In this article, we will discuss some of the potential problems a contact center manager may face and propose possible solutions. Let’s start in no particular order.
Problem 1. Agents rely too heavily on scripts and clearly need to deepen their knowledge of the product (or service)
Standard responses or scripts enable agents to respond effectively to customers. However, they also hinder learning, as agents do not need to delve deep into the characteristics of the product or service to do their job: to process incoming requests in accordance with norms. The downside is that this reduces the quality and completeness of assistance to individual clients.
The contact center manager might think about getting rid of scripts. But the problem is not with them. The problem lies in ensuring quality and in training. How can quality assurance (QA) help? Here’s its definition.
Quality assurance for a call center involves setting a standard for performing work and then controlling its adherence through evaluation, mentoring, and training, so that the work is constantly performed at the set standard or above it.
In other words, QA is your recipe if you’re not satisfied with how your agents interact with customers. Briefly, a QA procedure can look like this:
Understanding the company’s mission and creating such a QA process that aligns with it and enhances it.
Defining all necessary behavior models in communication with customers that help in achieving your mission.
Creating a descriptive document that allows managers, supervisors, and agents to clearly understand what is expected of them at each customer contact.
Regular assessment of the quality of agent’s interaction with customers and agent training.
Aligning the QA process with the management, making amendments until you feel it contributes to achieving the set goal.
Repetition of all stages.
Advice for the contact center manager: it’s crucial to understand that if you are dissatisfied with how your agents interact with customers, the issue needs to be addressed through the QA process. If your company already has a quality assurance system in place, but you are still unhappy with your agents’ performance, it’s time to reassess it considering the mission and goals of your company.
Problem 2. We’re swamped, but unsure if it’s time to hire more people
Having a surplus of agents in call centers is unlikely to ever become a trend. More often, you can see call center management eager to hire more agents, while financial management is horrified looking at the budget. This disunity arises when we make hiring decisions based on emotions rather than facts.
Solving this issue requires an understanding of personnel management principles, and there are a number of questions that need to be answered if you want to gather arguments in favor of hiring more agents.
Is the agents’ work schedule optimized in accordance with the schedule of customer requests?
How do you determine and measure agent productivity, and are you confident that your agents are working effectively?
Do errors and malfunctions in software products cause an excessive increase in the number of contacts?
Are your clients able to solve emerging problems independently using the offered knowledge base and other similar resources, and how often does this occur?
Are agents empowered to resolve issues independently or are there delays due to constant escalation when solving client problems?
Is there training and coaching of agents to improve the quality of responses and work efficiency so that clients do not have to contact more than once for the same problem?
Of course, it happens that the best solution would be to hire additional staff, but a rational and efficient approach to the work of existing ones can help avoid staff expansion.
Recommendation for the contact center manager: staff expansion isn’t the only solution to personnel management issues. Focus your attention on the optimization of the agents’ work schedule, their training and equipping them with necessary tools, as well as the extension of agent authority and customer self-service opportunities.
Issue 3. Developers are ready for more projects, but there aren’t enough doorways from the contact center
Startups, like any company, have limited resources for development, forcing them to concentrate on those projects that help the company to grow and achieve success. At the same time, the call center staff is in constant communication with customers, receiving the feedback that could assist the project department in accurately setting priorities in development.
But it often happens that the call center is too absorbed in dealing with individual cases and overloads developers with a stream of daily problems, rather than pausing and thinking about what solutions may have strategic significance for business development. Of course, there will always be glitches in our work that require immediate resolution, as well as customers who have a significant influence on the company’s work priorities, but these are just some of the factors to consider.
All teams work on collecting data on frequent glitches and customer requests for new features, along with staff requests for new tools that will help agents work more efficiently. The next step to properly prioritizing is to identify the most significant problems associated with the collected data. Some key points to consider are presented below:
How many customer queries are handled by agents due to a specific issue? What amount of expenditure do these queries entail?
How much will the efficiency of the agents increase if this issue is resolved? Will both the turnaround time and the percentage of issues resolved at the first attempt improve?
How many customers are we losing because of this problem? How much revenue are we missing out on due to this churn, and how many new customers are we letting slip away?
How much would our customers’ satisfaction levels rise if this issue were resolved?
Such indicators are always estimates, but it’s better than nothing. The project team will be glad to give weight to the contact center’s input when setting priorities.
Recommendation for the contact center manager: always have a list of tools and functions (with estimates, like in our above list), and be prepared to show how investing in their development will enhance business growth and customer service quality.
Issue 4. We’re ready to add new customer support channels, but should we?
The competition existing in the call center industry nudges us towards using an omnichannel or multichannel strategy for customer interaction, striving to be everywhere our customers are. However, there’s a perspective asserting that customers would rather avoid interacting with companies altogether if there wasn’t a pressing need. Therefore, prior to incorporating new channels of customer communication, consider the following:
Is the need to invoke new customer service channels provoked by poor quality of the current channels? It might turn out, for instance, that clients wouldn’t require a support hotline if the response waiting time in the chat is satisfactory. And vice versa.
How does the lack of certain communication channels with customers affect the development of your business, customer churn, and their degree of satisfaction? Highlight the key point – understanding the impact of communication channels on the overall business performance.
Are you willing to invest in staffing a new communication channel with customers? What if the number of messages coming in, say, to email, doesn’t decrease after adding a messenger? Key term to utilize – ‘Multi-channel Support’.
Are you ready to constantly maintain the new communication channel with customers? For instance, some businesses have a habit of intermittently launching a customer chat, which leads to a loss of consistency in customer interaction. Key term to integrate here – ‘Customer Engagement’.
Are you ready to acknowledge that self-service is also one of the customer support channels, and are you doing everything in your power to help customers solve as many upcoming issues as possible themselves? Think ‘Self-service Support’ and ‘Empowerment’.
Perhaps, before introducing a new service channel, it is worth improving the support quality on the existing channels and working on providing customers with opportunities for self-solving problems prior to contacting support. Use keywords here – ‘Service Improvement’, ‘Self-help’, ‘Problem Resolution’, and ‘Agent scripts’ for support guidance.
A recommendation for contact center managers: don’t succumb to the temptation to offer all possible service channels to your customers. Activate new ones only when it is really necessary to support customers. Sometimes it’s much easier and more beneficial to focus on establishing one or two customer communication channels.
There is a high probability that you, as a new contact center manager, will be asked to provide your solutions for similar problems. We hope this article will assist you in objectively evaluating the situation, asking the right questions, and approaching the solution to similar problems with a holistic perception and a consistent strategy.
Read here on how to organize work if you are a contact center manager, how to manage efficiently, basic techniques, and tips.
Original customerthink, translation by Oki-Toki.