Transfer agency operations in the investment services industry have traditionally deployed separate call center and processing functions. Some firms now deploy a single point of contact model, and for others, such a model is in its early stages or being considered. In this model, multi skilled associates perform 2 or more functions: service customers via telephone and process transaction or correspondence items.
Clients who have implemented the single point of contact model discussed with NQR their views on successes, challenges, and leading practices related to its use. Although there were different approaches to deployment, common benefits include improved quality and timeliness, and more efficient use of resources. Challenges include skill development and ensuring that skills remain fresh for associates who spend a majority of time performing one or the other function. Clients identified leading practices regarding training and deploying associates in the single point of contact model.
✓ Reduced error ‐ Fewer handoffs between areas or associates reduces the risk of error.
✓ Faster turnaround ‐ A single area handling each case or work item results in more timely
✓ Notes ‐ Because fewer people handle each item, issues such as misinterpretation of notes or the
need to seek clarification are reduced or eliminated.
✓ Lower staff turnover – The model has provided additional opportunities for career development and resulted in lower attrition.
✓ Efficient use of resources ‐ Each model provides the flexibility for more efficient use of resources, as multi skilled staff can be deployed to adjust to volumes when needed.
✓ Associate understanding ‐ The associates benefit from a more holistic understanding of the business and a working understanding of how activities of one area can affect other areas.
✓ Continuity of relationships ‐ The model facilitates building better relationships between the associate and the customer; associates can address all aspects of communication and interaction between the customer and the organization.
✓ Dedicated contacts ‐ Serves as a selling point to top‐producing advisors.
➢ The change in the process itself is a challenge. Helping associates to adapt and to accept the change requires demonstrating to them what drives the training need at the company level.
➢ The model requires an additional level of administration to deploy resources appropriately.
➢ Measuring productivity can be difficult for multi functional agents and raises challenges with planning for staffing.
➢ Maintaining the skill set is a potential pain point. Because these associates are not specialists but generalists, there is a challenge with the ability to retain knowledge and information.
➢ When handling unusual or obscure requests, newly deployed associates can encounter situations in which long or multiple holds are required.
➢ Associates must be careful to ensure that the correct system code is used when switching between telephone and processing functions.
➢ Improperly suspending or holding a processing or correspondence item to handle a call can result in duplication of effort if the same item goes back into the work queue.
✓ Because of there is crossover with the systems used and knowledge required, new hires for both areas are trained together. The new hires are then separated into specialized training for call center or for processing, depending on the track on which they are starting.
✓ Once new hires are up to speed in one area (processing or calls), they are cross‐trained in the other. One client felt that transitioning from processing to telephones was the easier approach, because the representative knows the systems and can learn the phone skills.
✓ For existing staff, train the most senior telephone people for processing, as these associates have a base knowledge of the systems and how they work.
✓ When cross‐training, block off times to dedicate for each skill. Use the different function and stick with it until the representative is up to speed for all types. He/she can then be deployed in the multi functional environment.
✓ For associates who spend most of their time on the telephone side, days off the phone are scheduled to focus on processing and vice versa for associates who spend most of their time processing items. Refresher training is also scheduled periodically to help the associates focus on and maintain each skill set.
✓ Accurate forecasting systems and communication between the telephone and processing areas are keys to meeting the administrative challenge.
✓ Use an overflow group to assist depending on volumes; this also serves as a pool for candidates to the multi functional group.
✓ Ensure that the staff understands the necessary use of aux codes and reasons they must be accurately captured. Capturing this information helps to determine how much time is spent on after‐call work and the type of after‐call work being conducted, as well as to plan staffing needs.
✓ Obtain staff “buy‐in” by including their feedback regarding challenges they face to help improve the model or to address challenges.