Call centre grabs seat on the Benchmark

In a move that could add expertise to its call centre offerings, Telus Corp. recently announced a partnership with BenchmarkPortal, a call centre performance measurement company.

According to Telus, while call centres historically send out requests for proposals (RFPs) when new gear or services are required, it is this telco’s goal to work with customers long before the RFP process, and help them establish exactly what is needed.

“We are very much trying to get engaged with the customer with some meaningful methodology that allows us to participate with them in the measurement of current performance and find the gaps,” said Ken Redekop, director of contact centre solutions for Telus in Burnaby, B.C. “We can then prioritize where the best bang for the buck is in terms of new technology.”

Redekop said that while Telus knew what it wanted to do, the company needed help to do it. He explained that he came across BenchmarkPortal at an industry event earlier this year and was attracted by the credibility the company had with several Fortune 500 companies.

BenchmarkPortal started life as an IBM-sponsored student project at Purdue University in 1995 at the Center for Customer-Driven Quality in West Lafayette, Ind. Founder Dr. Jon Anton developed a proprietary call centre benchmarking methodology, which addresses call contact performance for telephone calls, e-mail and Web sites.

The company collects and stores the Purdue database of performance data from thousands of customer-service contact centres, and has become synonymous with best practice methods, according to President and CEO Bruce Belfiore.

“This is an opportunity…to make our products and services available to managers of call centres in Canada,” he said of the Telus partnership.

In its basic service, BenchmarkPortal presents customers with a detailed questionnaire. The firm analyzes the results and sends a report providing a graphical display of performance peaks and drops compared to other call centres around the world.

Belfiore said BenchmarkPortal presents “what it is that call centre managers need to know, and what services and products will really be of service to improve and measure performance.”

Redekop said BenchmarkPortal’s offering puts Telus on solid ground with contact centre clients.

“Every time we engage a customer that is thinking about implementing new technology, sometimes they are wondering in general just what Telus knows about contact centres,” he said. “Now…we have the ability to go in and, before we even talk about what potential products a customer needs, we can do a temperature check at 50 different levels and benchmark where the performance is in a much more holistic manner.”

Roberta Fox, president of Fox Group Consulting, a Markham, Ont.-based telecommunications consulting firm, said Telus is taking a hard look at offering services to call centres – an historically under-served market. She added that Telus might have a valuable offering with BenchmarkPortal’s help if it tackles issues in people-processes along with technology issues.

“All telcos are looking at different services as their network revenues are declining,” she said. “But for Telus, working with clients and businesses is really a good thing.”

For details, visit www.telus. com. BenchmarkPortal is online at