The call center experience can make all the difference in a business earning a sale or retaining a customer relationship. During the COVID-19 pandemic, call centers have become even more of a critical lifeline for customers to connect with friendly, helpful, knowledgeable agents who can address their questions and concerns, help resolve their billing problems and delivery issues, and help them complete purchases.
It’s never been more crucial for companies to ensure their call centers — and their call center teams — are operating at an optimal level of efficiency. But call centers are also cost centers, and they can be complicated to set up and run. They demand a lot of technology, both hardware and software, and a reliable and extensive phone system.
Contact center technology is changing rapidly, too, as many are moving away from on-premises solutions to cloud-based “contact center as a service” or CCaaS software as many shifted to using remote agents during the pandemic. Ultimately, this will be a cost-saver, but significant initial investments had to be made.
Centers have the potential to deliver impressive ROI. That is if they are backed by call center improvement strategies that help drive efficiency and improve productivity, while also enhancing the customer experience.
Where to start? You can begin by tapping into one of your call center’s richest resources: its ever-growing volumes of conversation data.
Obviously, manually listening to phone calls isn’t a viable strategy to capture call center data. It’s costly, prone to human error, and difficult to scale. That’s where conversation intelligence solutions like Invoca come into play — they solve this issue by automatically recording, transcribing, and analyzing every phone call. This gives you full visibility into every contact center interaction.
Conversation intelligence solutions also have AI-powered analytics to help you understand when important actions occur on the call. This can be an appointment set, quote given, a specific product mention, if a sale occurred, or anything else that may signal that a high-value transaction has taken place. On the flipside, you can also automatically detect if it was a low-value call, such as someone landing in the sales center for customer service issues or calling for basic information like directions. This makes it easy to understand performance at scale, without having to dig into every call transcript.
The number of employees staffing a call center varies, depending on the size and nature of the company. A Fortune 100 company, for example, can have anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 customer service reps working in multiple call centers. These reps are expected to handle 50 or so calls per day, and the average call duration is four minutes.
That’s a lot of call time. And those interactions generate a massive amount of valuable data related to call center efficiency — from average call duration to pick-up times. Most call center operators collect and store this data. But usually, when they review that data, they’re only scratching the surface of what they could do with it.
They may use their call data to count the number of calls received, assemble demographics, and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to their call center or a particular department within it. Some may even analyze call data to track quality control, and then use the findings to train agents. But often, that’s as far as they go.
If you’re not digging deeper into conversation data, your business is missing a tremendous opportunity to create data-driven call center improvement strategies that can elevate call center performance. And there’s a new set of tech stack tools built on advances in artificial intelligence (AI) that are opening the door to even greater insight into call center operations — and paving the way for efficiencies and potential cost reductions. Invoca’s AI-powered Active Conversation Intelligence solutions are among them.
Predictive Analytics Can Offer Quick Paths to Reduce Call Center Costs
With Invoca’s AI call center technology, you can unearth previously unknown inefficiencies in your call center operations. For example, with a simple, predictive analysis of call volume trends, you can gain immediate insight into what times of the day, or night, your call center requires maximum staffing and at what times you need fewer agents on hand.
The same goes for days of the week (e.g., Do we need more or fewer staff in the call center on Fridays, when weekly workers are paid?) and public holidays (e.g., How many staff do we really need in the call center on July 4 or Christmas Day?). This type of predictive analysis of call data can help call center managers adjust staffing and payroll optimally to drive cost savings.
More strategic staffing strategies for the call center is just one way to drive efficiency. Routing calls efficiently to reduce transfer rates keeps agents on the phone with customers and reduces the time they spend handling calls. An independent research report shows that Invoca can reduce transfer rates by 90%.
Improving agent performance through targeted coaching is another. And Invoca’s Active Conversation Intelligence platform can be an important tool for identifying specific areas where individual team members can improve their skills.
If you’re like most companies, you’re using a manual QA process to track your sales agents’ performance. There are many flaws to this approach — manually listening to calls is expensive, time-consuming, and fraught with human error. In addition, your QA team (or team of one) is only able to listen to a small sample of your agents’ calls, which may not be a reliable indicator of total performance. They may have caught some of your best agents on their worst days or vice versa.
Enter Invoca, which uses AI to automatically and objectively score agent performance on every call. With Invoca, you can easily pinpoint each agent’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
No two sales organizations are the same — that’s why Invoca allows you to set your own unique criteria to score sales agent success. For example, you may want your sales agents to start with a greeting script, mention an upcoming promotion, and then ask the caller to schedule an appointment. The call scorecard uses AI to automatically detect which of these criteria are met on each call and assign a corresponding score.
Agent coaching used to involve listening to hundreds of sales calls manually or literally standing over the shoulder of agents and listening to what they’re saying. Now that many call centers are fully remote, you can’t just stand there and listen, and spending days listening to call recordings is not an efficient use of your time.
By using a conversation intelligence platform like Invoca, you can automate much of the process of listening to calls and identifying coaching opportunities. By using AI-powered speech analytics, Invoca can recognize any phrase or keywords that you want to look for that could signal an important conversation or moment in a call.
With Invoca, you can quickly understand the reasons for poor customer experience, and easily identify which agents need further coaching. In addition, you can enable your agents to listen to their own calls so they can review their conversations and hear for themselves what did or did not go well. You can also use in-platform commenting to give your agents feedback they can act on immediately.
For example, you may learn that an agent has been mishandling customer requests for offer matching because the agent is unaware that your company is willing to flex on deals of a certain size. So, they’ve been standing firm on the company’s advertised offer — and losing sales. Once you are aware of this misstep, the agent’s supervisor can step in to provide relevant training to that agent. Then, the next time the agent gets an offer-matching request from a customer, they’ll know exactly what to do to earn the sale.
Invoca conversation intelligence can surface best practices in the call center, too. All agents can learn from colleagues who consistently earn high call scores, successfully handle customers’ objections, and help the business close sales. With Invoca, you can pinpoint what those agents are doing right, and make sure it’s shared across the team. You can highlight information from call transcripts and even share specific snippets from call recordings when coaching reps to improve their skills. You can also use that type of information to train new team members faster and more effectively. Additionally, if you have multiple locations or call centers, you can quantify and track sales and missed opportunities across locations, learn from the highest performers, and incentify performance across stores, locations, and individual agents.
And, by calling attention to the efforts of high performers in your call center, you can ensure those employees get the recognition they deserve. That can help you to increase retention of your best people and prevent costly churn.
As your business learns how to analyze call center data with conversation intelligence solutions, you can start drilling down on the “why” behind identified inefficiencies, and even solve problems you didn’t know existed. Take the case of CHG Healthcare, which initially deployed Invoca to provide clearer attribution to its digital marketing campaigns.
Once it achieved its core objective, the healthcare system used Invoca to analyze its call traffic further, and found that divisions within the call center had vastly different pick-up rates for incoming calls. One division was answering calls less than 20% of the time, while another was handling 70% of its calls. The more responsive division saw more calls turn into conversions, while calls going to the other division’s voicemail system were rarely converted.
Analysis of call data with Invoca showed the difference in pick-up rates was due to the way incoming calls were being routed at both divisions — to a live agent vs. a voicemail inbox. Once the issue was identified, the fix was easily made. And the connection rates at the division previously answering fewer calls increased by 50% which, in turn, increased conversion rates.
The Invoca Active Conversation Intelligence platform can also help make call center operations more efficient by reducing the volume of unwanted service calls. Call center operations want to provide great customer service, but the primary goal is often to enable agents to spend more time fielding calls that can be converted to sales.
Too often, customers will pick up the phone to connect with customer service because they have a basic question they couldn’t answer through a quick internet search. Maybe they’re looking for information about business hours or locations, for example — details that should reside in an easy-to-find FAQ section or knowledge center on the company’s website.
Invoca helped one call center manager address this issue by using Signal AI speech analytics technology to analyze the content of calls coming into the contact center against information available to the public on the company’s website. After analyzing the call data, Invoca pointed the business toward a way to use its website to provide commonly sought-after information so that customers would be less likely to call customer service directly.
Ultimately, this simple but critical change led to a 20% reduction in unwanted inbound calls to the company’s call center, freeing agents to focus more on higher-value calls and be more productive.
Insights from speech analytics can also help businesses ensure their call centers are routing calls to the right places. This not only helps to smooth the customer experience, but it also can drive a higher first call resolution (FCR) rate. And it creates more opportunities for call center agents to convert customer service calls to sales.
Invoca helped a major financial institution drive more sales-related activity following an analysis of the bank’s inbound call routing. The analysis found that customers calling the financial institution were often being transferred to the wrong department or individual, and weren’t getting the assistance they needed. Following analysis of call data with Invoca, the bank streamlined its inbound call routing process so its customers would experience fewer phone transfers. That helped increase the bank’s call center efficiency by two-thirds.
That’s not all: Ongoing call tracking and analysis of the bank’s inbound calls with Invoca showed that, as a result of its data-driven call center improvement strategies, it saw a 50% reduction in cost per conversion and increased call center efficiency by 60%.
Because it’s powered by AI, Invoca’s conversation intelligence platform doesn’t just analyze data and suggest improvements after the fact. It can operate in real time, using intelligent routing and contextual data to direct calls appropriately, so that the customer experience is improved and the opportunity for conversions is greater.
For example, if an e-commerce customer dials into the retailer’s call center because they don’t want to put certain information into an online form at checkout, Invoca’s call tracking can route the caller to the best department to handle that issue. By tailoring the experience to meet the customer’s specific needs, the e-commerce retailer is then better positioned to make the sale.
Invoca enables that customized experience, in part, by offering the designated call center agent a brief, system-generated audio clip from the inbound call. That clip provides the agent with more background on the nature of the call, so they know precisely how to assist the customer before they even enter the discussion.
Eliminating Call Center and Marketing Silos
All the benefits and strategies outlined above can improve quality in call center operations and enhance agent productivity, as well as help to drive efficiency and reduce costs. One of the most significant benefits of using Invoca in the call center, though, is the connectivity it can promote between the call center and the marketing department.
These functions tend to operate in their own silos, but increased information-sharing between the call center and marketing can create bottom-line benefits for the business. The data and insight marketing professionals can glean by using Invoca to analyze inbound calls can be extremely valuable in shaping and refining the company’s marketing strategies. Invoca’s specialized algorithms understand the motivations of each call: intent, outcomes and decisions made. And every conversation can be connected to a customer’s digital journey. By working closely with marketing, call centers can get more high-value calls by making sure that ad campaigns are driving sales calls, not service calls.
Invoca’s AI-powered conversation intelligence technology also enables the call center to provide more value to the business. Call center managers can use insights from Invoca to help agents deliver more personalized service to customers and improve the FCR rate, while also finding more time and opportunity to turn customer service calls into sales.
Learn more about how Invoca’s Active Conversation Intelligence platform works in the Ultimate Guide to Conversation Intelligence.