The call center industry is highly competitive, with each company striving to keep customers satisfied.
To stay ahead of the competition, you need to implement call centers best practices. These practices help you streamline your operations, increase productivity, deliver the best service and customer experience.
In this article, we will cover eleven best practices you should implement in your call center today.
This article contains:
(Use the links below to jump to a specific section)
- Top 11 Call Centers Best Practices
- Best Practices for Call Center Strategizing
- Best Practices for Human Resource Management
- Best Practices for Project Management
Let’s get started.
Top 11 call centers best practices for 2021
Before we dive into the best practices, remember that they are not limited to call centers alone.
You can also apply these techniques to a contact center that offers inbound and outbound services with an omnichannel strategy via social media, chatbots, and live chat.
Want to know how call centers are different from contact centers?
Check out the five key differences between call centers and contact centers.
Now, let’s explore the call centers best practices for:
A. Best practices for call center strategizing
Let’s look at two best practices when it comes to creating effective call center strategies:
1. Understand the laws in your region
Non-compliance with rules and regulations can put major hurdles in the way of your business operation. That’s why it’s critical to understand the legal aspects of running a call center.
Every call center must abide by laws and regulations in different geographic locations — local, state, and federal. It’s your responsibility to understand them thoroughly, implement them, and make sure your team abides by these laws.
This is especially true for heavily regulated industries like banking, healthcare, consumer finance, telecommunications, etc.
If your call center or contact center focuses on outbound calls and lead generation, you should also go through the NDNCR (National Do Not Call Registry). It’s a database of phone numbers maintained by the United States federal government.
Almost all countries have a variant of this directory.
A telemarketer, call center agent, or a CSR (Customer Service Representative) can’t call these phone numbers. Failing to do so will incur a monetary penalty and fines on the company.
If you’re not sure which laws apply to your business, it’s best to consult an attorney to avoid legal troubles.
2. Focus on customer experience
The main purpose of a call center is to solve customer’s issues and serve them in the best manner possible. It helps you increase customer satisfaction rates, which, in turn, leads to better revenues and profits.
You must build every process with positive customer interaction as the end goal in mind.
Some tips that you can incorporate into your inbound and outbound calls are:
i. Measure customer opinion with metrics
Direct customer feedback is a great way to judge your call center performance as it gives you a good idea about customer satisfaction.
These three metrics use customer data to assess agent performance:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): Surveys to rate the likelihood of respondents recommending your product or service to their friends and family.
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): Simple questions where answers are ranked numerically, like 1-5, indicating how satisfied the customer is with the different call center processes.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): Surveys to help figure the ease of using the service or product.
Using the customer information from these metrics, you can formulate specific strategies for the short and long term. You can even design a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) around each customer satisfaction metric.
ii. Addressing long hold times
One of the most common customer expectations is that their queries get addressed as fast as possible.
Long wait times discourage today’s customers from contacting customer service. Not only are they more likely to cut the calls, but it also makes for a bad first impression.
One way to address this is by using IVR (Interactive Voice Response), FAQs, and other ways to offer self-service.
Usually, customers call and reserve a spot in a queue. Then, when all the previous customer calls have been attended to, the call or contact center agent will call back the original caller.
This will provide a hassle-free customer experience and increase the overall number of happy customers.
B. Best practices for human resource management
Your employees are the main driver for profits and revenue. As a result, the performance management of your employees is critical to business success.
These four practices can help you out here:
3. Develop an onboarding process
When hiring employees for your call center, you’ll come across two types of people: people who have previous call center experience and those who are new hires to the industry.
Let’s explore each one of them:
- For the experienced: These agents don’t need basic call handling skills, but they require proper onboarding to adapt to your company’s culture and work environment.
- For the inexperienced: They require basic training on how to use the tools along with a thorough introduction to your company’s policies and culture.
4. Empathize with your employee’s perspective
To get the best results, it’s essential to ensure your call center agents can provide a satisfying customer experience. This will happen when they know the call center management understands and can address their concern.
That’s why communication is key — especially for remote agents.
Understand their perspective via periodic reviews, anonymous feedback, weekly team meetings, etc.
Another way is to get first-hand, real-time experience by attending to a few critical calls yourself. It is far better than call monitoring. Working alongside the team shows that you consider yourself part of the team. It also gives a rough idea of what your agents are facing each day.
Instead of relying on anecdotes, a direct example gives you a more realistic view of the problem. This further helps you strategize how to solve your agents’ problems and implement solid solutions for them.
5. Incentivize high performance
One way to keep agents motivated is by providing them with incentives for good work. This also helps you have dedicated agents working for your call or contact center.
Without giving them the right incentives, your company can end up with a very high turnover rate.
The turnover rate or churn rate refers to the percentage of employees who leave a company within a specific period. A very high turnover rate is bad for business as you have to spend a lot of time replacing employees.
But how do you measure good work performance?
By using call center metrics like:
- Average handle time: Measures the average duration of each phone call, from hold time to talk time.
- First call resolution rate: Measures how many customer queries were resolved in the first call, such that no follow-up calls were required.
- Customer retention rate: Measures the number of customers a company retains over a period.
But while you’re giving incentives, make sure you:
- Don’t limit incentives just to individuals. Extend them to groups as well to foster teamwork.
- Don’t make them purely financial. Other ways, such as paid time off and personal recognition, can help with an employee’s overall development.
6. Create a conducive company culture
Training a new agent can take a lot of time. And if you cannot retain them, it will cost you both your time and money.
To retain the employee over a long period, you must provide them with a work culture where they are treated well and feel a part of it.
You need to look beyond rules and regulations to think about what motivates your employee. A supportive and positive company culture inspires people to do their best and stay on longer.
Take efforts to increase employee engagement and make sure they feel like they are in a team.
C. Best practices for project management
Take a look at how to fine-tune your project management skills with the help of these five practices:
7. Proper workload management
One of the key tasks in running a call center is dividing the work appropriately for better agent productivity.
Creating a knowledge base can also help your call center agents work independently without relying on higher management to make decisions.
This requires each agent to work at their peak productivity without exhausting themselves. You can ensure this with a thorough workload management strategy.
But creating a proper schedule and workflow can be tough.
You’ll need to take care of several variables like peak call times and call voume on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis. Moreover, your workload distribution needs to account for emergencies, surge or drop in call volumes, and employee fatigue.
By considering these factors and your agent’s experience and skillset, you’ll be able to chart out a fair and effective schedule.
8. Effective task management
Task management is the process of ensuring each task passes from initiation to completion without any hiccups.
In a call center, tasks can largely be divided into call and non-call.
Agents need to have the right tools and processes to manage all calls without needing too much manual effort. The right set of call center software can help them log critical call-related metrics without spending extra time.
Similarly, you can employ project management software to manage non-call tasks like training, data analysis, and monitoring activities.
All in all, your task management must ensure maximum efficiency and transparency.
9. Create backup plans
Weather disturbances, connectivity issues, and staffing issues will make it tough for you to provide any customer service.
It can lead to a drop in your overall call center operations at any minute. This can cause a loss of revenue and failure to meet targets.
A contingency plan to deal with such disturbances can help cut down potential losses.
One way is to use routing: forward some incoming calls to an external phone if the call center phones are not working. Such automation techniques can help you tackle unforeseen events easily.
A call center and contact center may also use Voice-over-Internet Protocol calling (VoIP) to enhance your call service level with powerful features such as auto-attendants, custom caller ID, and voicemail to email ID.
10. Regularly review your processes
To build a successful call center, you need to set benchmarks and review and refine your processes according to them constantly.
Regular team meetings with call center managers and employees can help you learn:
- On-the-ground problems your agents are facing.
- Whether (or how) you can resolve them.
Building this feedback loop is essential to know if a certain strategy is helping you provide good customer service and resolve customer issues effectively.
Implement an internal quality assurance system to check whether your service is up to the mark constantly.
11. Invest in the right technology
Early adopters of disruptive technologies often get a headstart. As a result, they can provide the best customer support and service, leading to more revenue, profits, and customer loyalty.
Especially in the last 20 years or so, technologies such as database management, advanced speech analytics software, predictive dialer, customer analytics, call center CRM software, and other call center software have changed the landscape.
Companies can now target more people across different regions with these tools and provide better customer service.
Additionally, with productivity and team management software like Time Doctor, call centers can further boost agent productivity.
Time Doctor is a powerful productivity management software used by different companies, from small businesses to big companies.
Some essential ways Time Doctor can help you include:
- Time tracking: Know how much time each agent is taking for specific tasks.
- Distraction alerts: Help your agents stay focused on their tasks by alerting them of distractions.
- Third-party extension: Increase the tool’s functionality using the Chrome extension to integrate with other apps such as Trello and Asana.
If starting a call center seems hard, managing it can be even more challenging. It can be tricky to find a balance between conflicting priorities.
Implementing the best practices mentioned here can help you streamline operations, provide better customer care service, and increase your call center’s revenue. This way, you’ll be able to deliver the best experience for your customers.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.