To say that customer satisfaction is paramount to call centers is an understatement. In a recent Forrester poll, 89% of consumers claimed that a poor customer service experience would cause them to leave a brand for a competitor. And yet 26% of customers reported being transferred from agent to agent with no resolution of their problem, and 69% reported that they had been kept on hold for too long. Yikes.
What these numbers tell us is that call centers are struggling to keep up with customer demands. This has very real ramifications in terms of brand loyalty and sales. So how do you turn your call center around?
A common strategy is to require agents to work longer hours or to encourage them to try to increase their call volume. Yet all too often, this method results in burnout and frustration for your agent, and poor service for your customer. Luckily, there are other options.
Use these four productivity hacks to boost customer service ratings and raise agent morale.
1. Use the Buddy System in Training Exercises
A well-trained call center agent is the cornerstone of good customer service. One of the best ways to ensure that your agents are thoroughly trained is to implement the buddy system for an agent’s first few days on the job. Here’s how it works:
Assign a more experienced agent as a mentor to the new employee. The mentor will stay with the new agent during her first day to help her through her first several calls. Using a training switch adaptor, the mentor can sit in on calls, demonstrate protocols and telephone etiquette and monitor an agent’s progress. If the agent stumbles or if the customer asks a question that she can’t answer, the mentor can easily take over the call to address the customer’s needs.
The buddy system allows new agents to get hands on experience right away and ensures that your customers get the highest quality service. The buddy system is also effective in re-training or when implementing new standards and practices. And let’s face it – hands-on experience beats a lengthy powerpoint presentation any day.
2. Provide Real-Time Performance Metrics
Often, call center agents have no benchmarks to measure their own productivity. How can you know what performance areas need improving if you’re not measuring them?
Many call centers have implemented software that shows call center agents how many callers are currently in queue, what the average wait and abandonment time is, as well as the status of other agents. This allows agents to better determine how to allocate their own resources and skills and gives managers an effective tool to diagnose problem areas and improve overall customer service quality.
3. Go Ergonomic
One of the most often overlooked aspects of productivity is equipment usability. If your customer service agents struggle to use their equipment or face chronic discomfort, their productivity crashes. Make sure your agents have a headset that is light and comfortable, which allows them to seamlessly shift between calls for maximum efficiency.
4. Optimize Your Agents’ Time
Time management is the Holy Grail of call center productivity. How do you ensure that your agents’ time is used effectively?
One way is to analyze your customers calls to determine the peak calling times and most common questions. Use this data to arrange your agents’ schedules to coincide with the times when your call center receives the highest volume of calls. This will drastically reduce wait times and make more effective use of your resources. If you notice that the same questions are being asked over and over, add a FAQ section to your web-site. Making the information available on the web will reduce the overall call volume, freeing up your agents to handle more sophisticated problems.
What are some of your favorite productivity hacks? Share in the comments!