Your contact center is central to your customer service delivery and the overall customer experience, whether it’s through the phone, email, chat, or social media. Taking the analogy of a car as an example, while your contact center can be considered the car exterior, your operations are the engine that actually move the car forward. Efficient contact center operations management ensures that your contact center runs smoothly, leading to improved customer satisfaction, increased sales, and higher retention rates.
Your contact center costs can be primarily driven by contact volume, handle time, human resource costs, and telecommunication costs. In order to help keep those costs down while still maintaining an excellent customer experience, you will need to lay down fundamentally sound call center operations management principles. For operations management to be executed correctly, it is necessary to focus on 3 important areas: People, Process and Technology.
Without a doubt, people are your single biggest contact center resource and are a critical component to contact center operations management. Invest in hiring agents that score highly on skills that are crucial to the contact center environment:
- Taking Ownership
- Phone Manner
Once hired, agents need to go through the necessary training to ensure that they are fully prepared and ready to deal with customers with confidence.
- Do they have the necessary technology skills and customer service skills?
- Do they have comprehensive product knowledge?
- Do they understand and follow processes and procedures?
- Are they aware of how they need to deal with specific case scenarios?
- Do they understand the importance of first call resolution, and ownership for problem solving?
Training and development for agents is ongoing since processes, technologies, and businesses are often dynamic in nature. Therefore, it is essential to promote a culture that values learning and development.
In addition to practical skills-based training, agents also require continuous feedback and coaching on the quality of their performance. Call monitoring and scoring helps agents to continue to improve the way they deal with customers, and maintain high quality scores. Feedback is a two-way street. Maintain an open door policy and be open to hearing from agents who can provide specific customer feedback, or suggest improvements.
Other key factors to consider are how to motivate agents and offer them rewards:
- Do you have a system in place for high performers?
- Is there a transparent process in place that enables agents to progress through the ranks?
- Are there incentives in place for meeting specific targets?
Creating an environment in which agents are promoted from within is beneficial for both the agents and for the contact center. Promoting from within gives agents an incentive to do their best and gives the contact center experienced agents to promote into leadership roles.
Another important area to look at are your processes. This includes the ways in which you organize your contact center operations. The major theme I have found with good, solid contact center processes is making sure that communication is clear and concise. You can have flawless policies written down, but if they are not circulated to the relevant people, it is merely just a piece of paper. If you are in the midst of documenting your processes, I suggest you put yourself in your staff’s proverbial shoes. I have had a lot of success with creating processes that take into account the agent journey—really considering the communication styles and channels they tend to gravitate towards. In my experience, open lines of communication have been key in creating processes that work for both agent staff and managerial staff.
- Do you have clearly defined Key Performance Indicators for your employees and a system in place to measure them?
- Is there a system to measure customer satisfaction and record feedback to improve processes?
- How effectively are you able to translate feedback into action that can boost your customer satisfaction and profits?
- Are your agents fully trained on all aspects of your processes and do they have documentation ready to refer to in case of ambiguity?
You may also want to consider the scheduling practices for your agent workforce. What processes do you have in place to make sure your agents are not overworked? For example, you would want to make sure you have a process in place that ensures your agents get alternating holidays off. By putting some thought into the scheduling process and making it as streamlined as possible, you can create a positive work culture with your call center agents.
Having the right type of technology for your contact center can make your operations management a more seamless experience. Technology has truly changed the face of the contact center and has helped to drive efficiencies and company growth while reducing costs and improving customer service delivery. When you are evaluating the union of your operations management and technical landscape, some questions to consider include:
- How can technology be used to boost the efficiency and profitability of your business?
- Is the technology you are using easy to learn and user-friendly, especially for your agents?
- Do agents have all the tools they need to do their job effectively?
- Does the technology streamline and connect components of your business operations? Does it improve connectivity within the team?
- How effectively can it track, record, and report information?
- How easy is it to improve technological components without re-hauling the entire system or making costly upgrades?
Is your operations management as efficient as it can possibly be in the key areas of People, Process and Technology? Find out by giving us a quick call at 218-286-4006 or scheduling a consultation with us, the CH Consulting Group. As a nationwide network of Customer Experience Consultants specializing in the Omni-Channel Contact Center, we can help you evaluate your current contact center operations and develop a strategic roadmap with clear recommendations on optimization and improvement.