Often you may feel running machines is an easier task than managing a call center customer service agent team. Many organizations face the issue of low call center productivity even after spending millions in boosting CX and call center Agents productivity. According to Gartner, a customer service representative spends, on average, 20% of his or her time understanding questions, searching for correct information, and responding to the customer.
Organizations need to ingrain the culture of knowledge sharing and training so the call center agents have contextual knowledge of the customer. This increases the response time significantly and delivers a positive customer experience. Remember the battle has shifted to the customer experience domain, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. And the trend is here to stay. A recent survey by KPMG found that the quality of customer experience is improving across the world. So here’s a quick list to help you level up your call center productivity.
10 Tips to Improve Call Center Agent productivity
Adopt knowledge management practices
Whoever said knowledge is power, was not far from the truth. When it comes to customer service, a knowledgeable agent will not only have high productivity but also drive a delightful customer experience. In fact a survey by Gartner found that organizations can cut customer service costs by 25% with knowledge management systems in place. The study throws up interesting insights that every customer service leader should know.
- 35% reduction in the time that it takes to train a new customer support representative
- 40% reduction in inbound emails due to easy access to information
- 25% headcount shift away from low-value calls due to self-service knowledge search
- 40% reduction in talk time in a support center
- 8% reduction in support calls, and 18% reduction in support costs, by supporting knowledge creation in online customer communities
Instil a culturE appreciation
Most call center agents find the job of tackling one issue after the other very stressful. On average they handle more issues than self-service options. A customer is also likely to reach out to agents for more complex and hard-to-answer questions. It is thereby important to pat their back now and then and reward the high performer. A high performer often sets a benchmark for others in a team and motivates them.
Use automation wherever possible
At the end of the day, you know that machines are programmed to carry out certain tasks more efficiently than humans. For example auto dialers can eliminate manual dialing and save your agents time, while they can focus on driving meaningful customer engagements. Other automations such as multi-level IVR and CRM integration, SMS integration among others help to boost your agent’s productivity.
Engage call center agents in decision making
A simple way of making agents feel valued is to increase their participation in the call center’s decision making process. By observing them on board in designing your strategies you are already halfway in execution as you are assured of better participation and delivery of your plans.
Utilize idle time
During lean periods, agents may have some time on their hands to spare. You can use the unproductive time for off-phone activities such as filling out customer behaviour surveys, giving them a short break to enjoy extra-curricular activities of their interest.
Focus on call quality
Rather than measuring performance by call volume, you can focus on the call quality. A focus on high call quality will give you a better outcome than call volume. In a 2018 call center industry survey, 39% of customer service leaders said that they possess an optimized level of quality assurance process, according to Statista. The survey also found that 46% of call center operators were at the “developing” stage.
Give autonomy to agents
Many call center agents after years of working in the industry gain a certain degree of insight and understanding to tackle issues. Giving them a certain degree of autonomy can lead to big improvement in productivity.
Put measures to boost engagement of agents
Each new agent hire is estimated to cost $10,000 to $20,000 in training, direct recruiting costs, and lost productivity during ramp up. Organizations should find ways to increase workplace satisfaction. These factors also directly impact a call center agent’s productivity and have a bearing on customer interactions.
Provide opportunities for growth
Laying out a clear career progression path in the organization can boost an employee’s morale. Companies should strive to find the right way of rewarding an agent with promotional opportunities. Those who show lack of interest in promotion are anyway not likely to stay longer with the organization.
Encourage team huddle and camaraderie
Huddles are time-offs during a day set aside to foster interaction and encourage discussions among call center agents and supervisors. Such interactions at regular intervals can effectively help to lift up behaviors, reinforce key messages, and increase agent engagement. In a survey by McKinsey 70% of survey respondents said they experience huddles only once a week or less, while 14% said they have no regular huddles or meetings whatsoever.
Organizations today can adopt a number of approaches to improve the work environment to boost productivity. Even though these measures may appear non-strategic they yield cohesion—and extend to call center agent retention. With a few small steps, you can make a huge impact on how your call center agents engage with their work and at the same time increase agent productivity manifold.
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