We asked some of our call centre colleagues to come up with a number of tips to improve call centre performance.
Read on to find out what they had to say…
Target for achievement
There’s a truism that you get what you reward… so reward what you want to get. Focus on what’s important to your organisation – hitting targets, encouraging repeat behaviours, creating an environment for self-development – mix intrinsic and extrinsic motivational techniques to light a fire in people rather than under them.
Segment customers using IVR options
Improve the routing of your IVR options to match the right customer to the right agent – this will undoubtedly improve customer satisfaction as the customer will be speaking to a skilled agent who is able to respond to their queries.
This will also improve agent job satisfaction in the knowledge that their customers have been provided with appropriate/helpful information and advice.
Share best practice
When a good call is identified, hold a group session to allow everyone to listen to it. This will reinforce the good behaviour in that individual and push others to demonstrate the same performance. Let them mark it against agreed criteria to determine whether it was a good call themselves – if you don’t have these criteria get them to create some.
Nemo Loans in Cardiff c/o Ann Marie Stagg
Empower agents and focus on business outcomes
Automatically routing calls to the right place is the norm, but are you applying the same principles to the information agents need to resolve complex calls efficiently? By ensuring that agents have the right information at the right time, customer experience will be improved and staff frustration reduced.
Supplied by Ken Reid of Rostrvm Solutions
Plan for flexible working success
When successful, home-working can lower costs, enhance employee morale and improve service quality. When it fails, however, it can create major motivational, communications and managerial issues. The key to success is often how well flexible working is planned and introduced. More often than not, at the heart of successful home-working projects is systematic planning, clear execution and effective communications. So be sure to lay down precise goals for employees and managers, clearly communicate what tasks employees need to perform, define how individuals and teams within a department should interact, and quantify expectations. Since 23 of the 47 staff in Canterbury City Council’s customer service operation started working from home, staff performance and productivity has improved by 15-20%, the number of calls handled by 30%, and both staff retention and staff motivation has increased.
Supplied by Paul Skinner, Sales Director, Macfarlane Telesystems
Make a point of identifying and getting know key people who have responsibility for areas outside your control but which impact on your ability to manage your call centre effectively. A quick chat over a cup of coffee or tea can achieve more than a formal meeting. Work with these stakeholders to increase their understanding of their impact on the call centre and your understanding of what’s driving them. Strong relationships give you influence, influence gives you the power to drive change and increases your ability to achieve objectives whether that’s reducing attrition, delivering customer service excellence or hitting and even exceeding sales targets.
Supplied by Janette Coulthard, Marketing & Commercial Director, 2gether Consulting
Re-examine the key performance metrics
Re-examine the key performance metrics that are used to judge the performance of the contact centre – average handling time might seem like the most important metric but it tells you nothing about the outcome of calls and other interactions. Smarter companies are measuring outcomes such as customer satisfaction levels, new business sales, net promoter scores, and life-time value of customers. This enables them to strike a balance between efficiency (the cost per interaction) and effectiveness (business outcome).
Improve the agent desktop
Take a look at the agent desktop. In the majority of cases this is a complex environment that leads to excessive agent training needs, increased levels of agent frustration and thus turn-over, increased average call handling times and, worst of all, customer frustration while they wait for the agent to resolve their issue. There are products on the market now that can revolutionise the agent desktop to make it more interaction-handling centric and remove the need to directly access business applications, and can even recommend what the agent should do next.
Supplied by Richard Snow, VP and Research Director, Ventana Research
What’s it doing now?
Sir Frances Chichester once said of a rather large cruiser, “Sure she’s pretty, but, if the engine gives out she’s a bit big to row. I’ll stick to the sails thank you.”
What are you looking for when you employ someone to run your WFM system? Given the myriad of systems available and the differing functionality it’s easy to ask for three years experience using WFM Apples or four years using Oranges but…
All too often we use these as stringent hiring criteria: ‘if they don’t know the system they obviously can’t do the job’. However, isn’t understanding the core functionality and theory behind the system more important?
Manually forecasting and applying this as a sanity check to the system output should be a key part of the WFM function, you cannot tell from the output if it’s doing it right, you need that manual check.
Someone who’s done a five-day vendors course isn’t a resource planner, you need to be looking for people who can do it manually, who can spot the errors.
And when it does break down (and it will), you need someone who can break out the manual Excel models and at least get you out of trouble.
Supplied by David Appleby, Resource Analyst, Healthcare Insurance Company
Make better use of external experts
Research has shown that on around 10 per cent of calls, advisors need the help of external experts to answer customer problems.
So make these people a part of your customer contact operation. Customer contact quality shouldn’t be inhibited by the physical walls of your contact centre building.
Anita Marsh, Marketing Manager, Aspect Software
Satisfy complex customer demands using unified communications
Implementing unified communications (UC) is likely to be a major trend in the contact centre space in 2009, in order to improve customer service and give fast, friendly answers to all questions. Unifying your communications and using one single interface enables agents to have an effective solution that eliminates barriers between various communication streams. In turn, this allows agents to spend less time searching for the correct information and more time providing a high standard of customer service. When purchasing your headsets make sure that the ones you buy today are future proof and will also work with the UC platform you may service your customer from tomorrow.
Contributed by Helle Ruggard, GN Netcom
Hiring the Wrong Call Centre Agent is the Root Cause of most Contact Centre Performance Issues.
It’s a Significant Drain on your Budget & Bottom Line, Customer Satisfaction Ratings and Sales Results. Every Failed Hire represents Wasted Dollars Down the Drain. Not to mention the Lowered Productivity, Poor Morale & Higher Absences associated with a Poor Job Fit.
Call Center Agent Pre-Employment Screening Software can be Highly-Predictive of an Individual’s Suitability for a particular Call Centre Agent Position.
The software screens out the Job Candidates who will burn out fast because they aren’t suited for the work – and identifies the people with the Personality/Job-Fit, Soft Skills, Motivation, and Work Ethic to be Top Call Centre Agents.
Using live agent training solutions, where staff can click a button to broadcast their desktop to a team leader/product specialist whilst also broadcasting the telephone call is a major help! Reduces staff churn as they can learn on the job, whilst also increasing customer service levels without the customer being aware of anything. Even if the team leader/product specialist has to take over the call, the agent is seeing & hearing everything which then prevents the situation occuring again.
An alternative mechanism to improve call centre performance is call avoidance. Detailed analysis of why customers are calling and the resultant root cause analysis can uncover many different issues, often outside of the control of the call centre, that are causing customers to call – broken back office processes, faulty batches of products, confusing or inaccurate information on documentation or website, etc, etc. Eliminating these avoidable calls allows agents to spend more time on the calls that are left, which hopefully generate more revenue or improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
There are several ways to do this analysis, but the most effective and rapidly maturing mechanism is speech analytics – mining the vast store of customer knowledge that is locked up in your call recordings, of which we listen to less than a small fraction of 1% on average – and even then we are usually listening to what the agent is doing and not what the customer is saying. Not only can speech analytics help identify the areas of concern, it can also provide the quantified data that can support putting the investment in to fix the issues.
Improving performance begins with providing the agents the proper training before a campaign goes live. Too many times companies will train customer service agents on solving specific cases, without providing enough background information. The more information and greater empowerment agents posses, the higher the service levels will be.
Encourage and promote friendly competition. This can be done between departments, offices, reps etc. Challenge another office working on a similar project. Set the criteria for the competition. Short “sprint” competitions keep things fresh. Double elimination formats can keep an office in the competition if they under perform once. Offer immediate prizes for the winning offices or reps. This can lead up to a grand prize for the overall winner. Excellent way to build camaraderie inside your team.
I would like to know more about pitching as a Customer interaciton agent for OCIS. An example,, Hi, Mr. David this is niko calling on behalf of Optus, How are you today? response by clients (good)Agent: well that’s great to hear…Note: since i am dialing to a post paid mobile of a customer, this is how we pitch, apart from your mobile do you have a home phone and internet….(Note: i have to sell home phone,on LAD, broadband, OW- wireless home phone,and internet, even net book with built in 3g internet – mini version of a laptop….
Great help and need more for business development managers
The key to improving the performance of a contact center is to reward your top performers in order to create a benchmark that fellow call center employees can strive to emulate or even surpass. Setting targets, encouraging positive behavior and creating an atmosphere that prizes self development will not have positive repercussions on the employees but will also impact the bottom line in a positive direction.
Thank you very much for your wonderful tipes.
Call center performance is a wide and complicated subject.A good performance is a win-win situation for all associated to it weather directly or indirectly.Good performance is a happy client,a happy management,happy employ and happy vendors and a happy tea stall near to it and a bit more happy it’s second party customers.
Helpful tips..Thanks a lot !!!
I manage a call centre where the sales agents speak very little English as most calls are made in their language. Needs tips to assist in motivating such a team.
Hi, I’ve found that sifting out the bad agents and fnding the root of the problem always helps with productivity and targets. If that doesn’t work and you have coached and tries your utmost best to help an agent then put in place a performance management that will push the agent to get to the level that they should be . I personally call this “The Fear Tactic”
1st of all i would like to thank you for your helpful tips
I need to know if there any tips t be followed in case you have huge drop in your calls and wants to improve it ?
how to increase the number of calls ?
2 forms to improve performance
1- free time
Since we work for the same product and every 10 calls we relieve pretty much a similar case
save on your files what you did on previous call so when the next call come through with the same issue we know how to handle it
2- Always look for additional info and try to be creative on giving Ideas