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
Form a team huddle
Organising team managers, team leaders and call centre agents to all come together to form a team huddle, on a daily basis, sets a great precedent for the team.
It encourages everyone to feel as if they are part of a strongly united group, before they commit their daily duties.
Involve all team members in such a huddle. So, organise everybody into one and allow your team to realise that you all share a common goal, to optimise call centre performance.
A large European road networking firm employ this strategy and say that a huddle can last for “half an hour sometimes”.
A representative of the business went on to mention that the company “have boards setup so you can actually record what everyone’s doing, just for accountability purposes.
Eliminate avoidable calls
Implementing a call avoidance system will provide you with detailed analysis of why customers are calling and the resultant root cause.
Common root causes will signify many different issues, which will often be out of the call centre’s control. However, your company should identify and act on the data that the call centre provides, to eliminate such root causes’, so that agents do not have to repeatedly answer the same query.
By doing so, your company has taken action to eliminate avoidable calls, which will allow agents to spend more time on the calls that are left. This helps to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
There are several ways to do find root causes, but the most effective and rapidly maturing mechanism is speech analytics. This involves listening in on customer-agent conversations and identifying widespread areas of concern.
Such a process also provides quantified data, which can support putting the investment in to fix the issues.
Supplied by Dave Lee