Entrepreneur and CRM expert Bobby Darnell describes business development as a “contact sport.” He’s right! When it comes to contact center development, what Darnell means is that you must engage. You can’t passively improve a call center.
As leaders and managers, you need to get down and dirty with metrics, KPIs, and agent performance to run a successful contact center. Your call center demands your attention and careful planning if you want to see it grow in efficiency and revenue.
Call center development is an essential subset of any overall business development plan. When you develop your contact center, you create opportunities for more sales, customer satisfaction, and workplace efficiency.
These days, it’s easy for call center managers to get lost in the minutia of meeting daily targets, smoothing out peak call volumes, and handling agent turnover. But the bigger picture should be call center development for your staff and business. Here are four great call center development ideas to work on.
#1 Develop Your Contact Center Managerial Skills
When was the last time you received an assessment or completed a self-assessment? Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you can’t develop, too!
Managers need professional development goals to expand their effectiveness at work. This might look like taking an online course and learning to adapt your leadership style, researching new business models and processes, and honing communication skills with different stakeholders.
Authoritative, hands-off, influential, transactional, and employee-centric are five different types of leadership styles that support call center development in different ways.
But let’s linger on leadership style. Let’s say you take more of a hands-off approach — you trust your agents to do their job, so you don’t feel the need to micromanage. That style is ideal for experienced agents, but what if you inherit a new team of recruits? You’ll need to adopt a more influential or authoritative style without crossing the dark lines of micromanagement.
Revisit your leadership style and select professional goals to reach for every quarter. You might aim to learn more about innovative call center tech or take a course on diversity and inclusion. Speaking of call center tech, when was the last time you updated your stack?
#2 Audit Your Call Center Software and Tech Tools
Your current tech stack should be doing three things:
- Enhancing customer satisfaction and sales
- Providing data-driven insights
- Making life easier for agents by smoothing call spikes
If any of those items aren’t covered, it’s time to reassess and update your call center technology. Look at your financial reports to start. Are your sales dropping? Of course, this could be caused by market drivers and staffing issues, too.
Still, your call center software can do a lot more for sales than you think.
For example, Fonolo’s Voice Call-Backs make it easier to retain customers. How? Instead of turning them off with long hold times, they can schedule a conversation for a time that suits them and speak with an agent at another time. If they’re looking to upgrade their service or purchase a new product, you’ll still keep the sale.
Similarly, suppose customers need support with technical issues. In that case, a call-back solution will make them feel more self-sufficient and improve their likelihood of avoiding negative word-of-mouth — which is, unfortunately, more powerful in impact than positive word-of-mouth!Your customers demand autonomy, and Fonolo’s #VoiceCallBacks delivers. Our contact center tech helps you: reduce long hold times, lower telco costs, smooth peak volume, and maintain customer satisfaction. #CSat #CallCenterDevelopment Click To Tweet
Think about how your operations could improve and how tech can make it happen. For example, if you’ve recently acquired a multi-lingual market — perhaps you have customers in China and India now, in addition to the US. Why not upgrade your Visual IVR to have multi-lingual support, too?
Finally, if your chosen communication channel has remained phone and IVR for the last five years, conduct some audience research to see what channels your customers prefer to communicate with. If social media is in the mix, it’s time to add that to your strategy.
#3 Establish Call Center Metrics and Improve KPIs
Every call center leader has KPIs incentivizing and directing workflows and behaviors. But it can be a little bit too easy to skate by and just do the minimum once you meet those targets. Not exactly the growth mindset you’re looking for if you want to encourage growth and development in your call center. Business development isn’t just about meeting the same goals every quarter. Be sure to review your KPIs, and monitor and re-define your goals to keep your call center and your agents engaged and challenged.
Do you track KPIs that monitor both your call center performance and your agent performance? Here are a few helpful guidelines to make sure your KPIs promote and enhance your call center development.
Call center development KPIs
SLAs: Service-Level Agreements are your promise to your customers. Are you meeting them every quarter? You could revamp them to bring your customers even more value.
FCR: First-call resolution speaks to your call center’s efficiency. A solid FCR helps maintain and improve productivity and customer satisfaction. In addition, aiming toward increasing FCR rates each year or quarter will help you free up more agent time to help more customers or pursue job shadowing and training opportunities.
AHT: Similar to FCR, average handle time (AHT) points to our call center’s productivity. We’d even consider it an agent development KPI because it speaks to their comfort in closing calls. Developing this KPI helps you surpass customer service goals and foster a smooth operation.
Other KPIs you might examine for call center development include customer satisfaction score, abandonment rate, and peak-hour traffic.
Agent development KPIs
Sales per agent: This KPI touches both agent and call center development. Increased sales per agent speak to your agents’ training and comfort in closing sales. Additionally, it tracks your call center’s overall sales metrics and revenue.
NPS: Net promoter score is powerful stuff. Did you know that 77% of people are more likely to buy something if a friend recommends it? Net promoter score measures how likely potential customers would be to recommend your call center’s services or company’s products to their loved ones. It’s a revenue-boosting metric that sparks both agent and call center development in customer service and sales.
Other agent development KPIs you might like to track include customer satisfaction score and customer retention rate.
#4 Create a Development Plans for Agents
LinkedIn recently published a study that found 41% of employees will consider leaving their jobs in the next year. Of course, a call center leader might not be surprised by that — it’s nothing new in our line of work.
DID YOU KNOW?
Hiring rates for US companies decreased by 13% this year, making agent engagement and retention vital.
But if a trend towards employee attrition is growing in other industries, you can bet it will only worsen in the call center. A professional development plan can help mitigate the costly effects of employee churn.
One of the largest causes of call center agent attrition is a lack of opportunity or career advancement. Think of it this way: you’re a manager or executive in your call center. When you started as an agent or in another role, you had a loose plan to work up to your current position.
What if you never had the chance to advance? Surely, you’d leave or seek opportunities elsewhere. Yet, you’re not so different from your agents.
A professional development plan gives call center teams something to work toward and accomplish. This is a much better backdrop to monotonous days than the thought of doing the same thing forever and never advancing. A plan with clear milestones and timelines develops your team member’s skills, productivity, and engagement because it offers a path forward.
Promote agent growth and development
- Offer on-going training
- Provide opportunities for advancement
- Set up coaching, mentoring, and buddy systems.
- Use incentives and gamification
- Use role-playing and practice empathy
- Use technology like speech analytics
- Encourage feedback and open communication
Call center development will look different for each call center. You’ll base specific goals on existing KPIs, customer expectations, tech stacks, and budgets. To get you started, consider these elements in your call center development plan:
- Conduct a tech audit
- Develop agent professional goals and advancement plans
- Upgrade managerial skills
- Create a data-informed strategy
- Establish and improve your KPIs
Developing a call center strategy takes planning and perseverance. In our next blog, we’ll spell out a full call center development plan! Ready to take your call center development to the next level? Get your Voice Call-Back demo today!