January is the time to clear that festive hangover and get to grips with the challenges of the coming year. We asked a panel of call centre professionals what they think call centres could do differently in 2011.
Say it loud and be proud “I’m a call centre worker!”
Stop whispering it at parties and let out the inner militant in you: when was the last time your friend preferred standing in a queue at a shop over sitting in front of the TV or BBC iPlayer waiting to be answered? We employ millions of people and raise millions every year for good causes – making our industry the basis for a ‘real career’ and not just a gap filler between jobs or after university.
Get your suppliers to take the risks with you
We may be slowly creeping out of recession but just how certain are your suppliers that the ‘next big thing’ will REALLY help your call centre? Why should the risk be all with you? Get your supplier to underwrite the business case.
Carl Adkins, Managing Director – Infinity CCS (www.infinityccs.com)
Find out what your customers think of you
Surveying your customers is always a good way of finding out how they feel about dealing with your organisation in 2011. You can encourage people to complete the survey by offering a prize for completed answers. Again, be sensitive about how you do this: offering a prize to somebody who is calling to register the fact they have just gone bankrupt will not go down very well.
Measure staff ‘happiness’
One way of retaining valuable workers is to measure their ‘happiness’. This is not done by means of a census in the way the government intends to do but rather by using account code features on UC software that gives a snapshot image of the agent’s view of the call (e.g. are they enjoying the experience? how do they think the call is progressing?) at any given time. Once the preserve of very sophisticated call centres, an unlimited number of these ‘codes’ can now be put onto incoming calls, although you don’t want to overburden the agent with too many questions, which would defeat the object.
Track efficiency between teams
As agents move from one shift to another, contact centre management software enables you to prioritise work, transfer it immediately to another agent starting their shift, postpone the enquiry, or generate an email response. For this, you need to set up SLAs (service level agreements) with particular response times that optimise staff and their availability.
Chris Harris, Managing Director for European Operations – Zeacom (www.zeacom.com)
2011 will be the year of open, transparent dealings and two-way dialogue with customers. Whether organisations like it or not, the way they deal with customers will be on show and open to comment through the advent of social media. People used to say that you’ll tell one person about a good transaction and 10 about a bad one; now it’s thousands.
At BT, we’re opening up new channels for customers to do business with us, including more “live chat” via our website so issues can be addressed there and then. We’re also inviting customer feedback on products and launches to make sure that we are giving our customers exactly what they want.
Tidy up your back office
For 2011 organisations should think outside the box when looking to improve business efficiency – for example by taking a look at areas of the business that may well be impacting contact centre call volumes. In particular, it would be worthwhile looking at back-office operations. Recent analysis of customer satisfaction issues undertaken by Verint revealed that 3 of the top 6 issues stem from back-office operations.
Claire Richardson – Director of Workforce Optimisation Solutions, Verint (www.verint.com)
Consider speech analytics
Given the current economic climate, the provision of customer service excellence remains the focus for contact centres in 2011. Any contact centre that claims to be customer centric in its approach to service needs to be looking at tools such as speech analytics, which can help to provide this all-important feedback to the business on where customers are experiencing difficulties and where changes in business process needs to be made.
Speech analytics has become the next step for contact centres looking to supplement their quality-monitoring solutions with more powerful technology.
Peter Fernando – Telemarking Manager, ASC Telecom (http://www.asctelecom.com)
Hire the right people
The rise of social media means that a customer interaction on ANY channel can lead to a brand disaster if not handled well. We need to get the right people, who understand the impact of their actions and words, and keep on training them to deliver the best service across all channels.
Richard Kenny, EMEA Manager at Plantronics (www.plantronics.com)
Analyse customer interactions
In 2011 organisations should really start to realise the benefits from customer interaction analytics as they take advantage of more timely multi-channel ‘voice of the customer’ insights. By deploying a more integrated strategy of text, speech and data analytics – along with valuable survey insights from customer feedback solutions – businesses will have access to much more valuable intelligence about their customers.
Helen Murray, Director of Consultancy – Verint (www.verint.com)
Empower your staff and adapt processes so that your people are able to do what is right for the customer. They talk to your customers every hour of every day. If you don’t trust them, they rightly won’t trust you.
Stick to your promises
Think back to the start of 2010, what were your resolutions back in January? What got achieved? What fell by the wayside? What did you promise staff you would do this year that hasn’t happened? There may be good reasons why it hasn’t happened, but do your people know why?
Don’t forget the basics
Get the basics working well consistently. We see lots of organisations looking for a piece of technology, the silver bullet that is going to solve all their problems. It doesn’t exist, and you won’t find it in 2011!
Keith Gait, Founder and Principal Consultant of Orchid Consulting (www.orchidconsulting.co.uk)
Optimise employee engagement
With the tough current economic climate set to continue next year, and in the face of high staff turnover, it’s now more important than ever for call centre managers to maximise the performance of their people in 2011 by optimising employee engagement.
Motivation schemes that offer staff incentives provide a focus for activity, either short or long term. They can also generate attention, interest and momentum, which may be lacking on a day-to-day basis.
Andy Philpott, Marketing Director at Edenred (www.edenred.com)
Optimise your website for mobile browsers
With the rise of smartphone and tablet usage, the mobile web is becoming the de facto communications channel for many consumers. Some organisations have reported a 100 percent month-on-month growth in website access from mobiles, and we’ll quickly see mobile devices replace PCs as the default web access tool within the next two years. At a minimum, organisations will need to make sure that their websites are fully optimised for mobile users.
Stuart Dorman, Head of Consulting – Sabio (www.sabio.co.uk)
Learn from industry best practice
Look at industry best practice by learning from others. Gather all of the contact centre awards case studies and then challenge your team to find out how can they adopt some of this as best practice. What bits can we build in today?
How are we going to win awards in 2011?
Kevin Telford, Strategy Director at Callcredit Marketing Solutions (www.callcredit.co.uk)
Has your call centre set any New Year resolutions? If so, why not share them below.