Contact Center Performance: How To Turn Operations Around When Things Are Going Bad?

Contact Center Performance

Is your client satisfaction decreasing? What are the flaws in your contact center? How many consumers stick with you after their first interaction? In order to find the accurate answer to these questions, business owners and managers must go beyond guesses and instinct and rely on scientific, clear, and quantitative facts.

After all, running a contact center without taking human, technological, and managerial facts into account in every operational element is comparable to driving a car without a dashboard. After all, monitoring your contact center’s performance helps to improve the quantity, quality, and speed of call handling, customer interaction as well as the overall client experience. Measuring only to know if you still have negative figures is worthless for a business owner unless remedial steps are taken to improve poor performance.

This leads us to the question, as a business owner and leader, what dimensions should you tackle in order to overcome poor performance within your contact center?

Team Management: how dedicated are your agents?

Even with the higher pressure levels and high stakes, life at a contact center should be enjoyable! Your agents’ lack of devotion to the company and supervisors has a detrimental influence on your performance. Whether you like it or not, the adage “Happy workers sell!” is accurate and the stressful environment that plagues your teams has a negative impact on your company’s productivity and clients. What can you do, as a leader, to create a better work environment?

Improving the effectiveness of debriefings

Conflicting calls, routine, pressure from managers to meet high targets and standards, and frustration when the situation is out of scope… are all compounding sources of stress for your agents.

Furthermore, stressed-out agents are less attentive and unable to practice active listening. This decreases customer understanding and reduces the quality of the response while increasing call duration. As the number of conflicting calls goes up and customers switch to the competition, the company’s image is by then easily tarnished. This has a direct and indirect cost for your organization. Agents are tired and even more stressed, less productive, often sick, and absent. A vicious circle sets in, which minimizes the productivity and the performance indicators of your contact center.

Classical top-down debriefings, in which agents simply listen to the list of strengths and weaknesses, with the supervisor’s recommendation at the end, are to be avoided. The agent feels attacked and frustrated that he or she does not have a specific and relevant solution to improve the situation.

The supervisor or manager may also be stressed by his or her inability to help the rest of the team. Therefore, both the supervisor and the agent need to accept and cultivate the mentor-apprentice type of relationship. Thus, by asking questions about the practices of each person and keeping an eye on statistics, the mentor pushes the agents to make a self-diagnosis and look for the solution themselves. These kinds of debriefings are less monotonous and much more efficient.

Expanding the roles of supervisors

In addition to the supervisor’s business objectives, there are also management objectives. After all, performance and productivity are no longer measured only quantitatively (number of calls, increased conversion rates, etc.), but also qualitative: retention rate, customer satisfaction, Customer Effort Scores, etc.

In that regard, training in coaching methods is very effective in preparing your supervisors to become both personnel managers and coaching leaders. The result is an immediate improvement in the quality of the relationship between agents and the workplace environment.

4 Steps to keep  your agents happy

  • Compensation: Obviously, it is critical that your teams be adequately and competitively rewarded. Failure to do so would be short-sighted, costing you more in recruiting, training, and onboarding.
  • Staffing for phone contacts is a skill that must be planned for. Invest in your scheduler’s training and assisting your new agents by focusing on planning (and, if feasible, minimizing!) non-productive work time.
  • Recruiting: Ensure that the individuals you hire understand the rhythms and timetables of the workplace, shift rotations, weekend or nighttime hours, and the value of timeliness.
  • Relationships: Communicate with your workers! It is critical to spend time talking to them, both individually and as a group. However, the larger the contact centers, the less management appears to support this strategy which is a mistake.

Technology: Do you have the edge?

More than half of the contact center agents I polled said that technology, rather than assisting them, gets in their way on a regular basis.

Besides the human factor, one of the reasons related to poor performance within contact centers has to do with the technological needs. How much could your agents increase their performance if technology aided them? Is it possible to have outbound calls dialed automatically? Is the customer record shown automatically when an inbound call is answered? Are calls intelligently directed to agents who have previously dealt with a certain customer? Is it true that agents have complete access to the customer’s history? Is there a knowledge base where they may go for answers? If your answer is “No” to any of these questions then you have a plethora of productivity tools at your hands, and the most important ones are:

  • IVR: (Interactive Voice Response): A solution aimed at increasing the quality and efficiency of your phone reception. Incoming calls are pre-processed and vetted before being routed to the appropriate information, person, or voice mailbox.
  • CTI: Computer Telephony Integration provides for enhancement and strengthening of client interactions by adding a new dimension to the notion of customer service.
  • The ACD: Automatic Call Distribution, a telephone system that receives incoming calls and processes them according to information or instructions sent from a database. The ACD then determines the best way to handle the call by redirecting it to the appropriate agent.
  • CRM software: Allows agents to optimize their job by making it easier to identify clients and their reasons for calling. It is a database enrichment technique that allows for the customization of the client relationships. Imagine landing on the website of such and such a provider and discovering a message like “Hello, John, what can I do for you?” before you could even ask your question.
  • The headset: It may seem like a no-brainer, but quality headsets improve hearing quality and communication efficiency. This makes the agents’ jobs easier, as they become more productive and responsive to client requirements. Just imagine if a client had to repeat his demand over and over because your agent cant hears him well.

Technology is good, but with the human touch, it’s even better! Implement tools capabilities to quickly add a personalized dimension to your customer interaction. For example, if possible, connect recurring calls with the last agent they dealt with. Sync your systems to provide the agent with access to client data, allowing them to personalize the discussion by calling them by their first name and by being detail-oriented. “Hello John, I understand you made a request through the website.”

The perks of Speech Analytics

Because of the evolution of conventional systems and the application of new technologies, customer services can now analyze increasingly huge amounts of data, which has become critical for spotting optimization or transformation opportunities in near real-time.

In the early days of speech analytics, audio-mining systems turned audio recordings into text so that certain words or phrases could be searched for. Today, speech analytics is the product of huge investment to thoroughly analyze vast quantities of conversations and find crucial information that leads to a better understanding of the customer’s words, intentions, and behavior. These systems may also identify and analyze customer emotions during a call.

On the other hand, if supervisors or quality managers are spending hours identifying calls to coach, a decent speech analytics solution will save you time and enhance performance. With a contact center averaging over 200 hours of conversations each day, it’s virtually impossible for your managers to personally listen in detail to more than 1% of them.

Are you focusing on the right KPIs?

KPIs are omnipresent in the wide realm of customer interactions. Consider them similar to the buttons on your keyboard; some are more frequently used than others, and so certain indications are more essential than others. But, with so many indicators available, how do you choose the right ones for your contact center?

KPIs for customer relationships are classified into various categories:

  • Metrics that measure the interactions: the number of calls on hold, unprocessed emails, etc.
  • Quantifying concrete activity over a given period: number of requests processed, number of tickets created, etc. They offer insight into a specific moment and are really useful when you want to plan for growth.
  • The performance of request processing: processing time, number of interactions to close a request. Once & Done” is one of them.
  • Indicators that measure processing productivity: for example, the average processing time for a given type of request. This kind of KPI helps you assign a cost to process this type of request, by comparing it to the hourly wage of a consultant for example.
  • Metrics that measure customer satisfaction: by rating the quality of the interaction that a customer has just had with an agent (regardless of the channel) for example. NPS, and CES are the most classic in this category.

Data Management is key

Even though big data is at the heart of an organization’s digital transformation, it is still important to understand how to acquire and handle data efficiently. Data management, whether through a user account, a website, or a form, is a lever for optimizing consumer interaction. Every contact is recorded in order to provide analysis and reporting tools. A dashboard may be simply constructed to measure the correct KPIs, identify potential areas for development, and fine-tune the call center’s performance.

The more data that is shared and available, the more helpful it may be. This is where solutions that make use of the cloud’s capabilities shine. To manage data flows across multiple applications, SaaS-based technologies or cloud contact center solution eliminate any danger of loss or duplication, regardless of the call center, or customer. It is also a smart technique to deal with challenges such as scalability, agility, and responsiveness, as well as disaster recovery.

Omnichannel is the future

Social media, mobile applications, webchats, in-store interaction, shops or agencies… the proliferation of contact points between companies and customers nowadays necessitates the adoption of a truly omnichannel technology. A collection of points of contact that assures the consistency of the service delivered. A consumer can seek assistance on social media before submitting a message via a web form and then calling the contact center. All of this data must be compiled so that your contact center agents can execute their job effectively.

The true heart of omnichannel experience lies in optimizing user engagement which entails understanding the context of the problem encountered and already communicated. Since the solution pathways are already explored, and previous interactions are reviewed in order to provide a consistent customer experience. With omnichannel, agents can save time while providing tailored and fully individualized responses. It’s also a chance for agents who are comfortable with written communication channels to connect with consumers using means other than the phone, such as web chat or email.

Are you an effective leader?

Answering this question can be summarized by your ability to make your employees comfortable and the secret here is feedback. When prompted with feedback, a comment, or a training suggestion, most individuals feel as if they did something wrong or bad.

However, criticism, training, and coaching are all necessary tools for all your employees to stay on track and enhance their performance. You do not have to be sick to recover! Consider a cruise liner traveling from one country to another. It may shift direction significantly throughout the journey owing to severe weather or other factors. If you, the captain, do not alter the course, the ship will not arrive safely at its destination.

The same holds true for the contact center industry. Constructive comments can assist your company in improving employees’ abilities and performance. They will assume that everything is OK if they are reassured and left alone with their work. In fact, giving feedback to your teams on a regular basis is a good practice. And by de-dramatizing this, it will become a routine part of your company’s culture, and employees will be much more willing to accept it. Feedback is intended to be beneficial, but if not handled correctly, it may be destructive.

Is “doing more with less “ still viable for Contact Center Performance?

Previously, good performance was connected with the concept of “doing more with less.” However, over the years, that term has lost its efficient connotation. Instead, it conjures up images of long hours spent with fewer resources, as well as overwork and burnout. Is there a better option?

In any industry, business owners, managers, and employees have good and terrible days. Everyone has bursts of energy some days while feeling fatigued and finding it difficult to do the regular task on other days.

It is estimated that everyone has at least 20% more room to improve work effectiveness. Is it possible to channel that 20% such that every day is a wonderful day? You and your leadership style may have a 20% influence on a contact center performance! Here’s how to do it: Whatever leadership style you choose must be compatible with your personality and the culture of your organization. True leaders understand how to have a positive influence on their teams while also providing customized attention to each individual at the appropriate moment. They are able to give the appropriate amount of guidance, assistance, and delegation by adjusting their style and approach. Your own values – what is essential to you – will be reflected in your style. Your method generates authenticity in your attitude when you are consistent in your approach.

In other words:

  • Be specific about your ideals and leadership style.
  • Don’t allow your time to be taken advantage of.
  • Be outstanding in terms of your enthusiasm, timeliness, and dedication to your job.
  • Be their leader, encourage them, and support them…. This does not imply that you should be their friend.
  • Be organized, and have a clear plan of action for the next day at the conclusion of each day.
  • Spending your time dealing with emergencies on the go is a bad idea. Be efficient rather than an always busy leader.

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