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3 call center improvement strategies that boost efficiency

Call center agents must multitask like never before in this era of omnichannel service. How to increase efficiency with tech while relieving some of the load on the people.

Contact centers constantly see new challenges, while also trying to improve agent efficiency and increase customer...

satisfaction. These can feel like conflicting goals. But by using call center improvement strategies, such as reducing agent workload, improving the technology used and enhancing representative skills, contact centers can solve problems more quickly and handle high call volume -- all while satisfying customers.

Reduce workload

Reducing workload is not effective unless the contact center remains customer-focused. Offering diverse methods of self-service enables customers to resolve their problems through the channel of their choice.

For example, interactive voice response (IVR) enables customers to self-serve when they have simple questions, such as a balance inquiry. With the fine-tuning of speech recognition, IVR can address a wider array of customer needs. A customer-friendly IVR must have a limited layer of menus and clear terminology.

Web self-service and mobile apps have grown tremendously over the past few years and can give customers a personalized service experience. The mobile app must have simple navigation, search tools and a UI that is responsive across different kinds of devices.

When customer self-service is not an option, it is important for contact centers to aim for first-contact resolution -- a major driver of customer satisfaction. This strategy reduces the number of customers calling multiple times to resolve an issue but also requires addressing the root cause of a customer complaint so the customer will not need to reach out about the same issue in the future.

call center agents
Call center improvement strategies need to improve agent skills, while also keeping customer experience in mind.

Improve technology

Well-implemented technology will improve contact center efficiency and agent utilization, which also tends to improve the customer experience (CX). While the sheer number of technological solutions and vendors can be overwhelming, these four call center improvement strategies are particularly effective:

  1. Contact routing software: Contact routing software, formerly called automatic call distribution, assigns specific contacts to specific agents in an automated manner, regardless of channel. This software improves agent utilization as a result of the work being moved to appropriately skilled agents instead of moving agents to different types of contacts.
  2. Workforce management software: Workforce management software analyzes historical information and uses specific parameters to project staffing needs to handle the workload going forward. For contact centers with more than 50 agents, workforce management shows financial returns as a result of improved staffing and agent utilization.
  3. Well-implemented technology will improve contact center efficiency and agent utilization, which also tends to improve the customer experience.
    Knowledge management software: Knowledge management provides a single repository of information that is easily accessible to contact center agents. Historically, agents have had to go to many locations, both electronic and paper, to find information to answer customer inquiries. An effective knowledge management system has user-friendly search capabilities and supporting processes to assure the information in the system is current and accurate.
  4. Speech and text analytics software: Speech and text analytics software analyzes spoken or written interactions and ensures agents adhere to specific policy procedures. It can also extract a sample of calls where customers use a specific keyword (e.g., I want to cancel) or are showing a specific emotion (e.g., frustration) so additional analysis can be performed to determine the root cause of these types of communications.

Enhance agent skills

Many times, speaking with a live agent is the last resort for a customer when all other channels of communication do not work. However, once customers reach an agent, they should not have to use another channel.

Training is critical to ensure agents understand the products and services they offer, policies and procedures, as well as have effective and appropriate communication skills. The training must engage the agents and be presented in an effective form so the information is absorbed and is well-understood.

qualities of good call center agents
Hire call center agents that exude these qualities.

Additionally, a quality control program can monitor whether agents perform tasks properly, use systems in an effective manner and provide outstanding CX. Voice and screen recordings and customer satisfaction scores can be used to analyze agent performance. Meanwhile, a strong feedback process is needed to communicate to agents what needs to be improved.

This was last published in December 2018

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