Tips for More Effective Call Center Workforce Management

This blog provides practical information on all aspects of workforce management for contact centers, including quality monitoring, call recording, performance management and analytics

Call Center Workforce Management Blog

Another Major Company Moves to the Cloud

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If you follow news from the contact center industry, you may have read about another high-profile convert to the cloud.

One of the largest technology healthcare service providers in the United States recently announced its adoption of flexible cloud-based technology to provide 24/7 customer access via phone, online video or mobile application. 

Technology health, or “telehealth,” is a growing trend in health care, which incorporates remote conferencing between doctors and patients for general questions and follow-ups. It’s more convenient and cost-effective for the patient, as it does not require driving to the doctor’s office and paying the fee that is requested as soon as you sign in with the receptionist. 

The cloud technology selected includes workforce management, automatic call distribution and IVR. 

At this early stage in the evolution of telehealth, positive patient experiences are particularly important. Those that try the system only to lose the connection, or be stuck on hold for long periods of time, may decide it’s not worth the effort. Thus companies must make certain that patient care is optimized, and agent performance (if someone other than the doctor is the first contact for users) is efficient. 

The same concerns within this burgeoning industry are ongoing challenges for every type of business with a contact center. This is why so many of these entities are moving to the cloud in unprecedented numbers. Managers have access to all the data they need through workforce optimization and workforce management to deliver accurate forecasts and schedules, without the large upfront cost that such technology used to require. 

If you haven’t considered the possibilities of WFM in the cloud, click here to find out more about Monet WFM Live



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Using Speech Analytics for Agent-Customer Personality Matches

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In previous blogs we have discussed how speech analytics makes it easier for contact centers to route calls to the agents best suited to handle them, based on the nature of the customer’s inquiry. Some agents are better at dealing with returns, for instance, or explaining how a product works, or leveraging an upsell opportunity.

But there is another benefit to speech analytics that can also improve customer engagements, and that is to match calls to agents based on personality. 

We all have different traits as people and usually we gravitate toward others who share those traits. This works in business as well. People who are more quiet and contemplative are not going to be as receptive to a loud, aggressive salesperson. Such traits are obvious in a retail environment, but over the phone finding the right match requires the type of insight that only speech analytics can provide. 

Before we even get to that step, however, you need to know what types of personalities you have available to you on each agent shift. Hopefully, a good mix will occur naturally – some will be more outgoing and friendly; others will be more reserved and “all-business.” You don’t want to have too many gradations here – start with simple introvert and extrovert classifications. 

Now you’ll need to route calls appropriately based on the customer’s personality. With call recording you can review past engagements and gather enough insight into each customer to place them in one of these behavioral categories. Then, the next time he or she calls, you’ll know which agents have a better chance of making them happy.

Why is this important? The improved likelihood of a rapport between agent and customer may result in faster calls, high call resolution and more sales. 


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Insurance Company Contact Centers – Four Ways WFM Can Improve Performance

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Customer care is a crucial aspect of performance at the contact center, particularly for those affiliated with insurance companies. This is a process that begins before the first call is picked up every day, with the policies, procedures, and technology in place to meet the goals of the center. Accurate forecasting and scheduling and adherence are important factors, and are easier to achieve with an automated workforce management (WFM) solution

Here are four tips on establishing policies that boost customer service, and how WFM can help.  

1. Setting Specific Goals

“We want to improve customer service.” “We want to improve our training.” Great  – now how are you going to do it? The more specific you can get with your objectives, the more likely you will be to accomplish them. When you set more precise goals (“We want to lower our average handle time”), WFM will provide the data that can be used to make it happen. 

2. Targeted Training

Once basic training has been completed, insurance contact center agents should be regularly guided toward and tested on their abilities to meet service goals. With the Performance Analysis component of WFM, managers have access to reports and analysis of all agent activities, including their schedule adherence and key performance indicators. That will help to further target training sessions. 

3. Set Quarterly Goals

Don’t make a list of goals for the year and wait until December to review them. With quarterly targets, you’ll know sooner if your efforts are working, and can make beneficial changes – which is certainly better than going another 6-7 months with a less than optimal system in place. The real-time monitoring and work history data delivered by WFM allows managers to track progress toward quarterly goals. 

4. Avoid Agent Burnout

Agents are employees but they are people first, with families and outside interests and holiday plans they would like to keep. Flexible scheduling makes it easier for agents to work shifts that are more convenient, and when they have that option they are likely to be more productive and provide better service. With WFM, shift-bidding and shift-swapping (with a manager’s approval) is streamlined, while holidays and other special events can be factored more efficiently into overall scheduling. 


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A Three Point Plan for a Better Forecast

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Customer service is often determined by forecasting, and forecasting is often determined by data. With a workforce management (WFM) solution you are on your way to better forecasts. But are you making the most of the information at your disposal? Here is a short three-point checklist that will help. 

1. The Holistic Approach

Numbers, whether they are good or bad, do not happen in a vacuum. While it can be helpful to analyze different KPIs individually, it is better to review them in tandem as well, while also taking a closer look at the conditions under which they are generated. 

Of course you should review average handle time (AHT) and call volume, but you should also determine how one impacts the other. Is AHT better in the morning than overnight? Is that just a result of less calls coming in? Perhaps, but you may also have fewer agents working in the wee hours as well, so the answer may not be that simple. Maybe your night-shifters are dealing with lonely folks looking for someone to talk for awhile after midnight – or maybe they need a little more training.

2. Timing is Everything

Review monthly and weekly service levels, but understand that within those longer time periods there are a thousand variables that influence how the numbers worked out. To gain more insight, shorten the timespan to as little as 30 minutes – perhaps even 15 minutes for a busy contact center or for peak calling periods. You’ll receive a more accurate view of what you’re doing right and what needs work. 

3. Who is Messing With Our Numbers?

Sometimes the reasons your forecasts miss the mark have nothing to do with internal operations. You can adjust your staffing and shift numbers, but in a larger organization you have no control over when marketing announces a 24-hour sale, or how customer-billing cycles (that trigger billing inquiries) are structured. 

Improved communication between departments can make it easier for contact center managers to anticipate the effect of such anomalies, and adjust accordingly. The WFM system will do most of the work for you, as long as you have the data in time to act upon it. 



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Moment-Driven Data

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One of the less heralded attributes of a technologically proficient contact center is its ability to deliver insight into customer behavior – how to identify it, and how to change it. 

Through call recording, speech analytics and performance management, a contact center can learn a lot about a company’s customers – what they like, what they don’t like, what they want from the company that they’re not getting and what they hope will never change. 

Much of this analysis will be after-the-fact, which certainly still makes it valuable. What you learn today can pay dividends tomorrow. But sometimes a contact center can go one better – with real time analytics, it can identify a moment within an ongoing customer engagement in which action can be taken immediately to bring about a positive result. 

Such moment-driven data is already being generated by workforce optimization and speech analytics. Agents must then be trained to recognize these moments and proceed accordingly. 

Every call, even those that start as complaints or the cancellation of an order, is an opportunity to create a better customer relationship. 

This will only become more challenging as contact centers embrace omnichannel opportunities, but once those channels are in place they will begin generating data from day one. When contact centers can target customers across devices, and identify moments based on previous predictors to deliver an upsell or special offer with a higher likelihood of success, that is next-generation marketing. And you don’t need to wait for next-generation technology to start – check out Monet WFO Live



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Easing the Transition to a Self-Serve Customer Experience

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Remember when people used to be annoyed when full-service assistance with everyday tasks began to disappear in favor of self-service options? From pumping your own gas to checking out your own groceries, we have become a do-it-yourself world, and that mindset is now making its way into the contact center industry. 

If you have not already started to accommodate customers who want to conduct their transactions without speaking to an agent, now is the time to do so. 

This requires more than simply adding additional channels – text, online chat, email, mobile app – it means creating a seamless experience for customers that start in one channel and then switch to another. As you set up these other channels, the focus should also be on a user-friendly experience; that includes websites that are easy to navigate and proactive responses and FAQs. Also, make sure you have personnel trained for the omnichannel customer experience. An agent who excels in phone communication may not be suited for online chat. 

Data-driven analytics are no less important in omnichannel than they are in the traditional call center. Have technology systems in place to monitor customer interactions, and gather the information you need from them to provide accurate forecasts, schedules and shift staffing. 

Another consequence of our self-service world is that customers used to doing stuff themselves have become more impatient. That puts more pressure on contact centers to employ real-time analytics and routing capabilities to minimize wait times. 

Preparing your customer service systems and teams for the self-service world will take some time, but the ultimate result will be happier customers, and that’s good for everyone. 



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Millennial Agents, Millennial Customers: Keeping Them Happy

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It’s possible that no generation in history has come under more scrutiny – and attack – than Millennials. They’re rude; they’re entitled; they want everything free. 

Of course, there are overgeneralizations. Every generation has had its achievers and failures. But there is no question that Millennials approach work and communication differently than those that preceded them, and this is important for contact center managers. These are your current and future employees (Millennials are already almost 35% of the American labor force), as well as your current and future customers. 

How can you make them happy? Try thinking like they do.

Agents

Statistics show that Millennials often leave jobs in three years or less. In the contact center industry where high agent attrition is already an issue, three years might be seen as an improvement. Still, each new employee is an investment in training; so the longer you keep them around the better your bottom line will look. 

Perhaps it’s time to think differently, by shortening the initial ramp-up phase of preparation (lowering associated costs) and then relying on more context-sensitive refreshers in the days and weeks that follow. 

Millennials grew up with technology, and have a comfort level with instant communication and instant feedback shared by no previous generation. Every Facebook post they make generates “likes” and responses within seconds. Millennial contact center agents are more open to the same type of instant feedback. Monthly training sessions are fine, but with the real-time data generated by a workforce optimization solution, managers can offer ongoing coaching and assessments based on performance. 

Sure, it may take a little more time. But if that coaching is immediately integrated into performance, it results in better customer service right away. 

You’ll also find Millennials are often adept at self-evaluation – why do you think they take so many selfies? With WFO generating data on each call, these agents can review how each interaction fared while the details are still fresh, and figure out if something could have been handled more efficiently. 

If you still doubt that Millennials communicate differently than previous generations, just check out their emoticon-fueled texts. It is practically a different language. Texting is a comfort zone, certainly more so than traditional face-to-face communication. The closest comparison to this in a professional contact center environment is the webchat application. As this channel becomes more popular among customers, managers will find no shortage of agents adept as chatting online.

Can chat be used for coaching or training as well? Certainly it wouldn’t seem to be as effective as meeting with an agent in person, but times are changing. 

Customers

The Millennial customer will share the same preferences as the Millennial agent, starting with a fondness for webchat. Perhaps that is why there has been so much recent refinement in the “chat with an agent” option, with even more sophisticated solutions on the horizon. 

All webchats are already not the same. Some are still what you’d expect – one agent typing messages in response to customer questions. But at some companies the human element has been replaced by coded auto-response software that interacts with customers the way Siri responds to you on your iPhone. 

Most customers are savvy enough to spot the difference. But the next-generation virtual assistants will be able to respond in sentences that sound more authentic than the overly formal speech programmed by technology. Facebook is leading the way on this with an intelligence “Facebook Bot Engine Development Tool” that learns by interacting with current Facebook-based communication. 

Yes, this can be an advantage or a lawsuit waiting to happen, based on some of the Facebook pages we’ve seen. 

We may be at the point one day soon when a customer will not be able to tell the difference between a live agent and a program on webchat. This will make it easier for companies to switch back and forth during a customer engagement as needed – the bot can be relied up to answer basic, common questions and offer standard responses to everyday transactions. When the conversation turns to something more specialized, the agent can be alerted to step in. 

This will happen without the customer’s knowledge and, given what we’ve already said of the Millennial comfort level with technology, it likely won’t matter to them whether the responses they receive are human or machine-driven. 

As this technology becomes mainstream, it can be used at the contact center for coaching as well. Think of it – a virtual coach communicating via webchat, linked to all previous customer and agent data, providing real time reminders (“Ask this customer if he wants the extended warranty”) and feedback on a customer engagement. 

Regular coaching sessions would still be helpful ¬– but now coaches will have even more specific data for each agent.   

There are additional benefits to webchat coaching as well: it is equally accessible for remote agents as for those in an office; and it takes some of the intimidation factor out of coaching, and that might make the sessions more effective.  

Conclusion

Whether one is more likely to condemn Millennials or defend them, there is no question that they are likely to change the structure of the workplace more than any previous generation. 

It is natural for those who came up through the ranks with different rules and procedures to be resistant to new ideas, but that presumes that anyone has a choice. It is those entering the job market who have options – and if they find a contact center that is open to providing a professional environment more accommodating to their preferences, that is where they’ll direct their Nike Jordan Instigators. 



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Choose the KPIs That Matter Most

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Every contact center strives toward the same operating efficiency and customer service goals. However, each one is also unique, and faces its own specific operating challenges. 

The establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs) is the first step toward consistent performance. KPIs, which are optimally monitored and measured by a workforce management solution, provide the data that fuels analytics, testing, development, efficiency, and productivity. 

There are standard KPIs for every contact center, and they are all important. It is the manager’s job to focus on those where improvement is needed most, so discussions can begin on how to make that happen. 

Common contact center KPIs include:

Hold times

Calls made per agent, per day

Call response times

Leads generated per hour

Average handle times

Agent talk times

Average wait time for agents

Once again, the main purpose of KPI establishment and analysis is to create clearly defined goals for improving efficiency and service at the contact center. It is much more difficult to achieve cost reduction or boost sales without knowing how many calls are taken per hour or per shift, how long they last, and how many result in a sale. 

When you have your goals established, don’t keep them a secret. They will be created by managers but must be disseminated to every agent to keep them on task throughout their shift. 

And of course, KPI tracking becomes much easier, as well as more accurate, with a workforce management solution in place – preferably one that is cloud-based, so there is no issue with monitoring remote agents, and the contact center can avoid maintenance costs, hardware costs and software upgrade costs. 


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The Contact Center in 2020

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If you’re old enough you may remember the television series Lost in Space, in which the Robinson family blasted off earth en route to Alpha Centauri, but went off course and couldn’t find their way home. The series debuted in 1965, but was set in the year 1997, a time when the show’s creators apparently envisioned interstellar space travel but not GPS.

That’s the thing about the future – it always catches up and eventually becomes the present. So when predictions begin appearing online about what the contact center will look like in 2020, it might be wise to pay attention, especially as 2020 is less than four years away. By preparing now for the changes to come, your contact center can get ahead of the technology curve, and provide better customer service than other companies in your industry. 

Let’s take a closer look at what the future holds.

The Role of Contact Center Agents

As contact centers embrace multiple channels for customer communication, agents will have to be skilled in more than one discipline. Companies that have already incorporated email, online chat, texting and social media may have agents trained in one of these channels. But in 2020, most agents will have the knowledge and skills to shift from one assignment to another. 

As customers embrace more self-service options, find answers to basic questions and handle simple orders and returns on their own, they will not have a need to reach out to a contact center unless the situation calls for more extensive information. That means agents will need to be prepared to handle a wider range of product and service issues. Obviously this impacts training – and may manifest in prospective agents going through a more in-depth orientation that includes spending a day or two with different business departments within the company.

However, even with all of this additional knowledge and instruction, agents will also need to retain the qualities that companies require of them now – strong communication skills and listening skills, courtesy and empathy, and the ability to make decisions and resolve issues through their own initiative. Management, of course, will have to bestow the freedom on these agents to rely on their training and intelligence to act.   

Given all the demands on the agent, this is a job that will no longer be classified as an entry-level position. A higher investment will be needed in qualified professionals. The hope is this will not just pay off in improved customer service, but also lower attrition rates. 

The Role of Contact Center Managers

While agents will become more intimately involved in operations, managers will transfer out of a primarily operational role and adopt a more “big picture” outlook on the organization, and the strategic role of the contact center. Rather than monitoring KPIs, managers will be meeting with executive teams from other divisions on how departments can successfully work together to deliver a more efficient end-to-end customer experience. 

To make sure agents receive the training they need to prosper in the contact centers of the future, managers will also have to make sure the contact center is recognized as a profit-boosting segment of the organization, and worthy of the additional investment necessary to make sure it functions at optimal efficiency. 

The Role of Customers

The term “contact center” has already replaced that of “call center.” By 2020, we may be referring to these entities as “customer interaction centers.” That’s because customers want more options for communication, as well as the ability to switch from one to another if it might get them on their way faster. 

Most customer contacts are still conducted by the telephone. Some experts believe that dominant role will gradually shift to webchat, as Millennials and subsequent generations come of age in technology-driven world where the answer to every question can be found on one’s smartphone. Fortunately, tomorrow’s agents will have grown up with the same technology and will be equally adept at these interactions. 

The Role of Workforce Management

Workforce management will play a more prominent role in tomorrow’s contact centers, as the drive to optimize resources will always be key to running a successful business. In the contact center that means accurate forecasting, as well as analytics, skills-based routing and capturing important customer data. 

Some WFM solutions, including Monet WFM Live, can do that now. As workforce patterns change, and more employees opt for flexible scheduling to balance their jobs with their personal responsibilities, WFM will have to keep up with even more accurate resource planning, and by making it easier for agents to bid on shifts in a way that does not negatively impact customer service. 

The Role of Analytics

Analytics already plays an important role in tactical decision-making. That figures to increase as the contact center plays a more prominent role in delivering actionable business intelligence. Customer data will become even more specific, providing guidance toward new customer-centric services. 

The Roles We Can’t Yet See

Speculating about future technology is always risky, as we learned from Lost in Space. But we do have some indicators about where contact center-related systems are headed. 

We have video chat now but we’re probably going to have a lot more of it by 2020, a result of easier access, more bandwidth and customer comfort with the video webchat they already use through Skype and other services. 

So if more customers opt for video, what channels will that replace? Some might say the phone, but according to a recent survey by Call Centre Helper it is email that is most likely to fall out of favor. 

As speech analytics is already improving the depth of data derived from every customer call, a voice biometrics component may be added to this functionality. With it, agents can authenticate a caller’s identity instantly, without the repetition of a social security number, account numbers or other personal information. That results in both a faster and more secure transaction. 

Speaking of faster – that’s what customers want, both now and in the future. The next-generation WFM solutions will strive to shorten average handle time by being even more intuitive in anticipating how calls should be routed and how issues can be resolved. The concept of “self-learning” functionality is no longer relegated to science fiction. The contact center of 2020 will be staffed by better agents working with better data, to drive customer satisfaction and retention, and deliver better value at a lower cost. 



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Boosting Conversion Rates with a Better Customer Experience

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From the “easier said than done” department is the advice that works for just about every type of contact center – listen to your customers and respond to their needs. When contact centers develop this habit, customer conversion rates go up. 

The way to get there is not through some sophisticated formula – it’s the basic business practices that we know we should be doing every day, but sometimes fall short amidst the day-to-day challenges that running a business entails. 

Here’s a refresher course on the some of the most prominent of these practices.

Accurate Forecasts

Part of responding to customer needs is answering calls quickly – 30 seconds or less is a reasonable goal. Accurate forecasting and scheduling through a workforce management solution that predicts call volume is the key to developing consistency in this critical skill. 

Recurrent Training

After initial agent training is complete, the process of learning and improving really begins. Reviews of recorded calls, positive reinforcement and coaching, and the flexibility to go off-script are just some of the ways that you can help agents sharpen their skills and instincts.

Adding Additional Channels

We’ve covered this before – webchat, email and mobile apps offer customers other options for placing orders or having questions answered. 

Use Analytics Wisely

Data generated by workforce management and quality monitoring can point managers toward efficiency goals – but people are always more important than numbers, and agents should feel confident in the freedom to take some extra time with a difficult customer to bring about a successful result. 

Never Stop Listening

You can’t turn full control over to your customers, but the more you listen to their preferences, the better you’ll be able to meet them. Don’t be afraid to test new procedures and experiment with script changes or other variables that might improve the customer experience. Not every test will be successful, but you’ll never know which ones will make your business better until you try them. 


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How ACD Improves the Impact of Call Recording

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There are many reasons why call recording should be standard operating procedure at any contact center. These include ensuring compliance, agent training and for protection against he-said-she-said customer disputes. 

But one of the biggest benefits of call recording is visibility. You have a 100% accurate record of exactly what each caller said and how your agent responded. And one way to leverage that visibility is with the addition of automatic call distribution (ACD) reporting. Now you can distribute calls to the agent most qualified to handle that customer’s inquiry. 

Both systems complement each other. With call recording you’ll discover very quickly which agents are adept at calming angry customers, which show more patience with seniors who may need some extra moments to provide information, and which are good at explaining technical information to those who don’t have a technology background.

When these agent profiles are assembled, the ACD provides information on call types through graphical screens that make routing faster and easier. 

Best of all, this happens without the caller’s awareness. For all he or she knows, they were just lucky enough to have their call picked up by an agent who knew exactly how to solve their problem. 

In this business we all recognize the importance of first call resolution (FCR) as a metric for tracking efficiency. It’s one of the best indicators of a well-run contact center, and one of the stats most closely associated with customer satisfaction scores. In fact, according to a study by The Ascent Group, FCR is listed as one of the five most important metrics tracked by call centers. Organizations that have low FCR rates also tend to have low employee satisfaction and high turnover rates.

So what better way to boost FCR than by using call recording paired with ACD to deliver fast service and optimal customer interaction? 


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Setting up a New Contact Center: the Basics

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What happens when a business can no longer handle incoming call volume with the personnel they have? For some, it means the decision to create a contact center to make sure this important function is handled in a way that optimizes the customer experience. 

If this seems like a difficult challenge, here is some advice on how to make the job a little easier. Even if you have a contact center in place now, this piece might offer some helpful advice on how to make it better. 

Layout

Layout will obviously be determined by the space available – are you opening in a separate building, or devoting part of your current workspace to call center functions? Either way, the objective is to make it as conducive as possible to efficient service and teamwork. That means sufficient lighting and ventilation, work stations with comfortable chairs that make it easy for agents to communicate with each other, but not so close that they’re interfering with each other’s calls. For a quieter atmosphere add acoustic wall panels or carpeting. Don’t forget a nice break room. 

Staffing

If you already have contact centers and this is an additional location, the first place to look for agents, managers and coaches is within your organization. Perhaps some will want to move to a newer facility that might be located closer to their homes. Otherwise, follow the same practices you do when offsetting attrition at your current businesses. Make sure to hire bilingual agents, as well as those more adept at text, online chat and social media. 

Technology

Obviously start with the essentials – a secure LAN, predictive dialers for outbound calls, VoIP, IVR, and an automatic call distributor that routes calls to specific agents. A call recording system is a must for legal protection and agent training. This can be acquired as part of a workforce optimization solution that includes workforce management, quality management, screen capture, performance management and agent analytics. With this technology in place, you’ll be able to do a better job of forecasting and scheduling from day one, while providing your agents with everything they need to serve your customers. 


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How Reliable is Your Quality Management System?

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“Of course we have a quality management system,” most contact center managers say. “Does it work? Of course! It has ‘quality’ right in the title!”

If that’s true, congratulations. But here’s the problem – quality is not a fixed goal that, once achieved, can be maintained by repeating the same steps that got you there in the first place. Even if everything looks good, and you’d rather spend that time on other priorities, the objective here is continuous improvement, and that means ongoing attention. 

Insight is the key to building the type of reliability that maintains quality year in and year out. Think of it as shining a light in every corner of the contact center, to illuminate what is being done right and to catch issues before they become serious.

Where You Are vs. Where You Want to Be

Gap assessment is the practice of identifying gaps between existing conditions and the quality processes you want to put in place.  Start by comparing your quality management actions against what is referred to as standard operating procedure. 

Where there are gaps at your contact center? Find out where and when they occur, define the problem that needs to be solved, and what control can be put in place to make sure the problem doesn’t come back. Chances are you won’t be able to answer these questions right away. Set time aside to interview key personnel, to observe processes over time, and to analyze the results. 

If this results in change, be sure to give those changes time to work. Every time a new procedure is added, it will take agents time to adjust. And don’t change too many things at the same time, as it will make it more difficult to discern which new processes are working and which are not. 

Avoid Silo Processes

Any kind of business is more successful when all of its divisions and employees are working together toward the same quality goals. 

With larger companies, including contact centers, this can be easier said than done. Different divisions have different priorities, and while all of them may be similar in conception (better customer service, improved efficiency, lower costs, etc.), these efforts can always be improved (and can occasionally be hindered) by the data and employee input from other parts of the organization. 

This is particularly true of quality management at a contact center. Such businesses are comprised of managers devoted to forecasting and scheduling, executives who review recorded and monitored calls to gauge customer service, and others who set goals for the organization based on agent and customer feedback. All of the functions are important for quality, but may be monitored separately. 

Rather than take a siloed approach, where each system works independently without reciprocal operation with other divisions, having the right workforce optimization systems in place can provide easy access to cross-functional data that helps align teams, so they can work more effectively on common objectives. And access is immediate regardless of employee location, just one of the many benefits of a cloud delivery system. 

With the centralized administration provided by unified WFO, there is no need to devote additional time and budgeting to costly integration projects, which can be effective but may not be scheduled more than once a month, if that. The fully integrated WFO framework automatically delivers important call center insights, metrics and alerts on an ongoing basis. Now managers can make more informed decisions and react more quickly to internal or external trends. Result? More consistent quality management. 

Improvement Every Day

A lean quality management system is one that is intolerant to waste in all its forms by creating a culture that expects daily improvement. If there is something at your contact center that is not making a contribution, get rid of it, along with any other non-value-added steps in your processes. 

Usually when organizations think about getting leaner it means cutting  – less agents, less hours. And while that may be feasible, there are ways to add instead of subtract that can also contribute to a lean enterprise. These may include adding more flexibility and empowerment to the agent position, so that can deal with customer issues without additional assistance. 

How the Right System Helps

As stated earlier, proactive quality management is made easier with an automated workforce optimization solution in place. Now you can quickly and accurately measure the metrics that are most critical to your quality system, analyze real-time data across different departments, and generate reports that help to share the knowledge faster. 

Conclusion

Optimization and lean, continuous improvement programs are not just one-time projects, but a continuous cycle for improving your quality management system. It’s a worthy goal, as doing so can achieve a number of ROI benefits, from knowing you are always making the most efficient use of your resources, to the adoption of successful, sustainable processes, and the ultimate achievement of higher quality customer service delivered at a lower cost. Once you have the basics in place, introduce a maintenance program that can add modest refinements as needed for further optimization. You may be surprised at how much time and money can be saved by even the smallest change. 


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Why are Customers Frustrated with Contact Centers – and How to Change Their Minds

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The calendar says we’re closer to Easter than Halloween, but we have a few contact center horror stories to share, and they’re too good to keep until October. 

A customer opened a web chat with a cable TV provider. The company responded only with pre-prepared template messages – until the customer was shocked to see the personal information of another customer pop up on his screen. When this was brought to the agent’s attention, she typed, “Oh, sorry… hehe… I am typing in 2 other windows, and got confused."

Another cable TV customer called to cancel service that had originally been ordered in her husband’s name. Her husband had recently died. When she explained this to the agent, the agent responded that he would still have to contact them to cancel. 

A corporate customer called a computer company to report that the 12 laptops he had purchased were not working. The agent’s response: “What do you want me to do about it?”

A customer with a billing question was transferred to an account specialist. As soon as the call picked up, the agent yelled, You, I told you not to call me again.” When the customer questioned what was going on, the call was disconnected. 

The customer of an Internet service provider called to ask about a company’s bundling offers with cable TV, and the agent tried for more than 30 minutes to sell that customer a home security system. After the call ended, during which the customer did order cable, a technician arrived a few days later to install the cable – and the home security system that was never ordered. 

Some of these sad-but-true anecdotes, like the now-famous tale of the customer that was on hold with Comcast for more than three hours, are clearly aberrations from normal procedure. But we live in a time when one bad experience gets shared on social media, repeated on industry blogs, and may even go viral. 

So when we ask the question of why customers hate contact centers, these exceptional examples of bad service cannot be ignored. And as a recent survey from analytics company ForeSee illustrates, customer satisfaction derived from the contact center is crucial to company reputation, brand loyalty and future sales. 

After receiving feedback from approximately 11,000 contact center customers, each asked to grade their experience on a 100-point scale, ForeSee found that most businesses achieved scores around 70. Those in the 80s are on the right track – but some only managed to edge into the 50s, indicating the need for significant changes to policies, procedures, or personnel.

Service-based contact centers tended to receive lower scores, which is not surprising. These are the types of businesses that hear primarily from customers that are already angry or confused, making the agent’s task even more difficult. 

Two Solutions: Technology and Sensitivity

How is your contact center doing on the customer service scale? Would you hit that 70-range of average success, or is there work to be done?

If it’s time for a fresh look, there are two areas where changes are more likely to bring about better results. 

Let’s start with agent training, which should extend beyond learning a script or becoming familiar with contact center procedures, and should also stress empathy, patience and understanding. Scripted responses might be more efficient, but it makes customers feel better if they believe they are connecting with a person who acknowledges their frustration, and reassures them that they have come to the right place for the help they need. 

We’ve mentioned the CARP Method before but it’s worth acknowledging again. CARP is an acronym for “Control, Acknowledge, Refocus, Problem Solve.” It was created by Robert Bacal, who wrote the book If It Wasn’t for the Customers I’d Really Like this Job. His advice for handling complaints – “Control” the situation with polite but firm responses; “Acknowledge concerns in a way that takes them seriously; “Refocus” the conversation to solving the problem rather than complaining about its existence, then “Problem Solve” and wrap it up. 

However, to be fair to your agents, it is also appropriate to train them on the difference between angry callers open to best practices communication, and the acceptance of an apology when merited, and abusive callers who just want to vent. It may not be possible to salvage these encounters, and it’s acceptable to give up on them when the threats and profanities start flying. 

Workforce Management Software

All of the burden for customer service should not fall on the agent’s shoulders. The contact center must provide the tools necessary for that agent to do his or her job, as well as provide forecasting and scheduling that assures the presence of enough agents to efficiently handle incoming calls. 

That used to be handled with spreadsheets but can now be covered with a workforce management (WFM) solution. With the advanced functionality and the more accurate forecasting and scheduling made possible by WFM, as well as the data it delivers on agent performance, schedule adherence and KPIs, contact center managers can always be assured the contact center’s resources are being utilized in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. 

Among the benefits:

Real-Time Adherence

Tracking and schedule adherence are difficult, if not flat-out impossible, with just a spreadsheet. Spot-checks are fine as far as they go, but without the real-time tracking provided by WFM there is a higher risk of over/under staffing, shrinkage and missed service levels. 

Skill-Based Routing

You know what types of calls your contact center receives, and you know which agents are adept at handling those particular calls. But the process of routing calls  to the best recipients is more complex given the number of calls expected in any shift, and the number of agents available to handle them. Skill-based routing becomes less challenging with a WFM solution. 

Multi-Location and Multi-Channel Coordination

Companies with multiple contact center locations require a means to coordinate personnel, resources and schedules at each facility so the service they provide is consistent. There may also be agents working from home that must be accounted for. WFM delivers these multi-site capabilities. 

Choosing the Best Solution

If you are considering the addition of WFM, it can be a confusing process. The best way to be assured of choosing the right solution the first time is to be prepared. Have a list of capabilities that you’ll want from your system, such as: 

The ability to coordinate in multi-skill, multi-contact environments

Support for email, phone and chat contact channels

The ability to run simulations based on required skills and personnel

The capability to analyze and report on a wide range of agent and scheduling data

Next, have your questions ready for the vendors you contact. We’d suggest including these on your list: 

How will this system integrate with my business? 

The optimal WFM solution will improve a contact center’s procedures without requiring a complete overhaul of its current system. 

How much does it cost?

An obvious question but also one that, for many smaller and midsized contact centers, marks the end of the discussion – unless they choose a cloud provider. 

How long will it take to set up?

Once again, advantage: Cloud. Set up can be completed in days, with secure access available to agents and managers in the call center and at remote locations. 

Is the system easily usable/scalable?

Usability is a priority with most cloud-based solutions, so call center agents and managers can get started more quickly from any location. 

Conclusion

No contact center has ever achieved a 100% perfect service record. However, it’s a worthy goal to pursue even if one is doing so with imperfect people – and that includes managers as well as agents. But armed with better training that emphasizes courtesy and customer empathy, combined with a workforce management solution that locates the gaps between the contact center’s available personnel skills and resources, the contact center that inspires customer derision can be transformed into a sales-building protector of the brand.  



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What Happens if a Call Isn't Answered in One Minute?

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One minute doesn’t seem like a very long time. But try this: get a stopwatch or a watch with a second hand, and time out one full minute while sitting and doing nothing else. It will probably seem much longer than you think. 

Now, imagine one of your customers waiting on hold that long. 

If this is happening often at your contact center, you might want to consider some changes. According to the advertising analytics company Marchex, 62% of callers will abandon a call if they’re not speaking to an agent after one minute. And no, those “your call is important to us” pre-recorded messages aren’t doing much to change their minds. 

Marchex then translated that abandoned call rate into economic impact, using the cable TV industry as an example. If just 10% of abandoned calls were turned into new customers, it adds up to an additional $15 million in revenue per year. 

Don’t Stop There

Of course, just picking up the phone quickly won’t result in a happy customer. It’s what agents do next that also counts. Reading a scripted greeting that launches the information gathering process is a fairly common practice: “Thank you for calling ABC Industries, where the customer always comes first. My name is Bob, can I have your account number please?”

Nothing really wrong with that, but the Marchex survey also found that something simpler, more personal and more courteous can also be more effective. A greeting as basic as, “Hello, how are you today?” can put a customer at ease, and add a personal touch to a professional call. 

The ultimate goal is always more sales, more conversions, and more customer satisfaction. If too many minutes are going by without calls being answered, it may be time to look at a workforce management solution that will help you make better forecasting and scheduling decisions, so you’ll always have enough agents available to promptly pick up calls. 



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What is Workforce Optimization?

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Perhaps you know the answer to that question. Or perhaps you just think you do.

There are two definitions for workforce optimization (WFO) – one that provides a general assessment and one specific to the contact center industry.

The general definition, or at least the one offered by Technopedia, is: “A strategy used in business with a focus on maximum customer satisfaction and benefits with minimal operational costs and supported by integrated technologies, cross-functional processes and shared objectives.”

All of these qualities would certainly apply to the contact center, but would also work for any number of professional pursuits. When we think WFO for our industry, the definition incorporates specific functionality such as call recording, workforce management, quality management and speech analytics

We’re exploring this topic because of a recent Gartner report predicting that by the end of 2018, 70% of organizations with more than 300 contact center agents will be working with an integrated workforce optimization solution, either on-premise or in the cloud. 

That’s about 20 months away. If you have not yet explored the possibilities of WFO, there is a real risk of falling behind companies committed to maximizing efficiency and customer service. It’s a big decision that will impact every aspect of your company, even beyond the confines of the contact center itself. 

When you’re ready, start with a list of priorities and then seek out the solution best suited to meet them. Also, as so many business processes will be affected, look for a WFO application that can be implemented and integrated in a way that reduces the learning curve, while working toward ROI from day one. Price will also be a likely consideration, so a cloud solution may be the answer to achieving your technology goals at a cost you can afford.



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Workforce Management: The State of the Industry

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There certainly seem to be a lot of surveys released these days, all focusing on the contact center industry and the impact of technology on the customer experience. We like to bring these to you when we find them, because if they’re done well they usually have something important to tell us about the state of our business. 

We just found one from the United Kingdom that spoke to 100 contact center professionals about their workforce management adoption and challenges. If we had to summarize the findings in one sentence, we’d say it suggests that workforce management solutions are capable of making significant improvements in a contact center’s efficiency, but many businesses are still hesitant to commit to this improved technology:

Just 29% of respondents have a WFM solution in place

33% report disappointing experiences with off-the-shelf solutions

67% believe the WFM provider did not provide adequate support and training

This is disappointing to read for a number of reasons. Workforce management has been around since the 1980s – this is not a shiny new toy that hasn’t been proven in the real world. If seven out of every 10 contact centers in the UK are still getting by with spreadsheets and other means, we can only wonder how much better they could be doing by embracing a solution that can revolutionize their forecasting, scheduling and staffing procedures. 

Even more troubling are the responses from those that have adopted a WFM solution, and found it wanting. This has a negative impact not just on the company that provides that WFM software, but also on all of us in this business. 

Looking closer at the survey results, we find the 33% that were disappointed in WFM found the system to be inflexible, and thus incompatible with the demands placed on the modern contact center. The challenges they found, in areas such as reporting, support, and overall performance, simply would not be an issue with a product like Monet Live WFM in the cloud

Great WFM solutions are available – it’s up to contact center managers to do their due diligence and find a solution with the customization, flexibility, user-friendliness and support they require. 



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Top 5 Service Boosting Contact Center Trends for 2016

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How much can substandard customer service cost your business? Considering a recent Zendesk survey that reported 82% of customers stop doing business with a company that does not treat them well, we would guess the losses engendered by poor service are substantial. 

As the contact center is the first point of contact for many customers, it’s a place where service must be constantly emphasized at both the agent and managerial levels. 

Here are some customer service trends that are gaining more attention in 2016, and may help to improve performance at your contact center. 

1. Help Customers Help Themselves

At first “do it yourself” sounds like the antithesis of customer service, until you realize that many customers (more than 50% according to the Harvard Business Review) would prefer visiting a company’s website to having to call a contact center. By offering an array of self-service options, you serve customers better and eliminate many of the calls asking for basic information and services that could be addressed in another way. 

2. Omni-Channel

But what exactly are those other channels referenced in our previous point? Web, online chat, email and texting are just some of the methods your customers would like to use – and sometimes an issue can be best resolved by switching from one channel to another, without having to close the first engagement. Make it easier for customers to transition from web to voice, and make sure you are tracking that customer journey for quality management purposes. 

3. Social Media

Social media is still under-utilized as a business communication tool – but chances are your customers are already using it to discuss your business. It’s important to be represented there so you can respond to comments, positive or negative, as well as promote new offers and generate the types of discussions that will help you serve your customers better. There is an informal nature to Facebook chats that can produce more insight into what your customers are thinking. 

4. Video Chat

This is not something you may have to think about yet, but some companies like Amazon have already incorporated this channel into their customer service strategy. Those who enjoy using various webchat services or Skype may wonder why they can’t order products and ask questions from companies the same way. Video chat won’t add much to a contact center budget, but some agent training will be required to acknowledge the differences between a phone conversation and a virtual face-to-face. 

5. The Cloud Makes Everything Easier

Will 2016 be the year that the cloud becomes the top platform choice for contact centers? It’s too early to tell but the early returns are encouraging. We’ve covered the reasons for the cloud’s ascension before – lower costs, faster deployment, scalability, flexibility, ease of integration, user-friendliness, and the peace of mind of knowing that your business is always running the most recent and most secure version of the software you need. 

If it’s time for your contact center to take a closer look at the benefits of the cloud, Monet WFM is a great place to start. 



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The Importance of the Greeting

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What are the first words your agents say to customers? According to one recent industry study, that greeting may be worth as much as $20 million to a business.

The study, “America’s Call Centers Revealed” analyzed conversations, hold times and call outcomes from more than two million contact center calls in 2015. Several interesting findings were uncovered, including:

Open-ended questions from agents (such as “Why are you calling today?” can boost conversion rates

Offering additional incentives works, as long as it is done in a ‘no pressure’ way

Hold times are critical; if the wait is longer than three minutes, 50% of callers hang up

About 10% of callers hang up if they hear an IVR

But it’s the revelations regarding the greeting that should raise eyebrows the

highest. Turns out there is still a lot to be said for courtesy, and treating each customer with respect. The study reports that when calls are answered this way, a consumer is 22 percent more likely to buy a product or service. 

What would a 20% increase in sales mean to your business? Another $1 million? Perhaps another $20 million? 

And the best part is, this is a change that doesn’t cost the business or the contact center anything at all. 

Take a second look at your scripted greeting, and review call recordings to examine if it is being used and how it is being communicated. Tell your coaches and trainers to pay more attention to this part of the call. The benefits can be substantial. 



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Three Steps to Greater Customer Insight

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With workforce management you have a lot of data at your disposal. And all of it is important – some to improve the efficiency of your contact center, and some to help you better understand the needs and preferences of your customers.

Let’s take a closer look at that second category today, as this is where many contact centers are seeing an increased focus. Tools such as speech analytics deliver insights that might have been impossible to achieve a decade ago. When agents have this data at their disposal they can react accordingly, and increase the likelihood of a successful customer engagement. 

Here are three contact center trends that you should be utilizing: 

1. Real-Time Data

What good is data if you get it when it’s too late to use it? Sure you can still make changes to affect future performance, but how much better would it be to deliver real-time guidance to agents, and alert managers when a call is going south? There is a predictive quality to this data, but if it’s compiled correctly you’ll be able to anticipate customer intentions and deliver a more customized response. It also works for online chat and email engagements. 

2. Follow the Path

Think of every customer engagement as a journey with a starting point and an end point, where lots of different things can happen in between. The more you can understand about each customer’s journey, the better you can serve that customer. Analytics from a workforce optimization suite plays a big role, but don’t stop there – you’ll also want to bring agents together in a collaborative way to discuss that actions they took and how well they worked (or didn’t work), and perhaps bring in personnel from other company departments that can provide additional data. If you do it right, you’ll figure out where a journey is headed while it’s still near the starting point, and react accordingly so the rest of the path is a walk in the park. 

3. Keep it Simple

There is data you’ll want to see after the fact, and data that’s important right now. When deploying analytics, make it easier for agents and managers to see what they need to see, when they need to see it. This may require some customization of your WFM solution, or simply bringing your system more in line with your business goals. 



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Eight More Ideas for Better Contact Center Performance

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Since there is never a bad time to listen to good ideas about improving call center performance, we’ve rounded up some of the best we’ve heard recently. Any or all of them can make a difference in your business. 

IVR Routing

If IVR use is unavoidable, provide options that will make it easier to route customers to the agents best qualified to address their situation. 

Maximize the Value of Every Call

How much data are you gathering from customer calls? Is there a way to add to that through a technology upgrade (such as speech analytics) or by a renewed focus on quality management and analysis of information gathered through workforce management? 

Setting Personal and Professional Goals

Most contact centers establish achievement targets – lower average handle time, better first call resolution, etc. As these are implemented, agents and other team members should also be challenged to set personal goals, such as a renewed commitment to courtesy. 

Improve the Agent Desktop

Do agents have the information they need when they need it? Do they have to dig through various programs to find appropriate data, while customers are waiting to have their questions asked or their orders processed? Maybe it’s time for a more user-friendly solution.

Share Successes and Good Ideas

When an agent finds an effective solution to a recurring problem, make sure that word gets out. Identify calls where everything went right, and schedule a group session so everyone can listen to it and learn from what they hear. 

Empower Agents

We’ve been discussing this often lately. Allow your agents to make decisions for customers – this not only requires a level of trust in agent judgment, it also necessitates a workforce management solution that provides agents with the data they need in real time to make an informed decision. 

Review Remote Agent Practices

When instituted effectively, telecommuting agents can boost contact center efficiency, as well as staff retention and staff motivation. But it takes time and effort to bring about these positive results. Review your planning, execution and communication as it relates to home-working agents. Make sure you are getting them what they need to do their jobs, and that they are providing the same level of service you require from agents at your contact center. 

Dig Deeper than KPIs

Average handle time is down? Great! But how did it get that way? Sometimes key performance metrics do not tell the whole story. Use this data as a launching point for an outcome-based strategy that places more emphasis on customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and new business sales. 



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Time for a Software Upgrade?

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“It’s the way we’ve always done it.” 

That is the explanation managers to use for why certain contact center business practices have not changed for years, if not decades. But while some contact centers stick with traditional solutions, others have been more cognizant of how technology offers better ways to achieve customer satisfaction goals – and how this functionality is now available to contact centers of all sizes regardless of budget, thanks to the cloud. 

If it’s time to consider an upgrade, here are some questions that you might wish to ask of your next technology provider. 

Can I get important information on customers to agents in real time?

You may already be collecting data on customers, but is there a way to make that available to agents so they can customize their handing of a specific call – or route it to the agent best suited to handle it? Real time information is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity if agents are going to effectively meet a customer’s needs. 

Can we provide 24/7 access?

Your team should be able to stay connected to the contact center wherever they are. Find a browser-based software solution that makes working from home as easy as working in the office. 

Will this be easy to adopt?

A more sophisticated product won’t pay dividends if your agents can’t figure out how to make use of its capabilities. Choose a solution that will allow for a shorter acclimation period, and that will facilitate collaboration among your team members both on and off-site.   

Will this help our agents be more autonomous?

Customers prefer only talking to one person at your contact center, rather than being put on hold or transferred to a supervisor and explaining their issue a second time. More and more, managers are trusting agents to make decisions that might otherwise have required executive approval. However, agents need access to the right data at the service level to make an informed decision. 



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(Even More) Ways to Make Your Contact Center Better

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The purpose of many of our blogs and articles is to provide information and suggestions on how to improve the quality and efficiency of your contact center. Of course, what works for a small center with 10 agents may not be equally appropriate for a large 24/7 facility with three shifts of 200 agents. 

So the goal of this piece is to offer so many different kinds of tips in one article, you are bound to find at least a few that will be beneficial. Welcome to our spring cleaning piece – here is all the good advice we’ve had laying around the office all winter. 

Let’s get started on making your contact center even better than it is right now. 

Smart Call Routing

Use WFO or speech analytics to route customer calls to the agent best suited to deal with each caller’s issue. Calls will be handled faster, and customers will be happier. 

Team Building 

Take the agents that work together out for some friendly competition, especially if they are pitted against the managers. Arcades, go-kart tracks or any fun activity can encourage agent motivation and loyalty. 

Keep your Door Open

Agents appreciate a manager that is available to them when a problem arises or a question needs to be asked. The closer managers are to the area where agents are fielding calls, the better sense they will have of what is working and what is not. This is important for team-building as well. 

Provide Multichannel Access

Some of your customers may want to interact with your company without using the phone. At some contact centers as many as 40% of customer interactions are handled via live chat, while others are conducted with email. 

Basic Training 

Take potential agents on to the floor to listen to calls before they go into training. This makes training more relevant and ensures they feel comfortable with the role and environment. Then start new agents on the phones with support before letting them fly solo. It builds their confidence. 

Create an External Knowledge Base

Is there a place customers can go to answer the most basic questions about your company before calling? Don’t just create it – promote it via social media and your IVR message. 

Make Your Customers Happy to Be Customers

Courtesy on the phone, empathy when there is a problem, and a friendly greeting and close to each call can make a big difference. 

Expedite the Customer’s Path to a Live Agent

While it might seem more efficient to collect a caller’s personal information via automated message, the customer often has to confirm some of it with a live agent anyway. Most callers would prefer speaking to an agent as soon as possible. 

Ditch the Emoticons

Do you really think an emoji with a tear in its eye is going to make a customer feel better about the order they never received? This isn’t junior high. 

Empower Your Agents

Trust agents with the authority to handle basic transactions without a supervisor’s involvement or to use his or her best judgment with more complicated issues. This expedites the customer’s call and also makes agents feel more valued. 

Free Product Samples

When a new product is introduced, provide your contact center agents with one so they can get acquainted with it, and better understand what questions may arise from its use. 

Use Metrics Wisely

Metrics are vital in providing data on customer service goals – but make certain agents aren’t trying to lower average handle time by rushing through customer calls. The first priority is always the customer. 

Promote From Within

Managers that used to be agents will have more insight into how the front line works, and will be better able to structure their forecasting, scheduling and training

Be Patient with Seniors

Remember that seniors did not grow up with the same technology you did – make sure your agents know this as well, and encourage patience as they instruct the AARP generation how to negotiate online portals. 

Customer Survey

Think you know what’s most important to your customers? Why not confirm it with a survey that covers what they expect from a contact center? You may be surprised with the results. 

Employee Appreciation

Show your agents that their work is valued. A free lunch here, a spa day there, even an encouraging word or inquiry about their family can make them feel appreciated. And don’t neglect your off-site agents if you have them – telecommuting employees need acknowledgment too.

Share Training Ideas

A good idea for training and development can come from an agent, a coach, or even from someone outside the contact center. Hold meetings to update training session procedures and always look for ways to improve them. 

The Suggestion Box

Whether it’s handled though regular meetings or anonymous suggestions submitted through the old-fashioned suggestion box, make sure agents have a means to offer ideas for contact center improvements – many of which can be implemented at little or no cost. 

Create a Suggestion Box for Customers as Well

If you don’t wish to do a customer survey, have your agents ask customers before closing each call if there is a way that the contact center can better serve them. 

Communication Builds Relationships

Face-to-face interaction with different company departments should be encouraged. Shared knowledge about how different aspects of the company work will result in new ideas to create better synergy, and ultimately better service. Also make sure the lines of communication are always open within your team, by keeping them up to date with any news, company changes or notable customer feedback. 

Lead by Example

Motivation is always more effective when it comes from someone who follows the same rules and exhibits the same enthusiasm. Agents will pick up on a “do as I say, not as I do” approach very quickly, and respond accordingly. 

Never Settle

Did you achieve all of your goals this month? Great! Now set some new ones. Strive for continuous improvement every day. 



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Making the Most of Speech Analytics

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Have you added speech analytics to your contact center’s capabilities? 

It’s worth considering – merging call recording with speech analytics can significantly boost lead conversion rates, as well as increase customer retention levels. At the same time, it’s a way to be 100% assured that agents are always in compliance with federal and industry regulations. 

If and when you make that decision, here are some guidelines that can ease the implementation process and optimize the results this powerful solution delivers. 

Prioritize Goals

Speech analytics can do a lot for your contact center – but it’s best to start by specifying one or two areas where attention is most needed, and setting goals for improvement. Don’t try to do everything at once. 

Training

Make sure your agents and managers and trainers know how to leverage speech analytics capabilities and the data it delivers. It may take some time before the language and tone of every customer call can be accurately analyzed, but once you’re there the results will be very beneficial.

Motivation

Dispel the notion that speech analytics was added to keep a closer eye on how agents do their jobs. Educate your agents on how this tool can help the business achieve its corporate goals. 

Maintain Quality Monitoring

Speech analytics can enhance your quality monitoring, but it shouldn’t replace it entirely. 

Patience

It will take time, and some trial and error, before speech analytics becomes fully integrated into your best practices. Don’t look for perfection in the first week or even the first month. 



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Six Scheduling Mistakes to Avoid

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Sometimes with accurate scheduling it’s not about what you do right, but what you do wrong. Here are six examples where scheduling elements can be overlooked or mishandled, resulting in problems that can impact customer service. 

Not Scheduling Breaks

If agents take their breaks when they feel like it, that might result in too many going off to lunch or the break room at the same time, leaving a shift under-manned. Avoid this by scheduling breaks – it may not be popular, but by providing agents some input in when they can take some time off, the transition might be made more easily. 

Not Enough Part Time Help

If all of your agents work full time, they will always be there whether they are needed or not. Sometimes you’ll have too many people on the floor – occasionally there may still not be enough. By mixing in some part-time agents you can add more flexibility to your scheduling, and initiate split shifts. This will make it easier to cover peak hours, while not having to pay agents for sitting and waiting for the phone to ring. 

Not Accounting for Shrinkage

Almost every contact center takes shrinkage into consideration, but the calculations are complicated without an automated workforce management system. With WFM and attendance reports, managers are more likely to get the numbers right. 

Not Measuring Efficiency Properly

Schedule efficiency is a measure of how accurately and consistently the planned number of agents on staff matches the required staffing over the evaluation period. 

WFM produces a more accurate picture, but make sure to use weighted averages when producing consolidated figures, while not neglecting outside business hours.

Assuming Everyone Wants the Same Shift

There is a tendency to struggle with filling evening and weekend shifts. But with a flexible and part-time work force this should not be an issue. Students may want to work weekends, and agents with outside obligations during the day may prefer an evening shift. Don’t look for a problem where none might exist. 

Doing Nothing

Obviously this is the least excusable mistake, and yet there are still contact centers out there that just hope for the best. And to make it worse, they put off the hiring and training of new agents to replace those lost by attrition, and muddle through with a reduced roster that is even more vulnerable to unexpected schedule changes. 

It takes both art and science to staff a call center. Next to hiring the right personnel, scheduling plays the key role in maximizing resources and making sure calls are handled in a courteous and efficient manner. The faster mistakes are corrected, the faster a contact center is delivering the level of service that customers deserve. 



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