The struggle with contact center efficiency is common at one time or another. And because efficiency is directly tied to minimizing overhead costs in the call center, it’s a prominent challenge. Coping with unanticipated upticks in demand, staff turnover, and other common call center challenges only further complicate matters for managers working to create an efficient, productive, and effective team.
Contact Center Efficiency Tips
To gain some insights into the specific strategies and tactics call centers can use to boost efficiency and arm you with effective strategies you can put to use, we reached out to a panel of call center experts, managers and leaders and asked them to answer this question:
“What is the most effective way for a contact center to increase efficiency?”
Meet Our Panel of Contact Center Experts:
Find out what you can do today to boost efficiency and improve call center performance by reading our pros’ responses below.
Tyler Riddell @eSUBinc
Tyler Riddell is the Vice President of Marketing for eSUB with over 15 years of experience in Marketing, Product Management, Advertising, and Public Relations. He has a proven track record for successful go to market and corporate communication programs in multiple vertical tech markets.
“One of the most important aspects of a call center is that phone traffic flows correctly…”
Nothing slows down the efficiency of a call center more than poor call traffic distribution. If customers are being sent to the wrong department, then they tied up customer service personnel from helping the right people. It ties up lines and makes the whole center fall behind.
Alex Tebbs @joinvia
Alex Tebbs is the Co-Founder and Sales Director at VIA, the UK’s largest Hosted Skype for Business solution.
“For contact centers to become more efficient, they need to become…”
More adaptive to tech, especially those that are cloud-based. On-site systems, like those offered by traditional PBX, are bulky and require more hardware when you need to physically up-scale your business. Having a reliance on this type of solution is intrinsically inefficient. A more efficient business demands a more efficient infrastructure and one that is more modern in its approach.
Contact centers can achieve this by opting for a unified communications solution that is hosted in the cloud, a.k.a. Hosted UC. Hosted UC solutions can cater for everything within a contact center, from inbound, outbound and even internal communication calls/messages. Hosted solutions also scale much better and by their very nature, are immediately much cheaper and more efficient to implement. Just by using software, you can scale from one customer representative agent to one thousand and back again without dealing with any downtime. In contrast, a PBX system would need hefty installation resource to cater for this business demand; installation resource that you necessarily haven’t got time for or can afford.
The type of efficiency offered by cloud-based communications also allows for a more nimble business as it opens the doors up to remote working. With hosted UC, customer representatives can be situated anywhere, from their homes to even other satellite offices of yours.
Skype for Business is already a popular and well established hosted unified communications solution that many contact centers already opt for, but several others also exist on the market. Ideally, you need one that’s been adapted specifically for customer representation. Our solution, VIA Contact Centre, is actually an adapted form of Skype for Business that offers added benefits to the contact center like call recording, smart agent selection, and interactive voice response – the latter is particularly useful as it negates the need for switchboards entirely.
Whichever communications solution you migrate to as a contact center, it’s critical that you opt for cloud to remain efficient and ahead of the curve.
Vincent Nero @Successories
Vincent Nero is the VP General Manager of Successories.
“The best way for contact centers to increase efficiency is…”
Successories motivational posters were part of a study at a call center, and they found office art and motivational posters increase productivity by 33% compared to barren offices. Published in Human Resource Management, an independent study conducted in a real-world work environment concluded that workers in an office with motivational pictures increased their performance success rate by 33% compared to call center employees with the same task in an office lacking motivational art.
Source: Human Resource Management; Issue: 51(4); 2012; Pages 535-548
Additionally, call centers can simply increase productivity with small investments in recognition & reward items. According to Gallop, 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognized. And our studies have shown that constant recognition reinforced with small, cost-effective gifts can increase productivity by 20%. Simply institute daily and weekly goals to reward employees with small items such as lapel pins or fidget toys for hitting or exceeding those goals. Unfortunately, the general mentality is that a paycheck is not a reward, it is expected for simply showing up. However, positive reinforcement and reward-based behavior gets the most out of employees while they are there.
Rachel Ivers worked as an Inside Sales Representative for 8z Real Estate for one and a half years. She also worked for zavvie, a real estate marketing startup. She is now working at Baceline Investments helping the Leasing Team acquire and retain tenants. Additionally, she works at the CU Boulder Real Estate Center.
“The number one way to increase efficiency in a call center is by…”
Being responsive and getting back to potential customers in a timely manner. Prospective customers like to feel like they matter. Being responsive, setting follow-up reminders, and doing what you say you are going to do increases customer acquisition and helps the center run more efficiently.
Katherine Dougherty @maidpro
Katherine Dougherty, MaidPro National Sales Center Director, describes herself as being MaidPro born and raised. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in English from UMass Boston she started as an entry level representative at MaidPro. After only 2 years she was managing the entire department. She now heads up the National Sales Center and is proud of the work they do for MaidPro franchises all around North America.
“There are several effective ways for call centers to improve efficiency including…”
Reduce Turnover – Keeping a stable team will help you to reduce training costs and time. It will also help you to monitor productivity on a longer-term scale. Do your best to:
- Monitor and generate engagement; check in often
- Make onboarding & ongoing coaching as stellar as possible
- Encourage honest and open communication
- Strive for ongoing learning, skill building, and development
- Discover and provide purpose/meaning … set quarterly goals outside of day-to-day responsibilities.
Optimize individual efficiency – Ensure there is enough ‘refresh time’ to have people running 100% when on the queue. Burnt-out staff produce less.
Have the best technology – Finicky technology that makes day-to-day functions difficult, adds to the frustration and takes up far more time and man-power than most realize. No sacred cows … watch out for any processes that are time vampires.
Metrics, Measure, and Monitor – Make sure your metrics and associated goals are clear and concise while aligning with efficiency and effectiveness. Make each metric public and ensure everyone knows why that metric is measured. Monitor each metric and make performance accessible to all so goals are transparent and everyone can contribute to reaching milestones.
For most, contact centers are the heart of the business. Make sure your employees believe in your core values. Lastly, make it fun! Keep a stimulating environment that people enjoy working in.
Kolin Porter @HigherEdGrowth
Kolin Porter is the Vice President, Product Innovation at Higher Ed Growth. Higher Ed Growth (HEG) is a full-service marketing agency specializing in post-secondary education. HEG uses proprietary technology, like EduMaximizer, to deliver targeted enrollment leads to for-profit and nonprofit education clients.
“One of the biggest strains on contact center efficiency? Too many portals…”
Many agents end up with multiple tabs open on their screens, flipping between them to complete the inquiry generation process. This juggling act severely impacts lead quality and quantity. Average handling times (AHT) increase. Errors happen. Compliance missteps occur. Customer service diminishes.
So much of contact center efficiency hinges on using the right technology. It’s crucial that contact centers implement a tool that pulls in all of the necessary portals and processes into one simplified platform.
James Pollard @theadvisorcoach
James Pollard is a marketing consultant who works specifically with financial advisors over at The Advisor Coach. A large portion of his work involves helping people increase their call efficiency, especially since the financial services industry depends so much on outbound prospecting over the phone.
“The best thing that you can do to increase efficiency at a contact center is…”
To implement continuous training. Most centers do front-end training and that’s pretty much it. They don’t do anything else except maybe monitor a few calls and give some feedback.
When it comes to contact centers, a huge amount of money is lost when someone has an undeveloped skill. If someone is making a mistake for two months waiting for his/her quarterly coaching session, thousands of dollars can be lost. Continuous coaching and training helps mitigate this risk.
Srii Srinivasan @Chargebackgurus
Before founding Chargeback Gurus, Srii was the co-owner and CEO of InSO International Call Center for 13 years. InsO International changed the call center and customer service arena by pioneering the world’s first hybrid call center solution.
“There are several ways that contact centers can increase efficiency …”
And most fail to do simple things that would make a great impact on floor productivity. Here are eight good practices a contact center should have:
- Motivationis the key to success in any contact center: Every agent is different when it comes to motivation. However, it is up to the executives and floor team to find out where the happy medium is with everyone. Also, it is understood that a customer service team and a sales team would need different types of motivation techniques. This is the main key to keeping agents happy and productive. Happy agents equal better productivity and better quality.
- Proper training: Giving proper training to agents in the beginning is very important as they will learn how to resolve certain issues and have the proper knowledge of the campaign. This will improve campaign performance overall including agents’ service levels. Training documentation needs to be updated regularly, and on-going training is important for improving efficiency.
- First Call Resolution: In today’s busy world, each customer wants to resolve their problem(s) fast and efficiently without having to consistently follow up. Therefore, it is very important that the contact center have a strong training session for any given campaign so that agents are aware of all aspects and can offer a one-call resolution for each client that they are in contact with.
- Reduced Queue wait time: This can be done by having a strong dialer that can reroute calls to different agent groups. Example: Campaign A has a high call volume but campaign B has less calls and the agents that are assigned campaign B are not busy. Rerouting the calls to the Campaign B agent group improves efficiency. This can be achieved if all agents are trained on both campaigns so that the queue hold time can be reduced.
- Re-visiting key performance metrics: When thinking about a call center and metrics, we mainly focus on Average Handle time (AHT) or average talk time. These are some of the main metrics; however, we also must think about the call outcomes and other key factors that can impact the business. Depending on the business, these factors can be customer satisfaction, new sales, lifetime value of customers, and first call resolution rate that should also be measured to have a good balance between efficiency and effectiveness in a campaign.
- Agent Desktops: Having a user-friendly desktop for agents so that they can efficiently have everything they need in one area is a great way to have a healthy AHT, and most importantly they can assist the customers efficiently and effectively.
- Agent empowerment: Having all the information that the agents need is very important so that they have the right information at the right time. In return, the customer experience will improve and the agent frustration will be reduced.
- Daily meetings with agents: Daily meetings with each team member are useful not only to know what is expected of the team for the day, but they also make everyone feel that they are part of a strong group and help team members feel motivated before they start their daily duties.
If all these points mentioned above are practiced, the contact center will have a great track record with their clients and agents alike.
Bill Dettering @_zingtree
Bill Dettering is the CEO and Founder of Zingtree, a SaaS solution for building interactive decision trees and agent scripts for contact centers (and many other industries). Launched in 2013, Zingtree has helped over 15,000 organizations streamline support, engage with customers, and more.
“The biggest issue with contact center efficiency is turnover…”
Since contact centers are notorious for high turnover, quickly onboarding new agents and making sure they follow company procedures is a huge issue. This is even more critical for BPOs. Interactive agent scripts from Zingtree solve this problem.
Presented in a step-by-step, interactive format, agent scripts built with Zingtree guide contact center reps through every step of a call, so they always know exactly what to say (and when to say it). With built-in analytics and reports, managers can track agent performance to improve effectiveness all around. Agents can also send feedback directly to script authors to further improve processes.
Jeff Greenfield @C3metrics
Jeff Greenfield is the co-founder and chief operating officer of C3 Metrics. As the chief architect of the platform, Greenfield worked directly with the former CEO and Chairmen of Nielsen to solve advertising’s attribution problem, which now measures the advertising impact for some of the largest brands in the world.
Greenfield’s history of technology and marketing initiatives have served blue-chip clients including: GlaxoSmithKline, Kimberly-Clark, Sony BMG, Black & Decker, Forest Labs, Plum Creek (NYSE: PCL), and more.
Prior to co-founding C3 Metrics, Greenfield was a recognized thought leader in the area of Branded Content as publisher of Branded Entertainment Monthly, a joint effort with VNU Media, detailing industry statistics, gaps, and trends. He’s been a featured speaker at NAPTE, The Next Big Idea, and a news source in: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, CNET, and Investor’s Business Daily.
“Key components in increasing the efficiency of contact centers include…”
Live Call Monitoring, Coaching, and Inter-agent chat. Being able to monitor calls and have the instant support of other more seasoned agents give newer agents a sense of security and confidence. Confidence in employees increases efficiency.
Smitha Baliga @Tele_Direct
Smitha is the CEO and CFO of TeleDirect. As the CEO of TeleDirect, Smitha is responsible for running all facets of the business and has a proven executive management track record. Smitha obtained her license as CPA in 2007 from the California Board of Accountancy. With more than 15 years of experience in business, finance and accounting, she is also responsible for implementing financial controls and processes. She is also responsible for organizational improvements and streamlining business operations that drive growth, increase efficiency, and bottom-line profit.
“Steps in increasing contact center effectiveness include…”
Hire the right agents to fit your company culture and pace of your call activity. Use agent profiles and pre-screen your candidates with vigor. If your agent is coming from a low call volume center, likes the lull between calls, and does not have the mind-set of a face paced, efficiently routed center they will fail.
Use Technology to give your agents access to information quickly and within a universal standard for easy adoption. The use of CTI, on screen prompts, logic based scripting, and easily accessible FAQs allow agents to access customer information and solutions quickly.
Create a shared agent environment where calls are routed by agent skill set. The use of skills-based routing within your ACD can drastically help to positively impact overall ASA and reduce agent handle time. This combination is very powerful once you factor in call type and duration routing within your skillset. When calls are efficiently and effectively routed to agents who are properly trained, then reinforced through call type exposure you will receive a natural uptick to efficiency due to the familiarity agents have with the assigned calls.
Choose the key metrics that you will use to monitor your performance. What is not measured is not met. To create efficiency, you will need to select quantitate measures like: average speed to answer (ASA), bench mark global percentage of calls to be answered in a defined number of seconds (common industry standard is 80% of calls in 20 seconds or less), measure your occupancy rates (agent work time/scheduled time), keep control on your agent disconnect time (time on account but not actively working), this will need to be measured vs. your occupancy to sure up how productive your agents are. Finally, make sure you have agent score cards that accurately reflect their performance vs. the metrics you are measuring for quality and productivity.
Reward your Agents with Incentives when they hit your performance metrics. Have a clear process for escalations. Give your agents a support team that is accessible both on the floor and during the live call. We suggest keeping your management to employee ratio in the neighborhood of 20:1 or less. We strive to be at 15:1 with team lead support on deck during the call.
Continuous Improvement Training as your agents progress through your established skillsets. By establishing a continuous training schedule, you can be that each agent will receive the appropriate training to handle assigned call types. This allows agents to feel confident in the skills that they obtained for the assigned level.
Feedback loops are imperative to success. We tend to focus on scheduled agent feedback meetings and use Inter-Agent Chat to allow agents to share common issues and get answers. With inter-agent chat, agents are able to leverage the expertise and experience of more seasoned agents and supervisors while supporting customers. Chat can be accomplished in many ways. We have an internal chat system designed into our agent dashboard. However, you can leverage off the shelf systems like MS Office or Google Chat depending on your security needs.
John Rydell @PhoneBurner
Brothers, John & Paul Rydell founded PhoneBurner because they wanted to create an online sales tool that would truly help sales people. They are both lifelong technology geeks who love business, technology, and helping people make more money and meet their goals.
“One way to increase contact center efficiency is…”
There is nothing worse than receiving a sales call with a long awkward pause before a connection is made. Not only is it a strange way for a conversation to start, but it wastes the time of your prospect and the time of your sales agent. Eliminating this delay on every call by using a dialing software is a sure-fire way to cut down on inefficiency throughout the work day.
Jack Barmby @Gnatta
At the age of 25, Jack Barmby is the innovative founder and CEO of Gnatta, a market leading customer technology platform. Jack is also the founder and CEO of FM Outsource, an award winning digital customer service outsourcing solution, and a regular public speaker on customer service, customer experience, AI, and automation.
“The most effective way for contact centers to increase efficiency is…”
First, you would need to consider technology. Each time a human makes an assignation decision with a contact, that’s time wasted compared to how much quicker and more accurate a machine could make the same decision. This is the same with the prioritizing of replies, the same with gathering basic DPA information, and so on. Implementing time-saving technology for your point of contact staff is what will eventually separate the winners from the losers over the next few years.
Next would be AI. Both augmented and artificial intelligence are spoken about as if they’re a wild future which is coming for us all, when in fact this technology is already here. Whether it’s Wit.AI, IMB Watson, or one of a hundred startups tackling this issue, AI is readily available and priced more realistically than one might expect. Augmented intelligence especially can remove a lot of the human time needed to complete a contact by handling the time-intensive repetitive tasks, allowing the human operator to focus on providing the empathy that is so important for the customer.
Finally, we look towards key performance indicators. It sounds obvious but the first step to improving efficiency is to obsess over your metrics. Set your goals (contact concurrency or resolution time, the percentage of first time resolution, etc.) and then measure them obsessively, rewarding improvement. Going from 50% first time resolution to 100% first time resolution might sound like a great target, but getting to 60% is already a 20% improvement over the benchmark. Setting step-by-step goals like this can have a huge impact on improving employee mentality and what may seem like little steps can really add up over a 12-week period.
Scott Nazareth @loanerrcanada
Scott Nazareth, a University of Toronto Graduate, Licensed Mortgage Professional, and CEO of Loanerr, started his sales career at Optima Communications, a third-party contact center based in Downtown Toronto working for clients like American Express, Scotiabank, CAA, and Canada Life.
“The most effective way that contact centers can increase efficiency internally is…”
Through outsourcing their Quality Assurance to a country that offers labor at a lower wage. For North American call centers that have in-house sales/customer support personnel, often times there are multiple players of management. This may include a team captain, a quality assurance specialist, a campaign coordinator, and a program/floor manager that all report to a unit director and other persons within senior management. These multiple layers of accountability serve to ensure a well-oiled machine, and there is often a good ratio of 30:1 front-end call reps to management.
The QA can work independently from the team – if the feedback/coaching can be transmitted to a team leader that is in touch with the team regularly. Aside from decreasing operating costs, this also allows team meetings that are typically run by a team leader or campaign coordinator to also include QA feedback. If a QA person is responsible for delivering coaching/feedback, it can be time-consuming.
Often times for QA – aside from new products and script changes – the soft skills and deviance from the script can be more closely related to the work environment. Rather than segmenting the QA role away from the team leader – by a 3rd party delivering consistent feedback, especially if they work in a time zone that will operate when the home time zone is off work or sleeping, it can be part of a morning ritual.
Kristian Martell @ShoreGroupInc
As Lead for the ShoreGroup Contact Center Advanced Solutions (CCAS) team, Kristian is responsible for the development of ShoreGroup’s Contact Center Best Practices and Deployment Methodologies. In his capacity as the Lead for CCAS organization, Kristian is ultimately responsible for the successful deployment of all Contact Center related initiatives through the Day-2 Support Lifecycle.
“Of course, paramount to the efficiency of a contact center is…”
Information accessibility. A well-informed agent is more likely to resolve an issue on the first contact, and do so more effectively, than one who lacks the necessary system and tool know-how. Since time is money in a contact center, first contact resolution is a primary goal, regardless of the industry.
Easy retrieval of pertinent information for agents may seem like an obvious necessity, but the need for information actually goes beyond these individuals. The routing engine delivering the contacts must be optimized in such a way that your customer’s experience is both brief and successful. Contact Center applications must be programmed to retrieve as much information as possible, in the shortest period of time. The goal is to transfer the caller through the system and to the right department smoothly – with little to no effort on their part. Many times, this system optimization alone can raise the efficiency of the contact center.
Provide self-service options to your callers, but don’t force these options upon them. Give callers a way out of an application and into the contact center, but do so while tracking the caller’s route through the system and to the appropriate agent. This will equip the agent with specifics about the customer’s need and provide detail about the contact, so that information does not need to be reiterated multiple times.
Ben Friedman @helloallset
Ben Friedman is the Co-Founder and Head of Operations at All Set, a Boston-based start-up that customers find top house cleaners with verified reviews. It has been recognized as a Top 10 Boston Startup.
“The Key to having the most effective contact center is…”
One word…. HIRING. Hiring the right people, with the right attitude, outlook, and demeanor will always have the biggest impact on how efficient your contact center can be. If you have the right people on the team, you can easily implement processes (many of which will come directly from the people you hired) and have employees that enjoy their work.
Lisa Chu @BlacknBianco
Lisa Chu is the owner of a kids apparel brand named Black N Bianco. The brand is dedicated to providing affordable and adorable children’s formal wear.
“The best way to increase efficiency of contact centers to increase efficiency is…”
As someone who has used a contact center in the past, I know there is always room for improvement. From my past experience, a lot of my customers were frustrated with the agent and their inability to solve their issue, which resulted in lots of transferred calls and long wait times. This could have been easily improved by identifying the reasons customers are contacting my business – sorting and transferring calls based on the reason of contact. It would send my customers to the correct agent every time, improving the wait time and efficiency of the contact center. Using feedback also helps the contact center monitor the effectiveness of the agent and their ability to satisfy the customer. It would help detect any issues with the agent and offer managers a way to communicate any issues directly with the agent.
Nabahat Shanza @nabahatShanzA
Nabahat Shanza is a professional Content writer, Freelance Blogger and Literary Analyst, Critic and Writer. She writes for the blog of Dialer360. Her articles are also published on other sites as a guest blogger. She has a command to write on call center software and new technologies used in contact centers. In her free time, she writes literature. She is also volunteering for YAROH Welfare Organization, Lahore, Pakistan.
“To sustain within the competitive setting, it’s necessary for call centers to…”
Introduce. Quality call monitoring is one such observation that has not solely helped management in understanding clients’ demand; however, it has been the key to success towards better customer service and decreasing operational value. With call monitoring, managers have the ability to obtain insights from the continued call and get reassurance that the expected principles are met. Further, the insights are often used for analyzing continued trends within the market and those related to areas for improvement.
Markus Linder @markuslinder
Markus Linder is an expert in the field of e-commerce and Digital Advice, in which he has been active since 2005. He is also the co-founder and Managing Director of SMARTASSISTANT, a solution to quickly create and manage interactive Guided Selling solutions (product finders, product wizards, product advisors) via an easy-to-use web platform.
“One of the best ways for contact centers to increase efficiency is…”
Guided Troubleshooting technologies. The number one challenge most contact centers face is the cost of agent training. Because of the pressures associated with most industries, high turnovers are unavoidable and training sessions need to be conducted frequently with new agents. An average turnover rate in customer contact centers is 30-45%, while in other industries it’s approximately 15.1%. In such an environment, training is time-consuming and expensive. According to the Deloitte survey, it takes about $12k to replace an average call center agent.
Guided Troubleshooting allows you to train contact center agents, guide them through the questions to ask the customers, and show them a quick path to a viable solution, which helps reduce training costs and increase efficiency. By implementing these tools and strategies, agents will become more empowered and more effective.
Brett Remington is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence in Madison, Wisconsin.
“The most effective way for contact centers to increase efficiency in a sustainable and meaningful way is…”
To work backwards through their organization: the most efficient contact center is the one that doesn’t need to be used.
Understanding why your customers are contacting you, and using that Pareto analysis to fix upstream issues is the most important work of a contact center manager. Call prevention is the highest performance outcome, but to reduce inbound calls, you need to work with other areas of your operation (sales, product development, IT, etc.) to address root cause issues. In addition to increasing efficiency of your contact center, you’ll be able to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Tsahi Levent-Levi @tsahi
Tsahi Levent-Levi is an Independent Analyst and Consultant for WebRTC. He is the author and editor of bloggeek.me, which focuses on the ecosystem and business opportunities around WebRTC and telecommunications.
“The most effective way to increase efficiency in contact centers is by…”
Increasing context. When a contact center agent answers a person, he usually needs to start collecting information or authenticating the identity of the caller. This can happen more than once when a person gets transferred between agents.
Reducing this component, along with automatically being able to collect data prior to the call itself to deduce the intent of the user can greatly increase the accuracy of matching the right agent to the customer and also reduce the handling time by reducing the time it takes to collect and verify the information.
This can be done by understanding what the user did prior to the call, either on the enterprise’s website, its self-service application, or on the service offered by the enterprise directly.
These types of integrations usually require digital transformation of the contact center and a shift towards omnichannel.
Jessica Gagner @jessicagagner
Jessica Gagner is works in Communications and Events strategy for Bioconnect.
“Increasing efficiency for Contact Centers can be achieved by…”
Anyone who has called into a call center has experienced the painful process of going through a set of PVQs (Personal Verifiable Questions) or KBAs (Knowledge Based Questions) to verify that they are who they say they are. But this isn’t just painful for the client experience.
Research shows that the operational costs associated have dramatic effects on companies. A company receiving 10,000 calls per day loses approximately $0.02 in operational costs and $0.57 for every call into the call center which amounts to $6,460,500 average costs.
Using KBAs, the average time to verify the identity of a user is 45-90 seconds. This process could be improved if we removed KBAs or PVQs with something unique to the person – voice recognition. Voice recognition takes approximately 5-10 seconds to confirm and provides greater assurance of identity whilst complying with KYC and AML measures.
And if done through an app (such as the bank’s mobile banking app), the voice recognition can also be tied to the device ID of the user.
Jeff Toister @toister
Jeff Toister is the author of The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service. He is one of ICMI’s Top 50 Thought Leaders on Twitter and on HDI’s list of Top 25 Thought Leaders in Technical Support and Service Management. He also owns and operates Toister Performance Solutions, Inc.
“The best way for contact centers to increase efficiency is…”
To stop focusing agents on efficiency, even if that is counterintuitive. Have agents focus instead on fully resolving customers’ needs on the first contact whenever possible and preventing repeat contacts.
One contact center stopped sharing average handle time statistics with agents and focused agents on first contact resolution metrics instead. Repeat calls went down, but so did average handle time! Another contact center stopped asking agents to work on emails in between calls and assigned agents to either the phone queue or email queue. Efficiency increased in both queues and errors dramatically declined because agents were more focused.
Now, here’s the caveat. Management should still track productivity metrics like average handle time, emails per hour, or chats per hour. Rather than putting those metrics in front of agents, contact center leaders should look for outliers. These are agents whose productivity is significantly above or below the average. An outlier is likely someone who needs some extra assistance.
Paul Faust @RingBoost
Paul Faust is SVP of Business Development and a partner in RingBoost, the nation’s leading provider of custom phone numbers and other marketing tools.
“Increasing the efficiency of your contact center is as easy as…”
Using your wealth of customer data to give contact center reps every opportunity to connect with their callers. One of the most common complaints about contact centers is that the customer has to repeat their problem to multiple agents. Make sure you have software in place that gives all agents access to the same customer information, then give them the training they need to use it quickly and efficiently. Cutting out repetitive conversations will alleviate most customer service complaints and allow your agents to focus on resolving the issue at hand.
Karin Hurt @LetsGrowLeaders
Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc’s list of 100 Great Leadership and American Management Association’s 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 2 books: Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss.
“We’ve had success in increasing efficiency of contact centers by…”
Isolating the most important behaviors at the agent and team level reinforcing them consistently thorough training, recognition, calibration, and call coaching. The contact centers I’ve been working with have made huge progress in quality and efficiency by working with agents and nailing the first 30 seconds of the call: opening with confidence and empathy, showing up as an expert, and letting the customer know how much you care.
We’ve aligned coaching, training and performance management systems around this focus. Calls go more efficiently and more smoothly.
How Can I Improve My Call Center Efficiency?
There are a number of individual ways to improve the efficiency of a call center, 25 of which come from the experts in this article. Most tactics can be classified in one or more of the following four categories:
- The Customer: Understanding the customer, reasons for calls and even having relevant personas is all necessary data for improving efficiency in a particular call center.
- Agents: Improving the ability of individual agents, refining your hiring to improve agent quality and working to continually train reps for improvement are typical ideas for improving the overall function of a center.
- Technology: The ability to listen to calls, segment callers to the correct department and see metrics that matter to the operation are all great examples of how tech can be implemented in a call center.
- Processes: From intricate details, like the specifics of a call center’s hiring process, to how supervisors review performance and listen to call recordings; There are a great deal of processes and systems.
Many of these categories of improvement have crossover. For instance, a piece of technology could improve the customer experience, agent performance and the overall processes all at once.
Successful Call Center Strategies
It’s important to understand both the needs (of your customers, reps and company) as well as how to achieve those needs via technology and/or processes.
You might consider solutions that help you listen to your customers or streamline QA processes, such as speech analytics solutions. Tools such as speech analytics can help boost agent performance while also ensuring compliance with regulations, such as the mini-Miranda debt collectors must state to communicate the purpose of their contact.
By taking advantage of sophisticated technology solutions like CalllMiner Eureka, contact centers can streamline processes and run more efficiently while maintaining customer satisfaction.
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