The Spring Clean: 85 Ways to Improve Your Contact Centre


washing-line-clean

Here are 85 tips to help you improve your contact centre.

1.    Revamp your call centre to improve mood levels

The environment agents work in can make a huge difference to their mood.

One section of our call centre was completely revamped with new colour schemes, desks and good monitors, and the mood levels went through the roof!

It is well proven that colour affect people’s mood… so why make your office dull and ugly?

With thanks to Stuart

[For more ideas, see 6 ways to brighten up your contact centre – Editor]

2.    Always find ways to say thank you to your agents

Always find ways to say thank you to the teams and individuals.

Also make sure you celebrate any good news, performance and customer feedback.

With thanks to Danny

3.    Always give positive feedback and mentoring to your agents

Always give positive feedback and mentoring to your agents, regardless of the verbatim from the customer.

As part of this, you should ask the agent to put themselves in the customer’s shoes.

With thanks to Maxine

4.    Give your agents the opportunity to discuss their feedback

Give your agents access to their performance and feedback from the previous day or week.

Then allow them time with a senior member of the team to discuss how they could improve. This approach also gives managers a regular opportunity to give out praise.

With thanks to Lucy

5.    Start the week with a team huddle so there are no nasty surprises

team-huddleStart the week with a team huddle.

This will help you to set your agents’ expectations so there are no nasty surprises about the workload later in the week.

With thanks to Julie

6.     Be socially available to your agents

A simple way to keep your agents motivated is to make sure that you are socially available to them.

Also remember to listen carefully when they do come to discuss something with you.

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

7.    Do not put time constraints on a customer care call

Do not put time constraints on a customer care call.

You cannot deliver great customer care on a clock watch, as every customer is an individual.

With thanks to Terri

8.    Encourage your agents to share their childhood memories

On quieter days, I encourage my agents share their favourite childhood memories and other personal things about themselves.

It does take time, but it helps everyone to learn things about each other and find things in common.

With thanks to Mohammed

9.    Get your staff to phone your competitors

staff-phoneGet your staff to phone your competitors.

This will help them to understand the journey your customers go through and how you differ from the competition.

With thanks to Nick   

10.    Manage behaviour to achieve performance goals

Never forget that managing performance is about managing behaviour to allow the team to achieve their optimal performance goals and objectives.

With thanks to Helene

11.    Use a STaK (Stats, Tone and Knowledge) programme

We use a STaK programme:

  • Stats – to keep agents in check with their ready time
  • Tone – assessed through call monitoring
  • Knowledge – from call monitoring, as well as monthly training and assessments

All of these are assessed on a bi-monthly basis – with a winner each time who receives a £100 reward and trophy for their desk.

With thanks to Nikki

12.     Make a special effort to encourage fun activities when it’s quiet

On quieter days, make a special effort to encourage fun activities.

This can help revive your call centre buzz and put a smile back on everyone’s faces.

With thanks to David

13.    Talk to the customer and listen to your team

You should always be listening to what your team is telling you, as well as talking to your customers about their experience.

Don’t just leave it to Marketing to tell you what improvements need to be made.

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

14.    Ask your team “If you had a magic wand what would you change?”

magic-wandAsk your team “If you had a magic wand what would you change in the contact centre?”

Review all the ideas, offer feedback and then implement the best ones.

With thanks to Simon

15.    Don’t turn your mobile apps into another silo

Don’t turn your mobile apps into another silo.

Query the contact centre live and give the customer the option to ‘connect now’ or make a call-back request.

With thanks to Mike Murphy, Interactive Intelligence

16.    Ask your customers if they would like to be contacted after a survey

We always add a question into our surveys asking if the customer would like to be contacted afterwards.

If they say yes, we do so.

With thanks to Dusica   

17.     Create a “Worth A Mention” wall to recognise good customer service

We have a WAM wall (Worth A Mention) in which agents compliment each other (anonymously) for handling situations well.

This helps agents recognise good customer service that is being delivered by their colleagues.

With thanks to Claire

18.    Share the vision of what the call centre is aiming to achieve

Share the vision of what the call centre is aiming to achieve.

Akin to the two men breaking rocks with a hammer all day:

Question to Man 1: What are you doing?
Answer: Smashing rocks, mate.
Same question to Man 2: What are you doing?
Answer: Helping to build a cathedral.

Apply this same stream of thought to your contact centre to help your agents understand their part in the bigger picture.

With thanks to Paul

19.    Make sure everyone understands the role of resource planning

To improve resource planning in your contact centre:

  • Include resource planners in recruitment process
  • Make sure everyone in the contact centre understands the role of resource planning
  • Get the resource planners to sit and work with the teams

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

20.     Each week, reflect on one thing that could have been improved on

thinkingAt team meetings, share and reflect on what worked well that week.

But also reflect on one thing that could have been improved on.

With thanks to Aileen

21.     Pass on the feedback to your staff

Don’t forget to pass on the feedback to your staff.

With thanks to Cathy

22.     Follow up unhappy customers via email

In our call centre, we follow up unhappy customers via email.

This helps them to see that we really do want to resolve their issues.

With thanks to Gabby

23.     Hand-write “Thank you” notes to team members

I hand-write “Thank you” notes to my team members who have a full year’s attendance.

I present them with the letter and a bottle of champagne at a small ceremony each year.

With thanks to Danny

24.    Ask yourself how much your app will benefit your customers

When developing mobile apps, ask yourself if they will really benefit the customer, or whether they will just cause additional frustration and effort.

Also make sure you have a clear strategy and consistent message.

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

25.     Removing AHT completely could encourage laziness

If you don’t include average handling time (AHT) in your metrics then certain staff may deliberately take too long to answer an enquiry.

With thanks to Abdul

26.     Average handling time should be managed through coaching

AHT)is not an appropriate metric for agents to measure themselves against.

Instead, AHT performance should be managed via regular agent-to-manager coaching sessions.

With thanks to Andy   

27.     Align customer language to the business

language-bubblesTo help improve management buy-in:

  • Align customer language to the business
  • Provide ‘simple’ reporting
  • Create clear ownership across the business
  • With each business owner define clear strategies for each demand type or channel

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

28.     Try using email for your post-call surveys

Rather than using an IVR for post-call surveys, we use email.

The email is sent out the day after the call and we get a good response rate.

With thanks to Heather

29.     Have a daily huddle to review performance

Start each day with a team huddle to review the previous day’s performance from the customer perspective.

You can also use this time to set expectations for the day to come.

With thanks to Andy   

30.     Involve front-line staff in everything you do

I believe in involving front-line staff in everything you do.

After all, they experience it day in and day out.

With thanks to Terri

31.    Help your customers find the expert that they need to talk to

find-puzzleIntroduce a self-serve option to help your customers seek and find the expert that they need to talk to.

With thanks to Mike Murphy, Interactive Intelligence

32.     Hold 3 buzz meetings every day

I hold 3 buzz meetings each day.

In the first, I set the scene and expectations for the day. In the second, I give updates on progress so far and any adjustments needed. Then in the third, I discuss how we did.

Everybody is then fully aware of their input to the overall goals.

With thanks to Danny

33.     Exploit your more economic channels

Offer better service level agreements (SLAs) on call answer for agents using the more efficient contact channels, for example, web chat.

In conjunction with this, offer lower SLAs for voice so you can exploit the more economic channels.

With thanks to Simon

34.     Make sure any team meetings take place first thing

Make sure any team meetings take place first thing.

I find that once our agents go live, it’s difficult to get them off again as a group.

With thanks to David

35.     Get non-customer-facing departments to spend time in the contact centre

Get your non-customer-facing departments to spend time in the contact centre.

This can help them to understand the impact on the customer of the processes they put in place and improve buy-in.

With thanks to Sue   

36.     Remember customer profiles when designing new platforms

Remember your different customer profiles when designing and using new platforms.

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

37.     Touch base with your agents every day

Touch base with your agents every day to convey operational performance from your dashboard, as well as to keep them in the loop of any ongoing changes.

With thanks to Simon   

38.     Get your staff to swap roles for an hour

We are encouraging the admin staff to sit in on calls for an hour, as well as our agents to sit in with the admin department, so that both sides understand each other’s pressures.

With thanks to David

39.     Have a social fund for monthly outings

piggy-bankOur company offers a social fund so that we can go on team outings every month.

These are organised across departments, which creates opportunities for improving cross-departmental working.

Our next company event is ‘Jurassic golf’ and everyone is looking forward to it.

With thanks to Helene

40.     Make sure HR always delivers the people drivers to the business

Make sure Human Resources (HR) always delivers the people drivers to the business.

A low SLA from HR is like no HR.

With thanks to Matthew   

41.     Constantly review customer feedback to improve your NPS

Constantly review customer feedback to pinpoint process improvements which could improve your NetPromoter Score (NPS).

With thanks to Heather

42.     Encourage problematic agents to perform by getting them to score your calls

If you have a new or problematic agent that is worth saving, consider turning the tables on them during a quality session so you take the call while they score you.

With thanks to Mike

43.     Make sure “Your call is important to us”

Make sure you really mean it when you say “Your call is important to us” by sorting out your WFM and staffing appropriately.

With thanks to Mike Murphy, Interactive Intelligence

44.     Have a ‘day in the life’ programme

Have a ‘day in the life’ programme where you get second-level support staff to sit in the service centre and listen to calls coming through.

This will give them an appreciation for the customer experience and types of calls coming in. It should help them to be more supportive with first-level staff.

With thanks to Cathy

45.     Reward your agents on the number of customer compliments received

compliments-boardWe have a “Compliments Inbox” where any customer compliments are sent in to.

At the end of each month, we give our agents a £3 voucher for every compliment they’ve received.

With thanks to Mohammed

46.    Get new starters to give feedback on the customer journey

Get new starters to take the customer journey and then feedback what they think.

With thanks to Simon

47.     Have a red flag escalation procedure to give priority

If a customer calls back and their query was closed but not resolved, make sure you have a red flag escalation procedure to make sure their query is given priority.

With thanks to Helene

48.     Ask your agents for feedback on any stressful or painful areas

Ask your agents for feedback on any stressful or painful areas for both themselves and the customers.

Then ask them for suggestions on ways that the call centre could improve these.

With thanks to Lucy

49.    Run an “employee of the quarter” competition

Run an “employee of the quarter” competition.

With thanks to Anne

50.     Create a bugs and ideas board

bug-boardCreate a bugs and ideas board.

These comments can then be discussed during team meetings.

With thanks to Simon

51.     Celebrate lots of small successes

One way to keep morale on the up in your contact centre is to celebrate lots of small successes.

You can always find a reason to celebrate something!

With thanks to Greg   

52.     Help out on the phones during busy times

As the operations manager, I find the team is much more responsive if I make myself not only approachable but also help out on the phones during busy times.

They are also more responsive to instructions and changes if they feel they have support from the top.

With thanks to Claire

53.     Only measure what is really important to you

Only measure what is really important to you.

Agents and managers can be overloaded with targets and data, which can easily result in paralysis by analysis!

With thanks to Nick

54.     Improve productivity by clearly defining your expectations for the role

You can help to improve productivity by clearly defining and communicating your expectations for the role, and by agreeing with your team how you will measure outcomes.

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

55.     Up-selling to the wrong customer is annoying

Up-selling to the wrong customer is annoying.

Make your up-sell processes more professional by automating, measuring and managing them.

With thanks to Mike Murphy, Interactive Intelligence

56.     Feed agents the fruits of their suggestions

We push all agent feedback back into our service areas, then feed the fruits of their suggestions forward to them again.

This keeps the agents engaged and interested in the customers, while we benefit from being able to constantly improve processes.

With thanks to Patsy

57.     Change the style of delivering messages to your team

Change the style of delivering messages to your team to ensure everyone understands.

We all have different learning styles, and as a business we should recognise this and do what we can to cater to our people and ultimately our customers.

With thanks to Danaka

58.     Hold a weekly customer commitment meeting

We hold a weekly customer commitment meeting with team representatives.

This focuses on ideas on how to make the customer’s journey more effective and more enjoyable, therefore highlighting our brand and culture in a positive way, as well as listening to customer and staff business-wide.

With thanks to Adele

59.     Communicate updates with an internal intranet messaging system

intranetWe have an internal intranet messaging system.

We use this to communicate with our agents about anything from social events to script changes. It also allows us to keep everyone in the loop without spending lots of time in team meetings.

With thanks to Shane

60.     Running voice auditions for your IVR helps to create ownership

We have recently run voice auditions for our IVR.

It went fantastically well and helped to create passion and ownership.

With thanks to Simon

61.     Create a “great moments” board that everyone can add to

Create a “great moments” board that everyone can add to.

Then share the good news at periodic meetings.

With thanks to Paul

62.     Involve front-line staff in process improvements

Involve front-line staff in all process improvements, design and testing.

With thanks to Greg   

63.     Nominate staff to form a “Continuous Improvement Team”

Nominate staff to form a “Continuous Improvement Team”.

Then harvest the information they gather from the front line to improve the customer experience.

With thanks to Cathy

64.     Provide your staff with copies of any customer feedback

When feedback is received from your customers – whether positive or negative – list out the statements and provide a copy to the staff.

Then ask how they can enhance the customer experience based on the feedback.

With thanks to Mike

65.     Make sure you have enough resources to say thank you

thank-you-balloonsWhen monitoring customer feedback, make sure you have enough resources to say thank you, as well as pick up outstanding actions.

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

66.     Introduce feedback boxes for your agents to leave anonymous comments

Introduce feedback boxes for your agents.

Place one inside the contact centre and one outside the door, so people can be anonymous if they wish to be.

With thanks to Simon

67.     Have monthly one-to-one meetings

Have monthly one-to-one meetings to ensure that any issues are identified early.

With thanks to Maxine

68.     Keep a register of all suggestions and feedback you receive

Keep a register of all suggestions and feedback you receive.

Then make sure you share the information with everyone, as well as the resulting actions.

With thanks to Simon

69.     Encourage staff to offer their ideas for improvements

idea-lightbulbsEncourage staff to offer their ideas for improvements for any area of their job.

This will help staff to see themselves as a solution to any problems.

With thanks to David

70.     Allow an agent to mark their own calls

Allow an agent to mark their own calls using specific questions and a score of 1-5.

Then allow them to explain how they got to the mark.

With thanks to Maxine

71.     Set expectations for the week ahead

Start the week with a huddle to get the team involved in what needs to be delivered and to set expectations for the week ahead.

With thanks to Julie   

72.     Be transparent with your customers and your staff

Be transparent with your customers and your staff.

With thanks to Nikki

73.     Build in a monthly bonus for all of your agents who hit their targets

We have built in a monthly bonus for all agents who hit their targets around quality control.

This means that everyone is being acknowledged each month for their input, rather than just celebrating one high performer.

With thanks to Sue

74.     Organise regular team-building exercises

teamsOrganise regular team-building exercises and games.

This promotes teamwork and makes the workplace fun!

With thanks to Christina  

75.     Always thank your customers for their feedback

Always thank your customers for their feedback, and for affording you the opportunity to improve your processes or customer service.

With thanks to Helene

76.     Recruit the right people for the right jobs

A simple way to reduce attrition is to recruit the right people for the right jobs.

Then once you have selected the right people, give them the freedom they need to do their job.

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

77.     Have meetings with your customers to find out what they think

We have meetings with our customers to find out what they think and what they want.

We also invite our agents to attend, so that they can understand more about the customers they are dealing with every day.

With thanks to Ian

78.     Give your agents your full attention when they want to talk to you

Stop typing and pay attention when your agents want to talk to you.

Don’t multi-task!

With thanks to Rupinder   

79.     Discuss any upcoming meetings with the Resource Planning team

Before scheduling in a team meeting, discuss it with the Resource Planning team.

You should also put a time limit on the meeting. For example, we try to have everyone back on the phones within 5 minutes.

With thanks to Danny

80.     Ask your agents for input so they feel more involved in team meetings

We hold daily buzz sessions before everyone goes on the phones.

At the end, I try to get them to give some input so that they feel more involved.

With thanks to Mohammed

81.     Launch contact centre qualifications to improve engagement

qualifications-road-We have just launched NVQs in our contact centre.

It is already improving engagement and knowledge, as well as skills and behaviours. It is also making our business environment seem more professional.

With thanks to Simon

82.     Get the team to design their own incentives

Get the team to design their own incentives.

This way they buy in to what needs to be achieved and are more focused.

With thanks to Sue   

83.     A staff-led ‘social team’ helps to encourage agent participation

We have a staff-led ‘social team’.

We find this helps to encourage participation in social events.

With thanks to David   

84.     Make sure your metrics support the customer journey

When selecting your contact centre metrics, ask yourself whether or not they support the customer journey and the agent’s ability to deliver it.

With thanks to Ian Morton, Budd

85.     Get senior management involved in a ‘back to the floor’ day

Do a ‘back to the floor’ day for senior managers.

It can really motivate the staff to see senior – and usually remote – managers spending some time on the floor doing the day job.

This can also be used as a springboard for development activities on customer service delivery.

With thanks to Tricia

What have you done recently to improve your contact centre?

Let us know in the box below.


1 Comment
  1. When you empathize with your customers, everyone wins. You will win your target customers’ loyalty and create a lasting relationship with them as you gain a better understanding of their needs and wants. By actively listening and engaging with customers, companies will see a greater ROI all around. In turn, customers will feel that their needs are important and validated by your brand experience.

    Tamasha 7 Nov at 7:54 pm
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