Effective Meeting Planning in the Call Centre

task list management concept

In today’s fast-paced work environment, it seems like every office worker’s calendar is packed with appointments.

Coordination is crucial, and as the world around us becomes increasingly complex, it requires even more attention. This holds true for customer service as well.

Team meetings, one-on-one discussions, and training sessions all need to be integrated into an already hectic daily routine. Planning meetings in the call centre can be a real challenge.

In this post, Stefan Nievelstein at injixo analyzes the impact of poor meeting planning on call centre operations and provides 5 tips on how to better integrate meetings into your employees’ daily routine.

The Challenge of Meeting Planning in the Call Centre

Imagine a typical day for one of your customer-facing employees. Depending on the day and time, they may not even have a moment to grab a cup of coffee.

Yet, no matter how busy the day may be, engaging in discussions with the team, having one-on-one conversations with the team leader, and attending training sessions are essential to ensure your employees continue to deliver the expected level of performance.

Time for meetings becomes an endeavor and must be “carved out” from other areas such as time on phone calls or from periods when the employee would normally take a break.

When it comes to team meetings, the challenge of tight schedules is multiplied by the number of team members. Finding a time when everyone is available? Nearly impossible. Moreover, the service level must also be maintained.

Let’s take a look at the specific impacts this can have.

Impacts on Workflow

  1. Ongoing customer conversations are rushed or even interrupted: Employees try to adhere to the scheduled meeting, regardless of whether they are in the middle of a conversation or not. This deprives them of the time and the opportunity to fully focus on the customer’s concerns. The customer experience suffers, and employees feel even more stress.
  2. Delays in processing customer inquiries or issues: If customer contacts are inadequately resolved or even interrupted, it inevitably leads to a decrease in First Contact Resolution (FCR). Customers experience frustration due to prolonged response times, impacting their satisfaction with the service provider.
  3. Increased workload for team members after meetings: When employees are pulled away from their tasks due to meetings, it disrupts their workflow and requires additional time to reorient themselves afterwards. Additionally, the time pressure mounts as employees rush to catch up on missed tasks, adding to their stress levels.

Impacts on Workforce Management

  1. Meetings increase shrinkage: While planned meetings can be accommodated fairly easily, unplanned meetings distort the shrinkage figures that workforce management relies on. Additionally, the possible “cognitive set-up time” required for employees to get back into the workflow after a meeting further impacts shrinkage.
  2. Integrating meetings increases planning complexity: Especially when relying on basic planning tools, scheduling meetings becomes a notable challenge.

Impacts on Employee Satisfaction

  1. Frustration due to last-minute schedule changes: Unexpected events can trigger stress and frustration often among team members. When impromptu meetings are called, it disrupts workflows, leads to stress, and negatively impacts job performance.
  2. Overload and stress due to time constraints: Employees want to do a good job, especially for the customer. However, limited time for customer interaction means increased pressure and stress levels as they try to meet customer expectations within a tighter timeframe.

5 Tips for Better Meeting Planning in the Call Centre

Tip 1: Clear Communication and Advance Notice

There are pleasant surprises and less pleasant ones. Short-notice meetings definitely fall into the latter category.

But even if the meeting was planned in advance, if it is not communicated transparently, it has the same effect.

Your employees are suddenly taken out of their workflow. This can lead to situations where they may have to reassure or even disappoint customers.

Provide Timely Notice

Plan meetings as early as possible in advance. This ensures that your employees have enough time to prepare and organize their tasks accordingly.

Clear and Transparent Communication

Why is the meeting taking place? Who needs to be present? Who can attend? What points will be discussed? What preparation is required from the participants?

These are all critical questions that should be proactively answered beforehand. Providing answers to these questions allows all participants to prepare and have clear expectations for the meeting.

Establish Feedback Channels

Communication should be a two-way street. Therefore, it’s important to establish feedback options. This could include a response to the email invitation, or creating a specific channel in the messenger platform.

By doing this, it provides your employees the opportunity to actively participate in the meeting planning process.

Benefits

  • Improved Time Management: Advance notice allows employees to plan their tasks effectively, enabling them to work efficiently without feeling rushed.
  • Transparency and Trust Are Strengthened: Open communication about meetings demonstrates that management values employees’ needs and challenges, fostering transparency and trust within the team.
  • Conflicts Are Avoided: If employees know in advance what is expected of them, potential conflicts or disagreements can be addressed proactively before they escalate.

What Can You Do?

Talk to the Operations Management, team leaders, and workforce planning to explore how meetings can be more effectively planned.

Determine optimal times, such as during less busy periods. Discuss how to ensure that all meeting participants are informed in a timely and comprehensive manner.

Tip 2: Focus on the Essentials

We’ve all sat in meetings wondering why we were there in the first place. In the end, we left with nothing except the realization that both work and personal time was once again wasted. However, it’s not as challenging as it seems to conduct productive meetings.

Time Limits

Time frames should be tight to ensure everyone is aware that there’s no time to waste. This means the meeting starts on time, regardless of whether everyone is present. And it ends on time, even if not everything was discussed.

Delegate Discussions

Discussions are important. However, the organizer has the responsibility to assess whether the meeting is the right setting, or if another appointment would be more appropriate.

Stick to the Agenda

The agenda was sent in advance. During the meeting, these points are adhered to. If someone wants to bring up an additional point, it can be done beforehand, but not during the meeting. If there is no agenda, the meeting is unnecessary.

Benefits

  • Increased Attention and Productivity: Shorter meetings keep participants engaged, leading to more productive discussions and better solutions.
  • Increased Participation Willingness: Employees are more inclined to actively participate in the meeting when they know it’s time-limited.
  • Employee Relief: A set meeting duration gives employees confidence about how much time they need to allocate for the meeting.

What Can You Do?

Make it clear to meeting organizers that participants’ time is valuable. Adhering to meeting times is a sign of respect. On the other hand, it’s also important to involve all participants. Rotating presenters in meetings ensures everyone contributes. Passing a ball around can also help.

Tip 3: Dare to Be More Flexible

In our business lives, we often operate on autopilot. This also applies to meetings. We’ve been conducting team meetings in the same way for years. But is that really effective? What flexible alternatives could there be?

Does It Have to Be a Meeting?

Direct conversation between people remains the most effective way to exchange information. However, in today’s busy work environment, the possibility of asynchronous communication should also be utilized.

We’re already accustomed to emails. They can be sufficient, especially when it’s just about informing a group of decisions.

The next level would be the messenger. Here, everyone can respond when it best fits into their workflow. But be careful, discussions can sometimes escalate in written communication, as many cues conveyed through facial expressions, gestures, and voice tone are lost.

Does Everyone Really Need to Be Present?

There’s nothing worse than a meeting with 20 people, when only two are required The other 18 are sitting around, getting bored, or simply wondering why they’re even in this meeting.

Amazon introduced the two-pizza rule. If two pizzas aren’t enough for the meeting attendees, the meeting is too large.

Could participants rotate as well? This has the advantage that the responsibility for information dissemination lies with the team.

Benefits

  • Promotion of Employee Satisfaction: By offering flexible options, you acknowledge the individual needs of employees. This is appreciated and contributes to increased employee satisfaction.
  • Reduction of Scheduling Conflicts: By largely avoiding rigid appointments, you reduce scheduling pressure on your employees and prevent conflicts in their calendars. This results in a harmonious work environment.
  • Conflict Resolution Capability: The self-organization of teams that comes with flexibility promotes members’ conflict resolution skills. Employees can make compromises and find solutions together when there are scheduling conflicts.

What Can You Do?

We understand that changes can come with some discomfort. Nevertheless, you should explore the possibilities of team self-organization and provide input where possible. Satisfied, productive, and motivated employees are the cornerstone of your call centre’s success.

Tip 4: Utilize Technology

There are countless technological options that can improve your meeting planning. Below, we’d like to highlight a small selection that might not immediately come to mind.

Video Conferencing Systems

Alright, this is obvious for those working with distributed teams. But even if you’re not working with remote teams, this technology has benefits. See the next point.

Recordings and Transcriptions

When using a video conferencing system like Google Meet, features like transcription and video recording are already available. This allows employees who couldn’t attend the meeting to still receive important information.

Messenger

Especially when it comes to flexibilizing meetings, messengers come into play. Asynchronous information exchange helps employees access information exactly when their time allows.

Meeting Planning Tools

Specialized tools help plan meetings more efficiently by considering the availability of participants and suggesting alternative dates. This saves time and minimizes planning conflicts.

Benefits

  • Improved Communication: Both digital communication and the ability to record meetings increase information flow in your company.
  • Better Documentation: Recording and transcribing meetings make it easier to track discussions and decisions made.
  • Increased Productivity: Well-implemented technology allows participants to focus on the content of the meeting rather than dealing with organizational details.

What Can You Do?

Learn about technological support. Technology providers would be happy to show you the added value they can offer your contact centre.

Tip 5: Regular Review and Adjustment

All the tips we’ve provided so far can bring improvements to your contact centre. However, it’s not a guarantee. That’s why you should regularly review the process with your team and see what worked and what didn’t.

Conduct Regular Retrospectives

Retrospectives are meetings where the team gathers to see how the process has changed since the last retrospective. What changes were made? What worked well? What didn’t work so well? What changes do you want to try in the next period?

It’s important that this meeting should provide a safe space for every employee to say what went well and, especially, what went poorly.

The result of the meeting should be a short list of adjustments to the meeting process that will be implemented in the next period.

Provide Other Feedback Channels

Certainly, not all team members will always be able to participate in the retrospective. For this reason, it’s worth providing additional feedback options.

This could be the good old suggestion box (perhaps in digital form). Or a (digital) board where employees can pin feedback as soon as they identify areas for improvement. Even a moderated messenger channel can work.

Benefits

  • Improvement of Efficiency: Continuously reviewing meetings reveals inefficiencies in planning and execution.
  • Increase in Employee Satisfaction: Employees participating in retrospectives shows that they can enact change themselves. This contributes to increased employee satisfaction.
  • Promotion of an Open Communication Culture: Transparently engaging with existing processes is an expression of an open communication culture. It encourages employees to give feedback and suggest improvements to meeting planning.

Conclusion

Meetings are necessary, yet they can disrupt the efficiency of your contact centre. It’s not only the workflow that’s affected, but also customer satisfaction can be compromised.

It’s time to question the current planning of meetings in contact centres. Are they even necessary, or are there other, more flexible ways to achieve the same goals? And if they are necessary, are they being conducted productively?

Are they truly scheduled at the times that are best for both employees and customers? Technology can help answer these questions and develop solutions. In any case, optimization is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of injixo – View the Original Article

For more information about injixo - visit the injixo Website

About injixo

injixo injixo is a product of InVision, a market leader in WFM for over 25 years. InVision built on its knowledge and experience to launch injixo as one of the first cloud workforce management (WFM) solutions for contact centers on the market back in 2011. And gaining the accolade of first to market with AI-based forecasting. Since then, the injixo user community has exploded. And will continue to innovate and push the boundaries of WFM.

Find out more about injixo

Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.

Author: injixo

Published On: 28th May 2024 - Last modified: 4th Jun 2024
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