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copc.jpgIn the call center industry COPC provides the framework and standards for improving performance AKN Prasad General Manager (Service Delivery) IBackoffice India provides insights into COPC.

COPC (Customer Operations Performance Center Inc.) is the world’s leading authority on customer contact center operations. For more than five years COPC has been assisting clients around the world to develop and execute high return on investment and operational improvement strategies for their contact centers (Call centers).


The Standard, its Origin and Objective


The COPC-2000 Standard (now COPC-2000 standard, release 3.2B) was written in 1995 by a core group of users of call center services and associated distribution fulfillment operations, including representatives from American Express, Dell Computer Corp., Microsoft, Novell & L. L. Bean. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria and framework were used as the basis for the standard. The Standard was developed primarily for the following reasons:


1. The outsourcing companies were very dissatisfied with the performance of their existing call center service providers -”They were not delivering what they promised.”


2. These buyers of services felt that the only way to improve third party call centers performance would be through active support and a “ little encouragement.” from the buyers.


3. Implementation of improvement standards have led to significant increases in product and service quality, particularly in the manufacturing sector. For instance, the overall quality of automobiles is significantly higher today than fifteen years ago. The group felt the same advances could be made in service environments. These companies wanted something to distinguish the “really good” from the “mediocre” call center and other service providers, and wanted to be able to do this prior to granting business to the provider(s).


4. The majority of call centers were having trouble relating to existing standards (e.g., ISO 9000) because they were viewed as being very manufacturing-oriented. Furthermore, those service companies who had become certified to ISO had not gained the operational benefits they had been seeking, and many companies had lost enthusiasm for the initiative. Consequently, the vast majority of call centers had no model in place to improve performance.


After developing the Standard, the involved companies asked that COPC be formed. They believed that an industry-wide effort would be the most effective way to improve performance and that the co-founders of COPC had the background, knowledge, and enthusiasm to help evangelize the use of the Standard in outsourced call centers.


The COPC Standard – Mission and Merits


The Standard’s design environment was one where outsourcers (buyers) used Customer Service Providers (CSPs, the sellers) to provide services to end users in the name of the outsourcer. However, use of the Standard has expanded significantly, and it is now used by many organizations that operate “internal” service centers. Experience indicates these centers have the same operational issues as external centers operated by CSPs. And the Standard provides a performance-oriented, operational improvement model that works extraordinarily well for these environments.


The mission of the COPC standard is to develop and drive initiatives that support superior performance in customer-touch intensive environments, as measured by the criteria of customer service, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency. These initiatives are developed and implemented in a collaborative, consortium environment which includes practitioners from both external and internal Customer Service Providers (Cusps), Outsourcers, industry suppliers, and other industry experts.


Today, COPC


1. Audits organizations for compliance to the COPC-2000 Standard


2. Conducts benchmark reviews of call centers and fulfillment centers, using the standard as the organizing methodology for the data collected during the course of the review


3. Consults with call centers and fulfillment centers on operational performance improvement


4. Consults with purchasers of call center and fulfillment services on strategic alternatives for outsourcing, including how best to select and manage suppliers


5. Provides industry-wide forums, such as conferences, workshops, and facilitated user groups, to foster an atmosphere supportive of high levels of customer service


The COPC-2000 standard sets forth a set of minimum requirements that a customer contact center must meet in order to ensure the quality of the product and services it delivers to end-users and outsourcers is in line with their expectations. The COPC standard is not just a quality model but also a management framework that helps customer contact centers excel operationally. The standard helps in improving service and quality levels while lowering costs and creates a highly performance driven culture.




The COPC-2000 standard comprises of 29 items spread across 4 core categories namely:


1. Planning and
    Leadership – Driver


2. Processes – Enabler


3. People – Enabler


4. Performance
    Measurement – Goal


14 of the 29 items have the most impact on performance and hence more emphasized and adhered to during compliance and audit for certification.


These 14 items are:


Statement of direction, Process control, Process improvement, Transaction monitoring, Staffing and Scheduling, Verifying skill levels, Compensation and Recognition, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Dissatisfaction, Service and Quality performance, Supplier performance, Process level efficiency, Staff Attrition, Staff satisfaction, Absenteeism and safety.


The certification process follows the sequence of operations mentioned below:


1. Definition of Entity seeking certification


2. COPC conducts a Kickoff meeting


3. COPC conducts a baseline audit


4. Gaps are filled and the standard is implemented


5. COPC conducts a comprehensive compliance audit


Normal timeframe for the process could be anywhere from 6 months to one year depending on the level of process maturity the organization under certification has achieved. One of the key requirements will be availability of data for continuous six months and process maturity for minimum 3 months operation.


The entity is ‘Certified’ if it is compliant on all 29 items, ‘Conditionally Certified’ if it is compliant on at least 25 items (60 days time given for total compliance) and identified as ‘Applied’ if it is compliant on less than 25 items (12 months time given for total compliance).


A review audit is conducted six months after an entity gets certified and a re-certification audit is conducted every 12 months.


The Indian Scenario


Customer contact centers located in India who have already been certified include Transworks, New Delhi, 24/7, Bangalore and Talisma, Bangalore with many others conditionally certified and applied for certification.



Issue BG21 Dec02