The TARP 1997 Teleservice Benchmarking Studies of Customer Care Call Centres, published Monday 28 July 97.

This is a discussion paper on the reports impact on the Call Centre Industry.

Note: These reports will only be for sale in Australia and I am grateful to MD Colin Kent of TARP Australia for taking this initiative and for allowing The Call Centre Managers Forum access to the report. As a service to our Internet visitors we are providing a direct link-order form to Tarp Australia who is publishing the report and selling it.

Introduction & Scope of the benchmarking study :

This Teleservice Benchmarking report is the most comprehensive study of Call Centres world wide. It included 517 Call Centres from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand & the UK. Previous attempts by Tarp and other research companies have fallen short of expectations in particular because of failure to establish Real Benchmarks which reflects the Call Centres Outcomes of relevance to the owner of the Call Centre operation.

What is new is that in this respect The TARP 1997 Teleservice Benchmark Studies have got it right and spent considerable time with the report-sponsors to define Outcomes which reflects, not so much the number of calls or the length of calls, but rather how the call influenced the caller to interact with the company. This is major breakthrough and will help influence Call Centre Managers align their Call Centre activities to the business purpose of the organisation paying the bills. ( In case you want to know more about this issues, I suggest you read the article False Benchmarks ).

This report is a Milestone for the Call Centre Industry and should be required reading for any-one involved in developing Phone Channel strategies or managing a Call Centre.

Key Definitions of The 1997 Tarp Teleservice Benchmarking Studies:

The major change from any previous Call Centre Benchmark study is the basic research done to establish Benchmarks measuring Outcomes rather than Call Centre activities and then, based on the accepted outcomes to research and define the Best In Class. Only this methodology allows the reader of the report to compare own Call Centre activities with the Best in Class Benchmarks, provided you know and understand the underlying Outcome definitions.

Criteria for Best In Class (BIC) Assessment:

Customer Care Call Centre

Principal Purpose(s) of Outcome Outcome Measure
Customer satisfaction with contact experience At least 85 % of Customers are satisfied or very satisfied



Principal Purpose(s) of Outcome Outcome Measure
Sales Inbound >60% sales conversion rate, and revenue greater than expenses.
Sales Outbound > 20% sales conversion rate
Customer Retention Inbound <10% annual attrition
Customer Retention Outbound <10% annual attrition, or 'do not call'- rate less than or equal to 5%


Credit and Collections

Principal Purpose(s) of Outcome Outcome Measure
Debt write-off level <4% (average of all responders)
Payment sent following contact >41% (average of all responders)
Customer satisfaction with contact experience >70% (average of all responders)


By establishing this BIC Benchmark foundation the report now permits the Reader/User to conduct a comparative Benchmark study to any existing Call Centre , provided you can accept the Outcome definitions and relate them to your Call Centre operation. For the Credit & Collection report TARP uses the World Best in Class (WBIC), but has not provided similar Outcome definitions to help the report reader/user to know what the Benchmarks are.


The TARP 1997 Benchmark Report :

The introduction outlines the methodology and Outcome standards, and lists the key Sponsors of the report- American Express, AT&T Marketing Sciences, AT&T Universal Card, Bell Canada, Federal Express, Fidelity Investments. Ford Motor Credit, Chaste International, Master Card International, Telstra & Telecom New Zealand.

The pages on "the benefits of benchmarking" is valuable for any one wanting to use the report in a comparative Benchmark Study. (If you want to learn more about how to Benchmark suggest you read the report Benchmarking in Call Centres, which is for sale at the Managers Bookstore).


The Survey results are divided into 4 major reports (each sold separately) :

1) Customer Care (normally called customer service) 2) Telemarketing (which denotes revenue generating customer interaction), 3) Credit & Collections & 4) IVR ( use of voice automation)

Each with an Executive summary and lots of tables, survey results and comparison to BIC.

Overview of the Key Findings :

Customer Care :

Best In Class Call Centres 1) Optimise the use of technology, 2) Use data to increase effectiveness, 3) Use a balanced approach to evaluation & 4) Value Human resource.

The report goes into great depth on these four key Issues.

Measure of overall customer satisfaction

Best In Class 91%

Non BIC 71%

Australia 69%

NZ 87%

All Other 79%

My Comment : In fact Australian Customer Care Call Centres seem to be cutting corners and has significantly lower Customer Satisfaction than any other area. It is my guess that Australian Customer Care Call Centres are still operating on "Old fashioned" benchmarks such as No of Calls; Length of Calls, Length of wrap up time rather than Outcomes. Wrong benchmarks ensures bad results every time.

IVR( Voice Automation):

Comparison Between Australia/NZ and North America (in IVR) :

Credit & Collections :

Three Key Findings - 1) World Best in Class Call Centres spend the same or less money for operations and collect more money. 2) Quality of time is more important than Quantity of time & 3) Problem-solving approach works better than traditional approaches.


Telemarketing :

There are 3 general findings : 1) Best In Class Call Centres demonstrate a more result- focused management style, 2) Best in Class optimise the use of technology & 3) Best in Class Call Centres measure and plan for higher efficiency.


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Call Centre Managers Forum 1997; All rights reserved.