9 Proven Ways To Improve Call Center Productivity
Call center operators are only human, they can’t maintain a high-performance level every second of every hour of every day. Businesses, on the other hand, are all about maximizing efficiency and generating profit, all while providing excellent customer support 24/7. So how can we bridge the gap?
This is where call centers can help. They act as a mediator and information provider between a company and a customer. The customer’s experience during a call heavily influences their decision to either continue using a product or service or take their business elsewhere.
Measure call center productivity metrics
1. Average time in queue
This one is important as a gauge of how efficiently your agents are attending to customers’ needs. If the number is too high, instruct your agents to cut down on chit chat and focus only on those things that move the conversation forward.
2. First contact resolution
The better educated your agents are about your company’s product and protocols, the more likely they’ll be able to solve caller issues efficiently at the first point of contact. Whenever a caller needs to be transferred to another department or to an agent of higher rank, you risk frustrating the caller and wasting everyone’s time. Measuring the frequency with which caller problems are resolved by the first agent who picks up the phone will help you better understand your agents’ efficiency as a whole.
3. Average handle time
This metric measures the number of time agents spend on the phone with a single caller, beginning to end. This is perhaps the most straightforward way you can gauge your team’s efficiency in resolving customer issues — high average handle time is bad, low average hand time is good.
4. Average talk time
A bit more specific than average handle time, average talk time excludes those minutes a customer spends on hold. With this metric, you can get a sense of how well your agents are handling customer issues as individuals. Unlike average handle time, it doesn’t include the time an agent might have spent waiting for a manager to get back to them with an answer to some user-specific customer question.
Try to keep your workplace enjoyable but effective
You can increase the efficiency of your customer care agents by investing in their well-being. One great way to do this is to try and foster amicable relationships between your employees.
It doesn’t have to be difficult — instead of formal meetings that could decrease performance and efficiency, try informal ones. A simple cup of tea or coffee and a lovely meeting could pave the way towards increasing the overall productivity of a call center.
Don’t forget mystery shopping
Mystery shopping is a great way of finding out how your employees are doing when it comes to customer approach. You can find professional “shoppers” to set up a call with a few of your agents and take notes about their interactions. Don’t underestimate the value of this sort of external view. They can see your call center from a different perspective and share any valuable insights they may have gathered.
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Motivation is important
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Every call center and every agent needs a bit of motivation to be able to maintain productivity day in and day out. There are many ways to achieve the best possible level of agent efficiency. Talk to every agent individually to find out what type of incentive structure would work best for them.
Not everyone is interested in extra vacation days or having access to the latest gadgets. Some may prefer more flexible working hours or an entirely different benefit. Making them feel valued will not only help you get the best out of your team but also make your employees feel valued and help them get better sleep at night. Communication is key. So, discuss everything for the benefit of your employees and ultimately for your entire organization.
Training’s important even in a call center
A person who practices achieves better results. This rings true across many disciplines, including work at a call center. If you’re wondering how to increase the performance of your call center, the answer is: regular training.
The most important training is the very first one, which should be given as new agents are being hired.
We recommend preparing a manual or guide for the many potential situations your new agents will find themselves in. Preemptively providing solutions to common problems will save everyone time in the long run.
Such manual is not a “one time job“. It should be regularly reviewed and new examples added, perhaps with scenarios that occur in the meantime.
Speed is the key to customer satisfaction
Every customer, be it an existing or future one, wants their problems solved quickly. Regardless of what the call center focuses on or specializes in (sales, returns, etc), everything should be resolved as soon as possible.
Remember: agents should be well-trained and able to solve nearly every customer problem swiftly and effectively during the first call.
Call center software must be clear and simple
To make sure that your agents are always well-equipped to do their best work, set them up with state-of-the-art call center software.
The software will need to be very intuitive so that data can be found quickly and comfortably. Ideally, such software should be located in the cloud. This way, you’ll be able to access it from anywhere and at any time, which can make it a lot easier for your agents to stay on top of their work.
Think of your call center as a living organism
Every company is evolving. This is true in more ways than one when it comes to fully-staffed call centers. Evolution is good, though, as it often leads to improved performance over time. Be flexible and invest in your employees — you’ll be rewarded with a highly efficient and effective call center.
Reduce call center agent turnover
Like any team, your call center agents thrive off stability. Low agent turnover allows people to build cohesion over time and work better together. Your agents will get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and grow to understand how to complement each other in a way that maximizes productivity. So, what can you do to reduce turnover among your call center staff?
For one, you could offer incentives for loyalty and longevity. Developing a quarterly bonus and/or annual raise structure can entice agents to stay in the fold for longer. You could also make efforts to boost worker morale, such as holding out-of-office social gatherings and team-building exercises. The more comfortable workers feel comfortable around their colleagues, the more likely they’ll want to stick around. Lastly, you could consider scheduling short break periods into your agent’s shifts, as a way to combat employee burnout. A well-rested employee is not only going to be more productive when they’re on the clock, they’ll also be more satisfied with their work-life and want to keep working at your call center long-term.