Contact Centre Performance Challenges and How to Fix Them

Illustration of people moving a mountains - concept of overcoming a challenge

Quick Overview

Running a contact centre and dealing with employee performance can seem like an uphill struggle as there are so many factors that can impact performance, including:

  1. Poor Communication and Alignment Between Managers and Agents
  2. Ineffective Performance Management
  3. Inadequate Training and Development

This article looks at the top performance challenges faced by contact centres, and how these can be fixed.

Top Performance Challenges in Contact Centres and How to Address Them

Knowing what the key factors that affect contact centre performance are, as well as knowing how to address them successfully, is so important for both employee experience and customer satisfaction.

Here are our panel of experts’ top 16 contact centre performance challenges and what can be done to fix them:

1. Poor Communication and Alignment Between Managers and Agents

One of the major challenges in contact centres is the lack of clear communication and alignment between managers and agents.

This can result in misunderstandings, demotivation, and decreased performance. To tackle this, regular team meetings should be implemented where managers can set expectations and provide clear communication channels and where agents can address concerns and seek support.

Using inaccurate or irrelevant metrics is another obstacle that can lead to misaligned goals and demotivated staff. To address this, identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with business objectives and customer expectations.

Continuously monitor and refine these metrics to reflect evolving customer needs and agent performance, offering training and support when required.

Empowering your agents with the right tools and knowledge to meet continuously changing customer needs is essential for both employee morale and customer satisfaction.

Outdated or inadequate contact centre technology poses a significant challenge, hindering productivity, extending call handling times, and frustrating agents and customers.

Contact centre leaders should ensure they are regularly researching into new technologies, such as AI and automation, to help keep up with customer demands, improve processes, and support their agents.

Contributed by: MaxContact

2. Ineffective Performance Management

Poor performance management can result in low employee morale and subpar customer experiences. Establish clear performance metrics, such as average handle time, first-call resolution, and customer satisfaction scores.

Establish clear performance metrics, such as average handle time, first-call resolution, and customer satisfaction scores.

Use these metrics to set realistic goals and track progress. Provide regular feedback and coaching to help employees improve and recognize high performers to encourage continued success.

Utilize performance data to identify areas for process improvement, training, or resource allocation.

3. Inadequate Training and Development

Frontline staff often lack proper training, leading to poor customer interactions and low job satisfaction.

To address this, invest in comprehensive training programmes that cover product knowledge, communication skills, and problem-solving.

Regularly update training materials to keep staff informed about new products, policies, or procedures. Implement ongoing development opportunities such as workshops, e-learning, or coaching to foster skill growth and career advancement.

4. High Employee Turnover

Jim Fleming at Sabio
Jim Fleming

Contact centres face high attrition rates due to job stress, low morale, and limited career growth. Reducing turnover starts with improved hiring processes that target candidates with the right attitude and aptitude.

Offer competitive compensation and benefits, and create a positive work environment through effective communication, employee engagement, and work–life balance. Establish clear career paths and provide regular feedback, recognition, and opportunities for growth.

Contributed by: Jim Fleming at Sabio

5. Changes Being Implemented With Little Agent Visibility

Agents can often find themselves faced with challenges that could have been avoided. Both performance and satisfaction suffer when customer-facing changes are introduced with little to no agent visibility.

New products, future projects and even tailoring new tech should all include agent input in the early stages of planning. Unless you work regularly with customers, it can be easy to overlook simple considerations which can have massive repercussions.

For example, a new ‘simplified’ billing format, which breaks down costs in a way that already regularly triggers customer queries.

Open and collaborative teamwork environments make sure agents are prepared for changes and valued for their insight early in project development. This minimizes the risk of introducing new performance issues that can be time-consuming and even costly to fix.

6. Low Employee Morale

Stuart Clarke at Odigo
Stuart Clarke

Burnout, high stress levels and turnover undermine teamwork and efficiency. Bringing meaning and a sense of belonging into the contact centre can help mitigate stress and motivate performance.

Problems and frustrations may be a natural part of life but they’re easier to rationalize when you work with a team or brand you can believe in.

No amount of social events or bonding exercises, however, will overcome neglected and cumbersome working processes.

When organizations take care of agents through streamlined systems and processes, acts of recognition, reward and responsibility for the ease of their daily activities, brand ambassadorship, not simply performance, is within reach.

Contributed by: Stuart Clarke at Odigo

If you are looking for tips to make sure your agents enjoy coming to work each day, read our article: 29 Ways to Boost Contact Centre Morale

7. Low Job Satisfaction

According to our recent survey, the main reasons for low agent satisfaction are job fit, compensation, lack of career path, stress and lack of recognition.

The main reason why agents stay are job fit (again), meaningful work, training & development opportunities and empowerment.

None of these factors can be transformed overnight, but you need a strategy for all of them. Getting people matched to the right job from the outset is one of the top things you can do to improve long-term retention.

Compensation is important but it is not the main reason why people stay. Satisfying work, personal development and empowerment are valued more than a slight salary increase.

Satisfying work, personal development and empowerment are valued more than a slight salary increase.

You can reduce stress levels for agents by planning their workload better. Good workforce management reduces burnout by accurately forecasting workload, then scheduling agents so that supply matches demand as often as possible.

8. Staff Shortages

Many contact centres have always struggled with understaffing, and the current skills and labour shortage is making matters worse.

What can you do about it?

Flexible working is proven to attract top talent, and considering reasonable requests for flex is now a UK legal requirement from the first day of employment. A good work environment has a positive impact on recruitment success.

This isn’t about providing a funky building, free lunches, and lots of bean bags. It’s about adopting the sort of corporate culture that makes companies win Great Place to Work awards.

Employees are attracted to companies that do more than pay lip service to trust, respect, fairness and reasonable workload.

Achieving Great Place to Work certification is not a trivial exercise, but even a seemingly small initiative like offering 30 minutes of wellbeing support every month boosts employee NPS scores.

Contributed by: injixo

9. Not Having a Holistic Approach to the Overall Employee Experience

Andrea Meyer at Centrical
Andrea Meyer

A holistic approach to the overall employee experience helps mitigate risk factors that lead to poor performance (and voluntary attrition). A few considerations:

Goal Transparency

Do agents have clarity into their goals and progress? Easily accessible, real-time performance management data gives insight into what agents need to do to deliver their metrics.

QM Processes

A connected quality assurance experience and continuous feedback loop boosts agent engagement and keeps both agents and managers aware of opportunity areas in the moment of need, enabling meaningful, actionable conversations and positively impacting performance.

Motivation and Engagement

If agents aren’t motivated, they aren’t engaged, and are probably not performing. Tying gamification to goals, such as performance and learning, helps motivate agents, boosting engagement and performance.

Contributed by: Andrea Meyer at Centrical

10. Performance Bottlenecks

Sometimes there are hard stops to performance improvements, and these often come from bottlenecks in the system.

You can’t magic extra colleagues out of thin air.

Even if you could, their professional skills and performance only get you so far when all your interactions come through the same inefficient routing system to agents switching between multiple screens and having to manually input every bit of data.

It’s crucial to identify the real limitations of the system. Maybe it’s not possible to eliminate them, but there may be ways to mitigate them or make them a priority for future contact centre development.

Contributed by: Stuart Clarke at Odigo

11. Real-Time Insights of Customer and Agent Experience

With the rise in hybrid and remote working, overseeing customer interactions and face-to-face communication between supervisors and agents is not always possible.

Software that uses AI technology to assess both the caller’s and the agent’s conversation and levels of engagement can provide real-time feedback based on human tone.

Traditionally, supervisors have been relying on basic call statistics from a contact centre platform and check-ins via virtual platforms, but more can be done to provide greater visibility and insights into performance and customer satisfaction.

Software that uses AI technology to assess both the caller’s and the agent’s conversation and levels of engagement can provide real-time feedback based on human tone.

As a result, agents and supervisors can get an instant read on the customer experience, how agents are performing and where extra support might be needed.

Agents can receive live coaching on how to manage a given situation, and real-time insights enable them to adapt their approach during calls to better meet the needs of the customer. Post-call engagement scores also help to identify areas for improvement.

Contributed by: Nigel Dunn at Jabra

12. Outdated Technology Hindering Performance

Thomas John at Five9
Thomas John

Outdated call centre technology can demotivate even the most productive and efficient agents.

Your call centre won’t be able to reach its productivity or performance goals if the technology makes it difficult for your agents to find the relevant customer information they need to deliver the experiences consumers expect today.

Agents working in multiple, disparate systems will continue to underperform and damage customer relationships.

The solution is simple: move your contact centre to the cloud. Cloud-based contact centres are integrated with other applications in a single agent desktop that gives a full historic and real-time view of the customer’s engagement with the organization.

The easier and more streamlined their work is, the less frustration technology causes them, allowing them to work at their full potential and deliver optimal contact centre performance.

Contributed by: Thomas John at Five9

For more information on what contact centre technologies that you should have, read our article: What Are the Key Call Centre Technologies?

13. Inefficient Call Routing

Long wait times and multiple transfers can lead to customer frustration. Enhance your contact centre’s performance by implementing intelligent call routing that directs calls to the right department and agents with the appropriate skill set.

Continuously analyse call patterns and adjust routing strategies to optimize resource allocation. Additionally, consider integrating self-service options or chatbots to handle routine enquiries and reduce call volumes.

14. Lack of Integration Between Systems

Disconnected systems can slow down agents and lead to a disjointed customer experience. Streamline operations by integrating your contact centre’s various tools, such as CRM, ticketing systems, and workforce management software.

Regularly evaluate and update your technology stack to maintain efficiency and stay competitive.

This enables agents to access all relevant customer information in one place, reducing handling time and improving issue resolution. Regularly evaluate and update your technology stack to maintain efficiency and stay competitive.

Contributed by: Jim Fleming at Sabio

15. Measuring Call Centre Performance

Phone and call interactions are the preferred channels of communication for customers. Jabra’s research shows that 76% who contact customer service do so over the phone.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for agents to determine if they are delivering high-quality audio and a good customer experience.

Contact centre headsets transcend their traditional role by acting as sensors that deliver critical data on audio quality and conversation performance. This shows whether the background noise, microphone position and voice quality are satisfactory prior to making a call.

Agents can also correct any issues during the call and receive conversation guidance, wrapping up every session with a post-call report. This enables agents and managers to monitor, measure and maintain customer satisfaction and high-quality call centre performance.

16. Noisy Contact Centre Environments

A headshot of Nigel Dunn
Nigel Dunn

A common challenge for contact centres is that they are typically noisy and busy environments. Background noise and poor speech clarity on calls can cause frustration for customers who are struggling to hear the conversation.

This can impact the customer and agent experience and have a negative effect on call centre performance.

Professional headsets with noise-cancelling technology and speech optimization are designed to enhance productivity and help workers maintain concentration, even in the most challenging environments.

Headsets with two or three high-quality microphones, noise-isolating earcups and advanced speaker technology optimise every spoken word, enabling agents to focus on conversations with ease, helping to enhance customer satisfaction.

Contributed by: Nigel Dunn at Jabra

For more great insights and advice from our panel of experts, read these articles next:

Author: Robyn Coppell
Reviewed by: Megan Jones

Published On: 19th Jun 2023 - Last modified: 12th Jun 2024
Read more about - Call Centre Management, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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