While the workings of your call centre can seem incredibly complex, that doesn’t mean you need to overcomplicate everything to everyone, everywhere: keep it simple.
Nothings sinks motivation in a fast-paced work environment than an overload of information, or a mountain of unfiltered data that needs processing at high speed. Your centre’s quality control functions can be your most effective improvement tool, but improper management on information filtration and application can add time to an already ticking clock. Your agents don’t have time to read pages-long emails and training content, any more than your support staff can waste time on crafting those documents, or sifting through raw data just to get to the meat of the matter, then translate that to operable guidance for agents.
The simplest methods are most often also the most effective ones. Inefficient approaches lead to wasted resources and increased costs, so aim to have straightforward, no-nonsense communications and systems in place. You can start simply, and then build up to and through more complexity if absolutely necessary, but the outcome should be synonymous with the start: simple.
Chargeback Gurus founder Srii Srinivasan has an eight-point take on call centre efficiency methods1:
- Proper training
Agents need the most effective training to bring them into the business fold. This should always be capitalized on once agent maturation occurs, via refresher training, continuous coaching, and every so often a full battery of retraining modules. Comparison and contrast can work well here: the agents that you’d employed the longest and that still retain knowledge of their initial training, can be an effective coaching resource for newer agents, as the old guard can draw these parallels, while also benefiting from awareness thereof.
- Daily meetings
Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of continuously touching base with your agents. The same kind of empathy that your agents are expected to extend to their clients, needs to be extended to them in turn. Your workforce will appreciate the small things like individual discussions, check-ins, and even in-passing chats and guidance on the fly. Don’t be a managerial island in a sea of rapid-fire communications: set aside times during the day where you keep in touch with your workforce. Remember and recognize your ground level.
Building on number two above, you need to make sure that you set the example first. A centre manager might not have the time, or even the capability to do the same job that their agents do, but they are rarely so disconnected from their centre floors that they cannot recognize and empower agents for effective work and dedication. If you’d ever been a call centre agent yourself, you would hopefully know how much of a boost a simple “Well done on handling that!” or “I couldn’t have done it better myself!” from a business superior to a subordinate can be.
- Revise and revisit key metrics
“Out with the old, in with the new” applies to your business tech solutions, sales trends, your workforce, and also the way that you measure their efforts. Identifying a problem is the smallest step forward towards solving it, and providing adaptive solutions on metrics, or even outright reshaping their measuring effectiveness, involves holistic perspectives: the primary focuses such as average handling times are just one cog in your centre’s wheels, and while you might have stellar performances from one or a set of agents, it stands to reason that there is always room for improvement. Be ready to change and apply your metrics to improve your agents’ performance, not to demotivate them.
- Power to the (right) people
You will always have some agents that are more dedicated, passionate, and capable than the rest. Go beyond just recognition and elevate these individuals. Place them in charge of key floor-level functions such as call routing, or supervision of difficult client communications. Efficiency can fall apart if calls get queued, so bring in the most effective employees to manage and direct these efforts, so that you don’t lose time with transfers to incorrect departments, or excessive waiting times.
- First-call resolution
This plays right into call centre axioms of cost-effective, high-yield, high-quality service delivery. Clients with problems want their issues resolved as quickly as possible; a demand that scales inversely: the longer the call, the less inclined a client is to pursue a solution, or even the service or brand itself. First-call resolution is a critical component of a successful sale, and the only way to minimize the risk of this is to ensure that your agents are continuously trained to respond, adapt, and isolate the most straightforward, rapid solutions.
- Motivation and support
It has been said before, so it must be true: a well-motivated agent can do far more work, more effectively than a demoralized agent that is simply working to eat. Recognize, reward, empower. This could be as simple as the right praise at the right time, or as involved as continuously updating your agents’ knowledge and access to the information required to provide the most effective service to clients. Don’t leave your agents buying time with nonsensical filler talk while they desperately hunt for a solution mid-call: make sure the info is ready to use, and will provide the necessary solutions more often than not.
- Agent spaces
From allowance of personalized desktops and work areas, to setting aside some office real estate for a chill area or game room, the range of surface-level improvements to your centre’s workspace can go a long way to making your agents comfortable and motivated when they do their work. Add team dynamics and constructively competitive activities, or rewards such as paid off days and thoughtful rewards, and you will have the makings of a call centre that works hard and plays hard without missing a beat. Just as a happy client is usually a generous one, so too is a happy agent a profit-generating one.
There are no doubt many other bright, useful ideas to improve efficiency in call centre operations. The common denominator will generally remain the same: keep things simple as far as possible, and when things get complicated, make sure you have the right people performing the right functions to ensure that the majority of your floor workforce can assimilate things simply and effectively.
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