Customer Service:

Human Capital Management at Selected Public and Private Call Centers

GGD-00-161: Published: Aug 22, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed strategies for managing human capital management at selected public and private call centers, focusing on: (1) whether they identify human capital needs as part of developing management strategies and practices to meet missions and goals; (2) implement human capital strategies and practices; and (3) evaluating human capital strategies and practices to continuously improve their operations.

GAO noted that: (1) although the 11 organizations in GAO's study had widely varying business goals for their telephone customer service operations, they had commonalities in the ways that they employed their people to meet these goals; (2) three major themes emerged in discussions at the call centers regarding how human capital needs were identified to meet missions and business goals; (3) officials in both public and private sector organizations said that they determined human capital needs on the basis of clearly articulated service-level goals; (4) goals for the operation and management of the call centers were supported by top leadership in many of the organizations--leaders who understood the role of telephone customer service in meeting overall organizational goals and objectives and were willing to commit the resources needed to meet them; (5) managers of the organizations said that they regularly reassessed human capital needs in the context of a changing environment, including technology improvements; (6) officials in both public and private sector organizations cited leadership and competitive compensation as being most critical to implementing human capital strategies and achieving business goals; (7) therefore, these organizations strove to: (a) retain committed, dynamic call center managers who respected employees and communicated with them extensively; and (b) offer compensation packages that were at least comparable to those offered by firms competing in the same labor markets; (8) strategies for managing the discrete human capital activities of recruiting and hiring people, training them to do the work, and evaluating and improving job performance were part of a larger strategic plan for excellence at most of the organizations; (9) officials discussed processes for evaluating call center operations, including human capital management strategies, and using the results to make improvements; (10) some officials said that evaluation results were used to make improvements at every stage in the human capital management cycle; (11) individual telephone customer service representatives at some organizations were evaluated on many of the same qualitative and quantitative performance measures as the overall call centers' operations, linking the goals and performance of the organization to the work of individual employees; and (12) management information systems also generated several quantitative performance measures from which leaders and managers could select those most meaningful for evaluating call center performance.

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