Time is money, and nowhere is that adage more true than in the contact center! The longer customers sit on hold, the longer it takes to resolve a customer service or sales call, the more times a customer has to call back in order to fix an issue, the less productive your contact center becomes overtime. Every second counts when you’re trying to work through a long list of callers (especially during the holiday season!), so how can you ensure your agents are being as productive as possible? Here are four tips:
1. Find productive ways to fill idle time.
A recent survey by Intradiem found that call center agents are idle an average of 49 minutes per day and 76% of survey respondents felt it was important for agents to make the best use of this idle time. Intradiem CEO Matt McConnell recommends that managers allocate unproductive idle time to deploy “off-phone activities” to improve profitability and productivity. These off-phone activities could include one-on-one training time between an agent and manager; having the agent spend more time on post-call data entry, reviewing new product information and more. With almost an hour of down time to spare, your agents should never be playing catch-up at the end of the day.
2. Integrate your software.
Poor workflow can slow your agent down immensely and turn a simple call into a major headache for your customers! Many contact centers rely on multiple software programs and applications that don’t communicate well with each other and an agent has to ping-pong back and forth between different screens and applications in order to enter/find all the information they need. Speed up the process by better integrating your software (including doing away with components that are outdated, too complicated, or don’t play well with others!) and better automate navigation so agents don’t have to scan through a dozen windows to get where they need.
If possible, add on-screen guidance so managers can jump in when an agent gets stuck and help walk them through the software without the caller every knowing. Some CRMs actually offer automatic guidance that guide agents through step by step as well.
3. Ensure agents have all the information they need up top.
Nothing slows a customer service call down more than when an agent has to start from scratch and refill out a customer profile. If this is an existing customer you should know everything you need to know about them including contact information, past orders, previous calls, and so forth! Make sure your CRM is as up-to-date as possible and any relevant customer information is easily accessible by any agent at any time. If that customer has to be transferred for some reason the last thing you want is for them to have to retell their story to a new agent!
4. Make sure each system is working perfectly.
How many different systems does your contact center use to communicate with customers? Aside from the voice channel, what about live chat, online forums, social media, email, , SMS and more? If one of those channels goes down those customers have to find a new way to connect with your customer service team and the voice channel is likely to be overloaded. When call volume spikes dramatically productivity is bound to take a turn for the worse because agents have to move faster through calls in order to keep wait times down. Moving quickly means making more errors (even something as simple as a copy-paste mistake), which might not be noticed until it’s time to wrap up their shift or the next agent has to find something.
Obviously there are many ways you can improve efficiency in your contact center, whether it be with your people or your technology. Take a look at your people and your software and see where you can save even 5 minutes of time and effort. It might not seem like much, but multiple that by 100 agents and you’re saving hours upon hours and thousands of dollars! Small changes can have a big impact on your overall efficiency.