Call center leaders are always looking for ways to take their operations to the next level. But the question is: what do those next level call center improvement strategies look like for your business?
That all depends on the goals your contact center sets. Success will look different for every organization. It’s up to you to set those standards and provide the right support and motivation for your call center team to achieve them.
The first step is deciding where to focus your efforts and understand the KPIs you need to monitor. And that can be an undertaking, considering all the areas of the contact center that can affect performance. Below we’ll discuss some areas you can address when developing your call center improvement strategy.
1. Improve the Customer Journey
When it comes to customer experience, you first need to understand the customer journey with your call center. No doubt, this can be a huge undertaking, as each individual caller or online user will have their own habits, frustrations, and values.
The first step in tackling this monumental task is to create a series of customer personas. These personas should reflect the types of individuals who most often reach out to your contact center for support. Leveraging customer data will be key here — by gathering these insights, you’ll be able to pinpoint what keeps your customers engaged, and how you can keep them from going to your competitors.
Another way you can shape your ideal customer journey is to collect feedback directly from your customers. After-call surveys are a great way to achieve this. This approach lets you gather impressions and insights directly from the source, while the call center interaction is still fresh in the caller’s mind.
Lastly, you’ll want to regularly review and analyze your data. The contact center is a ripe field of information ready to harvest, and you don’t want to ignore the valuable insights that come with that. Your call center platform will give you plenty of quantitative data, such as abandonment rates and service levels, which you can compare against your qualitative data, which includes customer feedback and surveys.
2. Invest in the Right Contact Center Software
We hear a lot about reducing friction for customers in this industry. In practice, this simply means eliminating as many barriers as possible so they can achieve their goal without frustration. Easier said than done, right?
Fortunately, there’s a ton of great contact center software out there to help achieve a near-frictionless customer experience. Here are a few of our favorites:
Did you know that 44% of callers say they become annoyed or irritated when kept on hold for more than 5 minutes? If you’re experiencing high call volumes, this can become a huge problem, fast.
Call-back technology is a simple, yet powerful solution that offers your callers an alternative to waiting on hold. Not only that, but it helps flatten call spikes, so your agents won’t be overwhelmed with mounting call queues.
While you may be familiar with traditional IVR, you may not have met its modern counterpart. Web Call-Backs (formerly Visual IVR) can be easily installed on your website or mobile app to help connect online users to the voice channel. This solution can be customized with pre-call questions, which can be escalated to a live agent for a quicker resolution.
If your voice channel is in high demand, an AI-driven chatbot may be just what you need to alleviate the strain from your call center. While not as efficient as your friendly neighborhood agent, these are great for supporting your online users with basic queries, leaving the bigger fish for your call center team to handle.
3. Provide Self-Service Options
Did you know that 45% of companies that offer web or mobile self-service report an increase in site traffic and reduced phone inquiries? It’s no wonder that self-service technologies are on the rise in the call center industry. And while the voice channel is still the most popular for support, it’s important not to underestimate these solutions.
Modern AI-driven tools are gaining popularity with contact centers. From AI chatbots to Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to online knowledge bases, these tools are getting smarter with the ability to simulate human interaction. Still, these tools aren’t ready to handle fully complex queries — that’s where your highly trained agents come into play.
Call center employees love self-service tools because they help them stay focused on customer interactions. These solutions address basic queries and interactions, so agents can focus on bigger issues. It’s a great way to streamline operations and create a better experience for your employees as well as your callers.
4. Invest in Training and Onboarding
Contact center technology and self-service options are great to have. But don’t stop there — you’ll need to invest in your agents to achieve a well-rounded operation with strong, consistent performance.
First, audit the quality of service that your call center is currently offering. As a contact center manager, you might choose to listen in on some phone calls, review recordings, or even use a “mystery shopper” to get a sense of what’s working and what isn’t.
Once you have a grasp on the state of your call center services, you’ll want to reflect your findings in your onboarding and training. Agents today need to have a very strong grasp of the products or services they’re supporting callers with, as well as the proper skills to maintain control of the conversation.
Training isn’t just for new hires. In fact, the best call centers prioritize ongoing learning for their agents. Think of regular training sessions as a tune-up on their knowledge and skill set, so your employees can feel confident in their abilities when managing the phone lines. Keep them up to date on new policies, best customer support practices, adjustments to the call center script, and more.
Call center scripts should be considered living documents, as they’ll need to be regularly updated to align with new industry trends, department goals, and both agent and customer feedback.
5. Involve Your Agents in Strategic Planning
As a contact center leader, it’s easy to get caught up in high-level metrics and reports. But ignoring employee input is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Why? They’re on the ground level and experience customer interactions firsthand. They’ll be able to offer valuable insights into what’s working in your operation, and what isn’t.
Managers should check in with their agents on a regular basis and use each opportunity to find out what is working in the call center and what isn’t. But be warned: gathering this information and not doing anything with it can backfire and create disengaged employees.
6. Keep Employees Engaged and Informed
Of course, communication is a two-way street. You can’t expect your employees to offer up information and support your call center initiatives if they feel constantly left in the dark. In order to achieve this type of relationship, you need to show that you trust them.
Employee engagement can be an undertaking all on its own. Start by giving your agents autonomy in their work. With the right training and support, they should feel they have control over their daily work and feel empowered to make decisions. Keep them up to date on new initiatives and changes within the department so they aren’t blindsided by new announcements.
7. Establish KPIs and Monitor Them
That sounds like a no-brainer, right? Yet many contact centers struggle with setting proper benchmarks for their performance reporting. Earlier, we talked about the importance of gathering customer data and feedback and analyzing those trends regularly.
What are the most important goals for your call center to hit? You may set targets around Service Level Agreements, Abandonment Rates, First Call Resolution, or even Customer Satisfaction (CSat). Make sure that the KPIs you select align with your business objectives.