In our fast-paced world, first impressions matter and they have a big impact when dealing with customers. You only have one opportunity to leave a first impression and that is often created by your contact center.
Customers want an instant, reliable service that communicates with them on whatever channel or platform they choose, which means contact center productivity and efficiency need to be at peak performance or risk customer dissatisfaction. Whether you're running a small help desk or a large group of customer support agents, ensuring high-quality customer experiences must be at the very top of your list of priorities.
Developing a successful call center QA framework is paramount to improving customer experience and building brand loyalty. Contact center success and efficiency hinges on evaluating agent performance accurately and using that information to improve CX.
Here are 5 ways to increase the efficiency and productivity of your contact center to streamline customer experience.
1. Phone Traffic
Providing a personalized service to customers should heighten the overall phone call experience. To drive customer engagement and provide authoritative solutions, customers need to be routed to the correct person who can assist them - both in terms of knowledge about the type of question the caller in inquiring about as well as possessing the right authority to help the caller.
If customers are sent to the wrong department, and need to be redirected multiple times, traffic becomes congested and slows the whole call center down. Segmenting customers by using IVR options streamlines the process of matching the right customer to the right agent. This will improve overall customer satisfaction by pairing the customer with a skilled agent who is able to efficiently deal with their query.
2. Optimizing Team Efficiency
According to a study conducted by Aberdeen, contact center agents spent around 25% of their paid-time idle and not communicating with customers. The same study concluded that, with an agent utilization rate of 53% and an average pay of $13.3 per hour, it would cost an average contact center around $11,000 per agent in unnecessary yearly expenses.
According to Katherine Dougherty, MaidPro National Sales Director, some downtime is absolutely necessary for contact center agents to avoid burnout. Katherine further advises to:
- Monitor engagement and check it often
- Provide on-going training
- Commit to developing employee's skills
- Encourage open communication between team members and between supervisors and agents
- Boost morale by providing purpose and by setting quarterly goals
- Align metrics with goals and make them public so that every agent knows what the metrics are and why they’re important
3. Keep Agents Informed
Give agents a heads-up about who they are talking or chatting with by using software that provides agents with caller and account information. Giving agents information about the caller as early as possible can save time and cost per interaction instead of having the agent research through the CRM manually to find the contact after they’ve already connected.
4. A Good Script
A versatile call center script can contain the solution to many customer queries. It allows for calls to be handled faster and ensures that information is accurately explained to the customer.
However, it’s important to note that customers prefer calls that sound unscripted, unautomated, and which involve superior problem-solving skills through listening and interacting with the person on the other end. In a survey conducted in February 2018 by Software Advice, 78% of customers said their customer experience was improved when the customer service agent sounded like they're not reading from a script.
Software Advice compared their finding to the same study which was conducted in 2014. The results show that in 2018, customers respond better to calls that sound unscripted.
Every call center agent should have strong soft skills; empathy is an important tool for an agent to utilize in how they react and respond to customer's queries, without sounding robotic or as if they're reading from a script.
How much does it improve your experience if it doesn’t sound like the agent is reading from a script?
Image via Software Advice
5. Reducing Average Handle Time
For call center performance to improve, it first must be measured. While average handle time (AHT) is one metric that could be lowered to make it seem like contact center efficiency is improving, AHT shouldn't be the sole focus as reducing call quality and customer experience will overall hurt the company’s brand.
Here are some tips on how you can reduce AHT, without it impacting quality:
- Gathering as much information as possible at the start of the call
- Train agents by listening to calls with low AHT but high CX and build a script around what was done correctly on that call
- Identify calls with long pauses and a lot of silence in order to train agents in how to minimize these occurrences
- Create cheat sheets and simple marketing materials for agents to share if asked relevant questions
- Minimize the number of tabs and portals that agents have to use for a single call or written inquiry
Improving Your Contact Center
Boosting your contact center's efficiency isn't an overnight feat. It requires taking a good hard look at the metrics of your contact center and recognizing areas for improvement. By reevaluating your QA framework and gauging where your agents are lacking, you will be able to invest the time and resources needed to drastically improve your contact center efficiency.