Ask the MLM Consultant: Phone Agents for MLM Call Center

MLM Startup Specialist Q&A

Question: Hi, Terrel. On average, how many distributors can one person in Distributor Support take care of? Backing into this question, how many support personnel (CSR-1 or CSR-2 as defined in your Customer Service Duties document) will we need if we go live with 200 – 300 distributors? MB, Colorado

Answer: A typical day for an MLM Contact Center CSR (Customer Service Rep) is 35 to 65 calls. I keep a short list of superstars who produce 85 to 120 calls daily, but they are rare and special people who hold the key to a special place in my heart. When an MLM contact center is humming, the average call time for a senior CSR is 6 minutes (10 per hour) with 1.5 to 2 hours for projects and promised follow-ups (in an 8-hour day); for a company that sends order and enrollment calls to one CSR group and advanced business calls (commissions, policies, etc.) to an advanced CSR group, the order entry calls are in the 4.5 minute average and the senior CSR calls are about 6.5 minutes on average.

At a larger scale, and depending on variables described in the ServiceQuest MLM contact center Staffing Analysis Tool, much depends on the company’s technology team, the marketing team, and those who often create the problems about which people call. These range from the CEO who announces something without thinking through a lot of details (so distributors end up calling customer service to get the rest of the story), to the more disastrous episodes of checks getting stuffed into wrong envelopes, etc.  So, as in some “Terrel” answers, the answer is, “it depends.”

With a few hundred MLM distributors, you can set a very strong precedence by (a) treating them as royalty, so that when they call, we assume they are solving many of the problems they encounter and that they really need our help; (b) we consider shorter hours than big companies, simply so that we don’t have to staff extra just to cover the start/stop times each day (for example, and 8 to 5 schedule at first creates a 9-hour target that we can later expand); and (c) we adopt the 2-step from the start: STEP 1, solve the immediate problem for the caller while we have them on the phone, and STEP 2, figure out what is broken or how to improve training and field communication, and cut down the future calls by fixing things.

The simple answer is that with 200 to 300 distributors, if you’re doing some good distributor training (so they don’t have to call in for training-related support), you can confidently launch with 2 overlapping CSRs. If you have a manager who also works on operations but who can take calls in overflow, escalations, and lunches, you’ll give yourself important space to expand as calls ebb and flow. Then keep track of the daily metrics and cost per contact (don’t forget to track email volume and handling time).  Keep your metrics simple at the beginning.  Start by measuring how many calls and emails you receive, average length of time to handle calls and emails, and hold times.  Then break it down for each employee.  As you expand, you will also start measuring call types, hold times, average answer times, and the more advanced metrics that help you to refine efficiencies and keep costs on budget.

In my experience, MLM Startup companies wait to start measuring until they have the right equipment, or the right software, or more experienced people, or more sales . . . but the best time is to start at the very beginning by capturing and reporting the 3 key metrics.  When performance is measured, performance improves; when it’s measured and reported, improvement is faster; when performance is measured, reported, and rewarded, improvement is optimized.

If you have a question for the MLM Startup Specialist, send it to terrel@launchsmart.com.   The Staffing Analysis Tool is available to LaunchSmart clients as part of their MLM Startup support services.

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