discretion jobs. As part of the recruitment process Tele-BankCo utilises telephone interviews, role plays and two person structured interviews.

Less than 10% of those who apply are select ed for a place on the six-week full time training programme. Though there is some emphasis on technical skills such as navigating screens and product knowledge, the vast amount of time is spent on social competencies.

At the heart of this is a conversation cycle to teach customer service representatives (CSRs) how to build rapport with people. Not only does this include managing a conversation but ‘managing yourself.’

Essentially, employees are taught rudimentary techniques associated with emotional labour-scripted interactions (via ‘cookery cards), voice and tone control and elicitation of responses from customers. This is backed up by a set of 19 core standards of behaviour, such as ‘maintaining appropriate standards of behaviour, dress and appearance’; ‘pleasant and enthusiastic with customers’ and ‘welcoming feedback and apologising when mistakes have been made.’

Not only are these core standards continually present throughout training (with each of the 19 printed on laminated cards and pasted to the walls and doors of the training room) they are often used in evaluating performance. Despite allocating considerable time and resources on training and building employee skills the complaints from the customers are mounting. Tele-BankCo is receiving negative customer reviews on the call centre services.

Some reviews said the wait time is long, some said the CSR’s do not seem to be enthusiastic in answering the queries, some said the calls are often forwarded to other departments and they do not receive satisfactory response.

Tele-BankCo management is concerned of losing the market to its biggest competitor BitCo financial services.

Interview with CSRs revealed major discrepancies with how management saw the role. CSRs were much more likely to associate job requirements with surviving stressful and repetitive work, rather than applying a particular set of personalities characteristics to the enthusiastic pursuit of customers service:

I can see it [building rapport] is important, but most customers just want to come on and get their query dealt with, they don’t really care whether you’re they’re best friend with them at the end of the call. (CSR)
They also consistently raced surveillance through statistics as an obstacle to high-quality customer service:

What they don’t tell you when you come to the interview is the emphasis they put on stats. They are very statistics oriented- how long your average call is, your wrap time… the emphasis in the call centre and other call centres is on the number of calls, the quality of the calls, yes, but not this rapport thing. (CSR)

This led to some CSRs either considering quitting, ‘closing down,’ or going ‘off script’:

They [CSRs] are all different personalities, but they are trying to mould them into a Tell-BankCo. Like robots, and they are always pushing, pushing and if they keep pushing, I’ll be out of the door soon. I think they need to build innovation into the corporate culture. My way of handling it is coming in and saying to myself, ‘I do my shift from 2 to 10, it is not a career; it’s a job.

I answer the phone and that’s it.’ By not looking for anything more than that, that’s my way of handling it. When I first came in, I thought it was maybe just me, but speaking to other people it’s the same. We get a lot of people who are on their own, they’re pensioners. They ask for a balance, and then they will want a chat – ‘what’s the weather like?’ I’m quite happy to chat to them, but it’s always in the back of your mind, got to watch my average handling time.  I think you are setting a better example for the bank. (CSR)

1…Problem Summary
State the problem at Tele-BankCo and identify four (4) symptoms of the problem.( 10 marks)

2. Arguments
a.            Explore the attrition argument presented by the manager in the case. Is it a weak or credible argument? Give reasons for your answer.( 10 marks)

b.Explore the case for any deductive and/or Inductive reasoning fallacies and clearly state the “type” of fallacy involved and how it could have been avoided.(10 marks)

3. Evaluate the causes of the problem
Use Fishbone analysis and analyse the possible causes of the problem.(10 marks)

4. Develop alternative solutions to the problem

a.            Identify and evaluate any three (3) Divergent thinking tools, stating the relative advantages and disadvantages of each.(9 marks)

b.            Use any one divergent thinking tool you identified above to generate three (3) alternative solutions to the problem identified. (9 marks)

5. Evaluate and apply the problem solving and analytical decision-making tool
a.            Identify and evaluate any three (3) Convergent thinking tools, stating the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. (9 marks)

b.            Use any one Convergent thinking tool you identified above to evaluate the three alternative solutions identified in task 4 above. (9 marks)

c.             Recommend the best solution and justify your recommendation. (6marks)

6. Investigate the factors surrounding the implementation of your decision.
Use Force field analysis to identify and explain five (5) internal and five (5) external factors that might impact the implementation of the chosen solution. (12 marks)

7. Overall presentation:
a.            English presentation and numbering guidelines followed
b.            Referencing, APA format followed, and all references have been properly cited.

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