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A successful call center is a competitive advantage. It is a key differentiator for many companies—above and beyond the products and services they offer, or even the revenue they generate. In fact, according to a 2019 Gartner report, customer experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined.

As for effective customer service in 2020, according to Adobe and Econsultancy, it’s all about customer journey management. “Today’s consumers expect easy, valuable experiences that are personalized to their individual wants and needs,” the report explains. This is a tremendous opportunity for Call Center Quality Assurance to be at the forefront of a movement towards an enhanced customer journey.

But how?

There are an abundance of challenges facing call center QA teams, agents, and managers.

What are the Biggest Call Center Challenges?

We’ve collected some of the most common challenges encountered by call center QA teams to offer solutions on how to overcome them.

Challenge #1 - Staffing, Morale, Absenteeism

Call center QA agent and team roles are demanding. Staff turnover can be high. Finding, hiring, and training the best people for the job takes time and money. And it is always a challenge to hire the right agents.

Call centers are often flat in structure, offering little to zero upward mobility for agents. This results in low morale and absenteeism, neither of which serves your customers well.

Call Center Staffing Solution

Without a path to greater success, it is difficult for agents to feel motivated to exceed goals or to improve. Providing this path incentivizes employees to stay, grow, and be a more effective voice for both your organization and your customers.

Consider giving ownership to call center agents. Empower them to set their own goals and self-score their interactions with customers. This is a non-threatening way to increase employee engagement while also improving the quality of your customer service.

When you engage your agents through self-scoring, it has long-lasting positive benefits. Engaged agents are more satisfied with their jobs, and they are:

  • 8 times more likely to stay with the firm beyond the first year
  • 16 times more likely to refer their friends
  • 3 times more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues.

Challenge #2 - Quality Monitoring

It is common for call center monitoring teams to be overwhelmed by the abundance of data to collect, with so many calls and an ever-increasing number of customer touchpoints. The problem is that many call centers are stuck in the past. They are using outdated systems and metrics to handle their QA monitoring.

The problem is that when these ways of handling QA don’t line up with today’s customer expectations, it can result in poor customer service experiences and lost sales. QA monitoring gaps and delays can negatively impact agent training, workflow, and productivity.

Call Center QA Solution

What is unknown cannot be measured and therefore cannot be improved. The first step to really good QA monitoring is to understand your agents and your customer experience.

Here are a few QA customer service best practices to get you started.

  • Focus on the important elements of every call: tone of voice, active listening, appropriate language, and effective questioning
  • Demonstrate emotional intelligence skills: anticipate customer requests, educate customers, build rapport, and provide emotional support.
  • Track the right call center KPIS: both quantitative and non-quantitative performance factors.
    • Business critical metrics: agent absenteeism, agent turnover, and schedule adherence
    • Customer critical metrics: average time in queue, average abandonment rate, average handle time, and first contact resolution
    • Process critical metrics: contact quality management score, measuring product and technical knowledge, and communication skills

From there, you must implement a thorough quality scoring system. This will help you monitor, measure, and manage all aspects of call center activity and customer touchpoints. The key is to empower your agents with the data they need to encourage customer-centric behaviors.

Challenge #3 – Relevance

With fast-paced growth in digital marketing, online shopping, artificial intelligence, and chatbots, some call center teams are struggling to maintain their relevance. The truth is that as technology advances, there exists an even greater need for consumers to feel an emotional bond with a company. This level of deep connection is what will continue to set companies apart.

McKinsey reported that 70% of the customer journey is dictated by how the customer feels they are being treated. It is call center employees, often the first to speak to customers, who have the very unique opportunity to create an emotional connection with customers.

Relevant Solution

First, you need to focus on getting to know your customer on a deeper level than ever before. Put a face to your customer—including their demographics and expectations—so you can improve the quality of every interaction by treating your customers like people.

Next, you need to focus on enhancing call center agents’ emotional intelligence. This means moving your agents away from classic and robotic customer service and implementing emotionally intelligent tactics. For example, your agents could add in storytelling during calls, surprise customers with upgrades, or reward loyalty.

Finally, engage where and how your customers want, and watch results soar. If you want to be relevant, get on the channels that your customers care about most—email, social media, live chat, and blog.

Check out this incredible resource to develop a branded omnichannel strategy for your customer service team. 

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Challenge #4 - Canned Replies

The secret is out. Customers know when agents are reading off of scripts and they don’t appreciate it. Scripts are the easy way out, but they can easily sound robotic

To hit the right note with a script is not easy and can actually anger your customers instead of helping them. Creating an emotional connection is what’s necessary.

Call Center Script Solution

If you have to read from a script, make sure you do it well. Create a well-crafted script that is designed to minimize human error, encourage consistency, develop agent confidence, and improve customer service.

Here are 15 call center script best practices to help you get it right.

  1. Hire the right agents
  2. Get to the point quickly and efficiently
  3. Train agents when to follow the script, and when not to
  4. Make the script sound as natural as possible
  5. Don’t encourage agents to read it word-for-word
  6. Make your scripts personal
  7. Drop the false empathy
  8. Use your script as a knowledge resource
  9. Keep things simple
  10. Spell out the basics (greetings, address, introduction, CTA, etc.)
  11. Write our multiple scenarios
  12. Apologies are not enough
  13. Allow for growth
  14. Review the competition
  15. Track for success

But we also strongly suggest you get to a point where scripts are the exception, not the rule. To do this, spend time developing agent soft skills. These soft skills include active listening, using the right tone, and taking a problem-solving approach.

When you train your agents to have the skills and knowledge to handle whatever customer situation they face, that is what will truly move the needle on call center performance. Consider trying out some of these call center training games to take your employee training to the next level.

Challenge #5 - Listening more and talking less

Jumping right into a script may seem like the right thing for a call center agent to do, especially when trying to quickly get to a resolution. But not everything can be answered in a script.

Listening is the key to understanding, and something most agents fail to do well. Agents often lack the ability to discuss complex information, learn from customers, and present the company’s core message in a meaningful and heartfelt way.

Active Listening Solution

Make sure you have proper onboarding set up as well as ongoing training for your agents in regards to customer service. You can also hold specific trainings that develop listening skills, which are an essential part of a successful call center customer experience.

When teaching soft skills such as active listening, just be sure to use a blended learning model. You need to offer a mix of self-study and live training to help your agents more quickly gain a deep understanding of the concept and to be able to practice it in live sessions.

Another way to demonstrate listening is to ask customers for their feedback. You need to open up a dialogue with your customers about what they like and don’t like about your brand, call center, and customer service representatives. You can do this by offering a short survey after every interaction or ending every call with a question about how it went. The more you can show you’re listening, the better.

It’s really about building emotional connections with customers. Customers want to interact with and purchase from brands that share their values and care about what they care about. And listening to, really hearing, customer needs is the first, perhaps the most important, step in reaching this goal.

Challenge #6 - Tone of Voice for Call Center Agents

Call center agents have only their voice to represent them in interactions with customers. The tone of voice used is the first impression customers have of agents and of the company they represent. If the agent is bored, rushed, or annoyed, that will come across in their tone of voice.

Tone of Voice Solution

As with the development of listening skills, specific training is needed regarding agent tone of voice. And it starts with training in call center emotional intelligence.

  • Put your agents in simulations to gauge their reactions to various customer situations and take note of their tone of voice.
  • Agents rarely deal with happy customers and that frustration can sometimes create a feedback negative feedback loop. That’s why it’s important to teach your agents how to deal with stress and irritation, helping them come up with strategies to better handle pressure, tension, and anxiety.
  • Identify patterns in your agent’s tone of voice that can be nurtured or curbed. Then train regularly to ingrain positive actions.

Here again, getting off script will help. Agents sticking directly to reading off the scripts tend to speak with monotone inflections. Instead, agents trained to connect with customers by asking them how they’re doing or by sharing something about themselves, are empowered to be more empathetic, natural, and positive in their tone of voice.

Challenge #7: Workflow Optimization

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the call center. Every month, more than six in ten Americans reach out to customer service for help (Statista). Trying to keep up with demand while improving productivity and optimizing the workflow is not easy. In fact, accurately forecasting staffing needs and handling call volume is a huge struggle.

Worse yet, 74% of call center agents are at risk for burnout. And 30% of those individuals are at severe risk of burnout.

Workflow Optimization Solution

To ultimately handle your customer’s questions and support tickets, you need to know how to optimize your call center workflow. What this means is effective management of your customer support queue for positive results. There are a number of ways you can do this.

  • Develop an Organizational Chart: A proper organizational chart will help you determine who is responsible for what, what tools are at their disposal, and how customer service inquiries are assigned.
  • Prioritize Support: Depending on your team, you need to decide how you’ll answer support tickets—either on a first-come, first-serve basis or you can prioritize support based on channel, task, and customer.
  • Categorize Inquiries: Segment your customer service requests by type and category. For example: marketing, development, sales, IT, etc.
  • Enable Self-Service: Provide your customers with answers to their most common questions by creating a knowledge database they can use themselves.
  • Analyze Data: Set KPIs that you’ll use to track productivity and agent performance to see if your workflow is working and how to improve.
  • Test Different Approaches: There’s no one-size-fits-all call center workflow. Constantly ask for feedback from your agents, customers, and management to improve efficiency.

Challenge #8: High Customer Expectations

Customer expectations are higher than ever.

  • 82% of U.S. and 74% of non-US customers want more human interaction from businesses now and in the future (PwC).
  • 84% of consumers consider customer service to be a key factor for purchasing decisions (Zendesk).
  • If you don’t provide customers with the experience they want and expect, they’ll choose to do business with someone else. Nine out of ten customers will stop purchasing from a company after three poor customer service experiences. (HubSpot).

Customer Experience Solution

The key to high-quality customer experiences is connecting with your customer at every touchpoint. Every interaction needs to focus on providing exceptional customer service.

In particular, there are seven steps to improve customer experience in your call center.

  1. Get to Know Your Customer: Create a persona for your typical call center customer, to communicate better, and treat them like a real person (based on their demographics and expectations).
  2. Pay Attention to the Customer Journey: Interact with your clients in a unique way along every step in their journey, personalizing the interaction to their needs.
  3. Develop Emotional Connections: Move away from robotic customer service and implement emotionally intelligent tactics to improve customer experience.
  4. Decrease Customer Effort: Provide one-click checkouts, instant communication, next-day shipping, and fast & efficient service. Simplicity is best.
  5. Ask for and Implement Feedback: Ask your customer what they like and don’t like about your brand and your customer service and incorporate their ideas.
  6. Train Your Agents: Your call center agents are invaluable. Train them to handle customers exceptionally well.
  7. Offer Omnichannel Support: Engage with your customers when and how they want—social media, email, live chat, blog, etc.

Challenge #9: Reducing Bad Customer Experiences

One bad customer experience can have a lasting negative impact on your brand. In fact, 62 percent of customers say that they’ll share bad experiences with others, according to Salesforce. This negative word of mouth sharing can easily ruin a good reputation.

Negative Customer Experiences Solution

Avoiding negative customer experiences means first evaluating how successful you are at helping customers. You need to be able to take a step back and look at the big picture of your contact center to improve customer experience operationally, tactically, and strategically.

A good place to start is to review your NPS (Net Promoter Score). This is the gold standard for measuring customer experience and brand loyalty. You can utilize your score to tell you how well your agents are performing, on which channels you excel, how often you resolve issues, and if your customers are satisfied.

From there, craft a strategic QA framework to analyze, interpret, and implement actions based on customer experience data. To do this:

  • Make measuring QA a part of your daily operations. You need to be able to determine the key drivers that directly influence negative or positive customer experience.
  • Routinely listen to customer calls to evaluate how your agents are achieving the required customer experience outcomes.
  • Engage with Detractors and Passives to see what you need to do to better meet their needs and solve their issues.
  • Identify poor performing agents and provide regular training, coaching, and advising to improve agent skills.
  • Remove silos that require customers to move from one department to another to get the answers and help they need.

Challenge #10: Poor Contact Center Reporting & Analytics Software

Call centers need data, tools, and information about agent performance and customer satisfaction. Reports and analytic tools to get accurate and consistent information about what is happening within the contact center is imperative.

For some teams, there’s a serious lack of helpful call center metrics designed to actually improve call center operations. These contact centers might not be able to identify patterns and trends or reveal agent performance and customer insights.

Contact Center Reporting Solution

To optimize your contact center’s performance, you need to be able to gather and analyze data by implementing the right tools to capture relevant KPIs. There are a variety of approaches you can take to this, and it all depends on the specific needs of your contact center.

Popular contact center data and reporting approaches include using speech analytics, text analytics, cross-channel analytics, predictive analytics, and performance analytics. However, the most efficient and effective way to gain valuable insight into your contact center is through quality assurance reporting that considers the “human element.”

Scorebuddy scorecards produce call center data focused on agent performance. You gain both quantitative and qualitative metrics and data to achieve better performance more consistently.

Far better than a spreadsheet, Scorebuddy scorecards can help you shorten the time for QA improvement by:

  • Addressing the source of your contact center problems via root cause [gap] analysis.
  • Providing precise feedback on your contact center via benchmark performance data and QA outcomes.
  • Putting your agents at the center of your QA data, focusing on their strengths and weaknesses to fill in training gaps.

By arming your contact center team with the right data, analytics, QA intelligence, and reporting, you can uncover patterns, highlight trends, and make educated business decisions designed to improve outcomes.

Summary: Overcome Call Center Challenges with a Quality Assurance Tool

Only in the call center can you truly serve and better predict your customers’ needs. The key is to provide incredible customer experiences at every touchpoint. And while this isn’t easy, when you put the right processes, procedures, and tools in place, it is possible.

Call center monitoring is how you monitor, measure, and manage all of these moments between call center professionals and customers. Yes, there are many challenges in this process, but with thoughtful goal-setting and agent input, weights and values can be assigned so that call center QA is scored and quantified in a way that leads to growth and greater success. View these common call center QA team challenges as opportunities to get things right.

Drop us a line if you’re interested in learning more about how scorecards can help improve the customer experience and enhance your organization.

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Tags: Customer Experience & Service, Call Center Management