Call centers are an important asset for companies — they are often the first line of defense for customer satisfaction. In 2015 alone, call centers accounted for tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States, a number that is expected to grow event more in 2016.
Fast growth in the sector has prompted call center managers to seek new ways to improve the efficiency of their resources. Most call centers invested in new technologies — from CRM software that coordinates the spread of information to advanced computer metrics designed to analyze agent performance during calls. These new call center technologies did allow for an increase in call volume; however, the upgrades failed to address the most important resource in the call center: the agents.As a call center manager, you must institute the best call center practices to attract the best clients, and provide the highest level of customer service. All of the latest technology in the industry will not allow you to achieve success if your agents don’t follow through with exceptional service. By modifying your existing practices, you can improve the quality of each call for your agents, callers and clients.
In 2016, the best call center practices will include:
1. More Effective Communication
At the center of best call center practices is constructive communication. Though most call centers focus on external communications with customers, improvements in internal communications will have a greater impact on your bottom line.
Improved communication occurs on two levels. First, you must provide your agents with alerts about potential product recalls or service outages that will affect call volume. Doing so prepares agents mentally and emotionally to handle a stream of challenging calls. Second, your staff needs real-time information about their performance for purposes of feedback and morale.
2. Consistent Feedback
Today’s employees, especially Millennials, are more driven by feedback than any other generation in history. They crave acknowledgment of their successes and a deep desire to know how they can improve their performance.
Annual or even quarterly evaluations don’t provide enough consistent feedback to satisfy the needs of your staff. When you share real-time performance data with your agents, you keep them informed about whether or not they’re achieving your standards, while creating a healthy sense of competition amongst agents to improve their numbers.
3. Morale Improvement
Every year call centers suffer from some of the highest turnover rates amongst American industries. Low wages and few benefits are contributing factors, but the chief factor that drives call center turnover is morale.
Your agents spend most of their day listening to and solving complaints from customers, which can create a sense of negativity. An easy way to combat the negativity is through praise of work well done. Sharing favorable reviews from callers or better than expected performance data improves your agents’ sense of worth, and motivates them to recreate that positive feeling again.
4. Shift in Metrics
All of the best call center practices utilize performance data to rate agent performance; however, it might be time for a change in the data that you use. For decades, the primary metrics were the length of the call and how well the agent stuck to the script. These metrics created a cold and robotic experience for callers and encouraged agents to rush through the calls as quickly as possible, at the expense of quality.
Traditional metrics have taken a backseat to newer models that focus on the percentage of complaints resolved in a single call, and customer satisfaction surveys. In the twenty-first century, the best call center practices use a combination of metrics, both objective and subjective, to evaluate agent performance.
5. Visualizing KPIs
Call center metrics and KPIs are essentially worthless if nobody can see them and respond to the results. By pushing data to desktops or digital signage with colorful easy-to-read graphics, agents and management can work together to meet their objectives more efficiently.
Triggers can be applied to KPIs to alert call center agents and managers when metrics are out of range. Metrics meeting or exceeding goals can be shown in green, KPIs close to falling out of range in yellow and those that need immediate attention in red. The color-coding transcends language barriers and the colors make it easy to quickly assess areas of concern in real time. Individual performance can be shown on desktops while center goals displayed on digital signage. This real-time performance management and data visualization motivate staff to hit their target goals and provide better service and productivity.
Dynamic digital signage compliments call center best practices by providing real-time agent performance, communication and alert notifications in ways that your agents can’t miss.
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