15 Call Center Best Practices for Top-Notch Customer Service

min read
15 Call Center Best Practices for Top-Notch Customer Service

As a call center manager, one of your top priorities is helping your team improve the customer experience. That requires making sure your contact center is super-efficient, and your agents have everything they need to deliver their A-game — even when things get hectic, and customers are especially challenging.

Adopting call center best practices can help you on all of these fronts. Call center best practices are widely accepted, industry-tested procedures or strategies that drive operational efficiency. They empower call center agents to perform at their best, thereby elevating the customer experience. 

Here’s a look at 15 customer service call center best practices you’ll want to apply if you aren’t doing so already:

1. Set Goals

You’ve no doubt set some type of performance goals for your call center agents. But what about your call center operations? Establishing clear and ambitious — but also, attainable — goals for your whole operation can help your entire team understand how their efforts are contributing to the “big picture” (and the bottom line). That can motivate your agents to focus more on elevating their individual performance in their day-to-day work. 

For example, if improving the customer experience is your call center’s primary focus, you might want to set first call resolution as a broad goal. You can then set ascending weekly or monthly goals for agents with key performance indicators for first call resolution. Holistic goal-setting provides a long-term vision for your agents to follow confidently.

2. Emphasize the Need for Clear Communication with Customers

Customers making phone calls to call centers typically want to experience two things: a quick, efficient response and satisfactory issue resolution. To be effective at providing both, agents need to be clear and concise when interacting with customers — and know how to make those customers feel important and valued as well.

Good communication is an interpersonal ability that the best agents know how to use to great effect. Providing training for all agents to master this vital soft skill should be one of your top call center training best practices. 

3. Promote Empathy with Your Agents

Empathy is the customer service center agent’s secret sauce. It is the soft skill that, when combined with stellar communication (see #2 above), almost guarantees customer satisfaction. If your agents understand the customer and their feelings and can put themselves in the customer’s “shoes,” they will be well on their way toward creating a standout customer experience. 

You can help your agents understand the value of demonstrating empathy by fostering a customer-centric, service-oriented mentality within the ranks of the call center. Underscore the importance of patience and active listening within your own team. Also, encourage your agents to address customer inquiries using an approach that creates positive momentum in calls by focusing on finding solutions instead of dwelling on problems.

4. Personalize Interactions with Customers

Personalizing interactions with customers is another example of call center best practices that deliver results. In fact, 47% of consumers today expect a high degree of personalization in their phone calls with contact center agents. That’s why many agents spend the first critical minutes of a call getting to know the customer and the reason they’re calling. Fortunately, technology can now short-track that process and boost personalization. 

Invoca’s PreSense™ solution captures data from a caller’s omnichannel buying journey, such as visiting a company webpage, clicking on an ad, or using keyword search terms. This data can be passed to agents before they even answer the phone, allowing them to preemptively pull up relevant information and personalize conversations. 

As a caller, what would you rather hear? “Hello, I see you’re having trouble checking out from the website. I can help you with that.” Or “Hello, why are you calling today?”

5. Use Real-Time Omnichannel Communication 

According to Statista, the average number of devices and connections used by U.S. consumers in 2023 could be as high as 13.4. That sounds like a lot, since the global average is less than four. But think about it: We have smartphones, smart speakers, tablets, smartwatches, smart TVs, smart printers in the home office, smart cookers and fridges in the kitchen, video game consoles, connected cable boxes, and yes, computers. And there are also countless apps and a wide range of social media platforms that allow consumers to interact with brands or businesses in real time. 

Increasingly, standout omnichannel communication is becoming more than just a call center best practice but a mission-critical capability.

6. Improve Your Hiring Process

If your call center isn’t delivering exemplary customer experience, one root cause could be that you’re not hiring agents who have the raw ability to help you hit that high bar. Call center management best practices dictate that — in addition to being able to communicate effectively and show empathy — strong candidates for call center agent roles should have good organizational skills, be creative problem-solvers, and work well as part of a team.  

7. Develop a Robust Training Program

Hiring skilled talent for a call center isn’t easy. The profession is challenging and stressful. It also often attracts candidates who are less experienced or seeking an opportunity to “fill the gap” while they look for other work. Providing a robust training program can help you make the most of high-potential talent, and also, engage those workers who may come into the job initially viewing call center work as a job vs. a career.

That training should include equipping agents with deep knowledge of the product or service you’re selling and helping them understand why what you offer is different. You should also invest in building up agent skills, including soft skills, such as empathy, remaining calm in high-pressure conversations, and active listening. 

You can use technology to motivate your agents to embrace the power of self-coaching as well. Invoca’s ability to evaluate 100% of calls into the call center and objectively grade them can help you create a real-world training module for new hires and existing agents in need of a performance boost.

8. Invest in the Right Technology 

Using the right technology can be a major factor in developing a truly efficient call center. However, this doesn’t mean your company should race to add a bunch of chatbots or interactive voice response (IVR) technologies to fully automate the call center. Even in an omnichannel world, most customers seeking support still want to speak to a real human being. 

That said, strategic deployment of automation and AI can help call center managers spend less time spotting issues in call handling and more time solving them. Automated call quality assurance technology, such as Invoca, can quickly and efficiently evaluate 100% of calls in the contact center and provide real-time analytics. Invoca’s objective scoring of calls provides agents and managers with a complete and accurate picture of performance that both can trust.

9. Provide Cloud-Based Training 

Cloud-based technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allow call centers to scale quickly. Invoca’s conversation intelligence solution is cloud-based, so managers can provide valuable training to all employees no matter where they sit. That’s a big plus in an era when remote contact centers have become a popular business model. Invoca’s software tracks and analyzes 100% of calls whether they’re picked up in the contact center or an agent’s home, giving a manager complete visibility into every phone call and collecting data from every call received. 

10. Cultivate a Coaching Culture

Coaching should be an integral part of your company culture if you want to deliver a superior customer experience. Yet, it’s not always possible for managers to offer regular coaching sessions. Here’s where the right technology can create efficiencies. For example, Invoca’s solution has in-platform agent coaching capabilities that provide powerful tools for both managers and agents. 

Call center managers can provide real-time coaching tips by adding comments in transcripts to show agents where they are falling off the talk track and advise them on how to recover. This is a great way to develop and teach call center script best practices. Invoca can help you instill a coaching culture by allowing agents to self-coach through the ability to review 100% of call transcripts, search each by keyword, and learn from their colleagues’ missteps and successes.  

Invoca allows you to give your sales agents real-time coaching on their performance

11. Reward Your Agents

Top call center best practices include rewarding your agents for a job well done. And when you use Invoca to objectively track performance across your entire team, you can confidently offer incentives and reward exemplary work by individuals and teams in the call center.

Here’s where the importance of clearly communicating your goals and expectations to employees is critical. If an employee follows the call center script best practices you’ve set to the letter, reward them and call out their performance as an example to others. Let your agents be in no doubt about what you expect from them, but also set realistic targets and reward them appropriately when they meet or exceed your goals.  

12. Communicate with Your Employees and Provide Feedback

You may be underscoring to your agents the importance of communicating with customers effectively, but are you making sure to communicate effectively with your agents? 

Ongoing coaching is a powerful way to create a meaningful dialogue with your agents. Invoca’s real-time, objective scoring of calls helps managers easily identify teachable moments and offers a window for feedback. Regular feedback, including constructive criticism of failures and kudos for successes, can keep agents fresh, engaged, and focused on their integral role in providing customer satisfaction. 

Sample Invoca agent scorecard generated by AI

It can also deliver real results. MoneySolver, a Florida-based financial services company, doubled the close rate among sales agents in its contact center by using Invoca. The solution’s real-time analysis of call transcripts allowed managers to provide timely feedback to agents about when and where they fell off the talk track, allowing them to pivot and make adjustments on the fly before the next call.  

13. Measure Performance and Use Data to Make Good Decisions

If you’re investing time and energy in developing best practices to make the call center more efficient, you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking and measuring your results. Call center quality assurance best practices require you to have a systematic way to measure performance. If you already have a system in place to track your key performance indicators, that’s great. If not, consider adding Invoca’s call center tracking analytics to your technology stack. 

Data drives good decision-making. By using data gleaned from Invoca’s automated call tracking of 100% of calls, you can analyze call outcomes and identify areas needing improvement (and areas where your team is winning!). 

One Invoca user, a healthcare company, that primarily used the software for marketing attribution, found that deploying Invoca in the call center helped fix a previously unknown issue undermining performance: the incorrect routing of inbound calls. Invoca can help you surface similar, hidden inefficiencies in your contact center operations. Our technology can also help you reduce the number of unwanted calls to the contact center, including robocalls, and reduce costs.

14. Balance the workflow

Agents can suffer from stress due to the intensity of the call center environment, with its high call volume and a seemingly endless parade of unhappy or irate customers. So, best practices for the call center include managers being aware of potential burnout and helping agents to balance their workloads accordingly. 

For example, don’t overload your top performers. Yes, they excel at driving customer satisfaction. But if you expect them to be on the front lines all the time, you’re going to inevitably see diminishing returns on their performance. 

Using technology tools like Invoca can help you to recalibrate training and coaching so you can develop more of the high-potential talent within your call center teams faster. (Tip: Give new hires some time to “learn the ropes” before pushing heavier call volume to them. This will help set them up for success.) 

15. Focus on First Call Resolution

And, last but not least, here is one of the best ways to improve call center performance: Focus on first call resolution. 

Job number one for all your agents is to deliver a stellar customer experience and help customers move along in their consumer journey as seamlessly as possible. This is so much easier to achieve when an agent can resolve the customer’s issue on the very first call. “One and done” interactions also allow your agents to focus on resolving the most problematic calls, which helps to retain the loyalty of customers who initially reached out in frustration or anger.

First call resolution isn’t easy, so focusing your team on what it takes to achieve that goal is crucial. The Invoca platform can help, with its in-platform coaching capabilities and automated quality assurance tracking. And the PreSense solution from Invoca can pre-arm your agents with the personalized data they need to resolve a caller’s issue on the first try.

Improve Your Call Center Performance with Invoca

Using these 15 best practices and Invoca’s AI-powered conversation intelligence software together will help you to elevate the knowledge base of your entire contact center and give your agents the skills and tools they need to provide standout customer service. Invoca automates quality assurance to provide a high level of visibility into call handling, and it helps you track compliance — as well as the customer journey. 

When you implement Invoca’s tailored call center solution, you can turn customer service call center best practices into business as usual for your organization. Your call center agents can perform at their best level. And you can, too, by having more time and targeted insight to focus on problem-solving and optimizing your operations.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca's AI can improve your contact center quality assurance process and enhance your coaching sessions? Check out these resources:

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