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Optimize Management in Your Call Center

Forbes magazine states that over 70 percent of companies have made customer experience improvement their number one priority. Why the new trend? Well, American companies collectively lose over $62 billion every year because of poor customer service. That’s a staggering statistic. Let’s explore some ways you can recoup some of that income for your call center, and ensure your losses due to poor customer service continue to shrink into nonexistence. In a contact center, the management team is the driving force that keeps customers happy, employees engaged, and revenue streams consistent. Take a look at these seven ways you can optimize management in your call center.

Focus on First Call Resolution (FCR) Rates
Almost 60 percent of consumers never return to a business if their first call isn’t properly handled. The poor call handling can be the result of a number of different factors. Maybe customer service agents are receiving general training that’s a little too general, or maybe management is neglecting to enforce business protocols that quickly resolve problems.

FCR rates can be calculated by selecting a time period, gathering data, segmenting call types, calculating total volumes, and identifying calls that fall within the contact windows. Some of the most common categories include legal, sales, billing, marketing, manufacturing, and technical support. Exact FCR metrics will depend on the company’s industry, unique variables, and environmental factors. No matter how you calculate your rates, remember that call center management should equally focus on individual, team, departmental, and organizational rates.

If you calculate your FCR rates and find them in any way lacking, take some time to dig through your processes and workflows, and find out why your numbers aren’t hitting the mark. Are your call center agents rushing through calls? Are they not providing important information to customers that could help resolve issues faster? Are your IVRs configured for optimal performance? Is your contact center solution provider’s uptime (or lack thereof) affecting call quality? Once you’ve identified the underlying issues, take concrete action to improve the areas that need work, whether it’s providing better training for agents or switching to call center software solution that provides higher uptime.

Use Your Technology Tools
Big data, sentiment analysis, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics are some of the best tools you can utilize to understand all the different aspects of a customer’s experience with your contact center. For example, speech analytics may yield valuable insights that can significantly improve the customer experience. Speech analytics algorithms identify key phrases, proactive responses, and knowledge gaps. They can even evaluate the customer’s emotion and satisfaction by analyzing voice tone and sentiment. Cross-channel analytics allow call center management to collectively analyze chat, email, phone, mobile, and social media data. Cross-channel analytics enable management to identify and focus on their customers’ preferred channels to optimize interactions and outcomes. Finally, predictive analytics can help reduce handling time and operating costs while boosting agent effectiveness.

Put Your Insights Into Action
The above-mentioned data is a valuable tool to identify issues, pinpoint inefficiencies, and improve staff and organizational performance. Every chronic customer service problem should be evaluated through in-depth root cause analyses that conclude with corrective action plans.

You’ll probably find that hard questions will begin to appear throughout this process; questions that probe into your organization’s efficiency and productivity. Don’t fear the hard questions. Use them to identify gaps in training and pinpoint elements that could be contributing to detrimental issues. This will help your call center management team better understand which issues need to be escalated, which department receives the most calls, and what factors contribute to departmental difficulties. The ability to accurately forecast peak call volume during seasonal rushes, marketing promotions, and new product launches is an invaluable management tool.

Don’t Forget Quality Management
Quality control doesn’t always mean that call center managers must implement an ISO 9001 quality management system. Instead, quality management principles can be applied to call center operations and customer service to achieve better management and customer service results.

First, appoint a quality assurance specialist to oversee these activities. Include the quality assurance specialist in the employee onboarding and training process to assist with coaching. They’ll be able to utilize specialized quality monitoring tactics to provide qualitative samples that can improve employee performance, such as call recordings and customer feedback. They may also use quantitative feedback, such as peer-to-peer evaluation scores to help improve performances. Then you can focus on systematically monitoring and evaluating chats, emails, live calls, and more in order to generate individual and team scores and identify improvement opportunities.

Recognize and Reward Employees
It bears repeating; many organizations fail to actively express genuine appreciation and publicly recognize employees for their hard work and excellent customer service. Failing to reward high performers, not encouraging struggling staff, and neglecting to celebrate collective success may result in negative cycles that lead to poor employee engagement, high turnover rates, and ultimately, unsatisfied customers.

Entrepreneur Magazine suggests that every company needs a ‘strategic reward system’ that includes benefits, recognition, appreciation, and compensation. Investing in employees through cross-training, promotion opportunities, and college credit reimbursement are smart ways to develop both skills and loyalty. The best reward system will recognize both employee performance, such as goal achievement, and specific behaviors, such as resolving complex customer issues.

Better Risk Management
Risk management that focuses on customer service management is critical for any organization’s success and profitability. Call center managers who regularly plan for future problems and initiate preventative measures will find themselves in a solid position to achieve their business objectives. Openly discussing potential issues will help management identify available resources, solutions, and operational responses, should the unexpected occur.

Risk management shouldn’t begin with an unexpected capital or personnel project, it should be incorporated into daily activities. In order for this to take place, call centers must have well-defined policies, processes, and organizational structures. This will help management supervise staff, monitor budgets, collect information, and administer human resources tasks. Regular strategic planning will enable organizations not only to reach monthly goals,but also to effectively manage change and maximize their staff’s potential.

Optimize Call Center Scheduling
Schedule adherence is actually one of the most important indicators of top agent productivity. Customer service agents can’t control the number of calls they receive or how long a phone call will take, but they can control their availability and their accessibility.

Most call center managers focus on 80% to 90% schedule adherence, but they fail to confirm agent performance against these metrics. Make it a point to continually track schedule adherence through specific KPI metrics such as the average idle, on-hold, and on-call times. A comprehensive call center software provider will offer statistical reports, call monitoring, and call recording features. Business call forwarding tools, such as percentage-based routing, skill based routing, and time-of-day routing all go a long way in ensuring that the right employees are receiving all incoming calls.

Finally, call center managers should monitor social media commentary (when applicable) in order to better respond to customer service complaints, identify opportunities for improvement, and better smanage product or service inquiries.

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Topics: Contact Center, Trends & Insights, Culture

Rob S.

Written by Rob S.