While you may wish that your call center ran as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, it’s critical to remember that your customer service representatives are anything but machines! With humanity and live answering services come mistakes and occasional decreases in call center efficiency and productivity. However, there are ways to reduce the number of these mishaps and achieve your goal of a highly-functioning call center featuring steady, positive results and impressive commercial progress.
While some strategies to increase productivity stem from taking good care of your agents, others rely on the idea that you are willing to change the structure of your call center’s operations and implement changes that will improve both the customer’s and operator’s experience.
Some of the best ways that you can improve call center efficiency and productivity for your own business are below.
While you don’t have to be an analytical expert in order to discover your weak spots and areas for improvement, you should still dedicate yourself to collecting information from every call that comes through. Make sure that there are measures in place to determine when each call arrived, when it was answered, a map of its transfer, the category of the call, and the performance of the agent or agents who handled the call. Then, quickly interpret the data to the best of your ability and hold meetings in order to determine solutions and implement them as soon as possible.
2. Automation is key.
While some customers dislike too much automation, it’s important that you find a compromise between a level of automation which frustrates your customers and automation which can streamline your daily operations. While automated answering services can help to direct a call to the right representative and decrease transfers, it can also lead to customer dissatisfaction if overutilized. At the end of the day, many customers wish to speak to a human in order to resolve more complicated concerns. Consider implementing caller feedback surveys so that you can learn directly from your customers just how much automation is too much.
3. Introduce electronic support.
Not only will some customers prefer an online chat or email function to speaking on the phone, but utilizing this feature will also save your agents a great deal of time! The truth is that answers to many common customer questions can be easily obtained through self-service channels and more informative website information. Not only are customers happy to find the answer themselves, but your live agents will also remain free to answer more complicated inquiries which cannot be addressed online.
4. Make incentives available in order to encourage your agents to perform at their best.
Remember, your customer service agents aren’t robots—they are humans who respond well to positive reinforcement and kind, directed instruction. Working at a call center can be fun for these individuals if they are provided with entertaining incentives or friendly competitions with their coworkers. For example, you might want to consider delivering online reports to each of your agents which anonymously compares their data to that of their coworkers. This type of competition provides subtle incentive while minimizing workplace conflict. Also consider providing competitions or rewards for meeting certain goals within a month or making the most sales per week. The possibilities are endless!
5. Arrange your team with a favorable ratio of supervisors to call agents.
No matter how well-trained your employees are, there will always be customer concerns which require additional attention or the expertise of a supervisor. By ensuring that you employ enough supervisors to handle your team efficiently, you can keep calls fluid and quick while maintaining a beneficial atmosphere for continuous training and accountability. Plus, there’s nothing better than being able to provide an immediate solution for a displeased customer who asks to speak to a supervisor.
6. Make your standards known throughout the call center by pushing an appropriate mission statement and reminding your employees of the core standards supporting your business.
Educating your staff about your company’s mission allows them to better focus on specific objectives during their calls. Additionally, setting standards provides a baseline for call agent performance and helps to direct employees towards specific goals during each call. Once you determine your standards and mission statement, make them prominent! Remind employees of their importance by posting them throughout the call center or providing refreshers during regular meetings.
7. Don’t settle for scheduling training sessions only once or twice per year.
Instead, make sure that training and quality improvement has a constant presence in your call center workplace. Because of the way that the human brain naturally learns and retains information, details are quickly forgotten when too much information is condensed into only a couple of training sessions per year. Instead, encourage your agents to share information with one another when questions arise, and encourage your more experienced employees to train new recruits.
8. Consider outsourcing your inquiries in order to decrease company costs and increase the hours during each day that your customers can find support.
For example, by outsourcing some of your calls to other countries, you can effectively increase your availability by taking advantage of time zones. When your local staff is asleep, outsourcing allows you to have other agents available to answer basic questions or provide call-back numbers for any late-night callers. How’s that for the best in call center efficiency and productivity?
Remember that one of the most important ways you can begin to implement efficiency-increasing changes to your call center is to listen to your employees and customers. Provide a safe and comfortable space for feedback, and do not reward constructive criticism with ire. Instead, provide thanks for the feedback and hold meetings with the rest of your team in order to determine the best way to implement the necessary or appropriate changes.
Telephone communication is one designed for productivity, so make sure that you are implementing every strategy available to maximize the effects of this caller technology within your own operation. By utilizing the tips above and interacting beneficially with your callers and customers, you will be able to make drastic improvements to your call center efficiency and productivity while also increasing the satisfaction rates of your customers and your employees.