Call center operations, or contact center operations if you oversee omnichannel communications, are integral to supporting the all-important customer experience (CX). Yet, call centers can be notoriously inefficient. And if they are not managed well, they can be a drag on a company’s profitability.
So, which is more important to your business? Reducing inefficiencies and reining in costs or amplifying the customer experience? The answer: All of the above. Companies can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction at the same time. The key ingredient for success is a call center manager with a laser focus on business process optimization and streamlining operations.
Modern technology helps drive efficiency in the call center, but it’s critical to strike the right balance between automation and the human touch. Too much automation, and you risk turning off customers who would prefer to interact with an agent. Automate too little, and you will frustrate your customers in other ways, like making them endure longer wait times.
In this post, we’ll look at the positive outcomes you can achieve by taking your call center operations to the next level, and some call center best practices, strategies, and tools you can use to drive improvement.
No business is perfect. Even new companies come with unanticipated redundancies that create inefficiencies and raise costs. Established companies often multiply inefficiencies, especially when management is focused on aggressive end goals.
Call center operations involve relatively straightforward tasks. But day-to-day demands, changing priorities, and the lack of effective internal communication, especially when everyone is working in high gear, can lead to acute inefficiencies. It’s tempting for call center managers to overlook these issues. (“I’m hitting my targets regularly, so why worry?”) However, if you don’t prioritize streamlining your call center operations, you are missing out on some great benefits, such as the following three:
Streamlining operations can keep money in the bank, which is sure to be popular with company management. Processes that benefit from automation, such as routine tasks, can be cost-savers. Interactive Voice Response is one example. IVR can distribute calls efficiently, making sure the right team gets the calls they need to handle. Live chat is another example. It can offer faster solutions for customers, boosting productivity while cementing a positive CX.
You can also create efficiency by introducing self-service options for customers who ask common questions. This can be as simple as a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or a search function where customers can type their questions. Every question answered by automated processes is one less question an agent must address, and one more opportunity to quickly satisfy a customer.
Speaking of customer satisfaction… keeping customers happy is job #1 for any business. Research from Invoca underscores why: Three in four consumers are at least somewhat likely to make a purchase based on their perceived customer experience alone. What’s more, one in six consumers will pay a price premium if they feel they are receiving a superior CX.
On the flip side, a third of consumers surveyed said they would end their relationship with a brand after just one bad experience. Streamlining operations in centers can help reduce customer experience friction, and that can go a long way toward delivering the kind of CX customers crave.
It’s not just customers you have to think about when considering the efficiency of your call center operations. What about your employees? Employee experience is important too. If they aren’t satisfied at work, they are likely to leave.
Agent attrition erodes the bottom line of contact centers, too. The cost of replacing an employee equates to a third of their salary. So, here’s the math: Say an agent earns toward the top end of your pay scale — $45,000 per year. It will cost your business $15,000 to replace them if they quit.
Contact center attrition rates are high, routinely running from 33% to 45% annually. If you have 100 staff you need to replace, that can equate to $500,000 or more a year in recruitment expenses alone.
Adopting a sound call center management strategy can help you reduce agent turnover.
Hopefully, the three benefits outlined above help to underscore why a focus on streamlining matters in the call center. Next up, we have six useful call center operations best practices and strategies that can help you create a more efficient call center environment.
A good start is half the race. So, the first thing a call center manager should do is carry out an assessment of the entire call center operation to identify issues.
Look at your operating metrics to pin down areas requiring attention. If calls are being routed to the wrong department, corrections might be needed in your IVR, for example. If live chat isn’t delivering a better average handle time for the center, perhaps your training needs a refresh?
Take a deep dive into the numbers and ask yourself and your employees where fixes are needed. For example, agents typically become less efficient as they are called on to take on more and more tasks. Double-check workloads and make sure the focus is on key responsibilities.
Practice makes perfect. Conducting ongoing training is critical if you want to get the best performance from everyone on your contact center team. This means organizing training at regular intervals not just during onboarding. Unfortunately, busy managers can struggle to provide timely and impactful training to all of their agents. That leaves employees feeling neglected, which can lead to agent attrition.
You can easily boost your agent coaching capabilities with modern technology designed to support call center operations. For example, Invoca’s conversation intelligence platform offers a feature that allows managers to tag coaching moments directly in actual call transcripts.
That allows agents to learn from one another’s actual performance in real-world customer interactions. Managers can flag teachable moments to those agents who need direct guidance, and agents can review any call transcripts at their leisure for additional pointers.
Using tools like Invoca to develop a coaching mentality in your call center workplace also creates efficiency. Everyone gets the meaningful training they need, and they can also train at their own pace.
Modern technology is a critical piece of the puzzle for managers looking to enhance efficiency in the call center. But as noted earlier, you need to be strategic about what, how, and how much, technology you implement in your call center.
You definitely want to move away from antiquated tools that don’t support your team’s success. Unreliable hardware and software can lead to excessive downtime or poor quality service, generally. That upsets your customers, frustrates your staff, and puts effective operations in jeopardy.
At the same time, as you embrace new, intelligent, and more robust solutions for your contact center, you want to be careful not to inadvertently sideline the human touch that many customers want and expect. Modernize the call center experience, but also preserve the human side of your business..
Developing reliable key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure employee performance is critical to surfacing correctable inefficiencies in any operation. Once you have the KPIs identified, do as much as you can to automate data processes so that you aren’t overwhelmed. As a manager, you want to spend less time detecting issues and more time creating solutions.
Here’s where tech features like Invoca’s automated call center QA can help ease workloads and expand the knowledge base. Invoca uses AI and automation to gather detailed information on every call into the call center. The solution then analyzes every call to provide managers with unbiased call scores for every agent on the team.
Since Invoca records, transcribes, and analyzes 100% of calls, it delivers a complete performance picture. Managers who don’t use a conversation intelligence platform like Invoca and instead monitor quality assurance (QA) manually may only be able to evaluate less than 1% of calls.
Conversation intelligence automates and streamlines QA in a way that allows managers to devote more time to analyzing call center data. It frees them to find and fix the root causes for inefficiencies in call center operations.
Another benefit of automated QA is that managers can provide more targeted feedback to employees, further enhancing agent training and development.
In fact, with Invoca’s automated QA, agents receive a real-time, objective call score generated by AI — all while the call is still fresh in their memory. This allows them to self-coach and improve their performance on the very next call, without having to wait for their next manager one-on-one.
In addition, Invoca allows managers to review call transcripts and recordings after each call concludes. If agents drift off the talk track, managers can flag the issue and tag the agent so they will receive an alert. This allows managers to provide quicker feedback and to more effectively highlight teachable moments.
As noted earlier in this post, one of the top benefits of a business streamlining its operations and focusing on efficiency is enhanced customer satisfaction. Build on all the good work your call center is doing to provide a standout CX by taking steps to boost your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Create an NPS survey that is short, sweet, and easy to complete. Use no more than two “perspective” questions beyond the basic, “How likely are you to refer a friend or colleague?” Make sure to survey customers while the interaction is fresh in their minds. Wait too long, and you might not get an answer.
Above all, look as closely at the responses from detractors and passives as you do the surveys from your promoters. After all, they responded, so they are somehow engaged, right? You can learn a lot from every response, and those insights can help you find more ways to increase efficiency.
Using a call center solution like Invoca can help you make significant strides, fast, in your efforts to streamline your call center operations. The solution helps you tick all the boxes outlined above, especially when it comes to agent training, agent retention, QA, and customer experience.
It begins with the automated recording, transcribing and analysis of every call into the contact center. Then AI-driven conversation intelligence scans and categorizes a huge amount of actionable data that you and your team can use to accomplish several things, including:
And finally, Invoca’s ability to create efficiencies, streamline call center workflow, and provide complete visibility into the buyer’s journey gives companies the opportunity to excel at customer service. And at a time when customers’ expectations about service and support have never been higher, it’s imperative for businesses and brands to make sure they are doing everything, especially in their call centers and contact centers, to ensure they are delivering an amazing customer experience.
Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you streamline your contact center's operations? Check out these resources: