Like most companies, contact centers want their employees to be as productive as possible. But asking the world of them is unrealistic and counter-productive. Call centers frequently experience high rates of burnout, staff disengagement, and attrition, which can often be attributed to difficulties in managing productivity. And in the wake of the pandemic, these issues have magnified due to the transition to remote work.
You can’t simply ask your employees to work harder and expect success; there are so many better ways of tackling the productivity problem than this.
To help you achieve your productivity goals and improve your call center’s operations, we’ve outlined a number of ways you can increase productivity among your staff. Discover our top tips in the article below.
Current challenges facing contact centers
Many contact centers are still suffering in the aftermath of the pandemic and – like a lot of employers – are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain quality staff.
Employee engagement, attrition, and profitability are all aspects that call centers continue to struggle with. In our recent survey into productivity, 29% of employers said their biggest issue was attrition, another 29% said employee engagement, while 26% cited a lack of visibility of employee output or performance metrics.
The employee engagement – or rather, disengagement – problem is one that affects call centers of all types. Research by Gartner indicates that two out of every three call center employees feel disengaged from their job. That’s a huge percentage of your team.
It’s important to take note of employee engagement levels and to remedy any disengagement where possible. Engaged employees work harder, produce higher quality results, and are nearly 9 times more likely to stay with your company than to leave in the following year.
Disengagement, on the other hand, leads to employee attrition, poor productivity levels, and stunted company growth.
Employee attrition is another significant problem for contact centers. Defined as the turnover of staff that fail to be replaced, attrition affects all corners of contact centers.
Depending on the sector in which they work, call centers suffer from some of the highest turnover rates among all industries. Research suggests that average turnover rates for call centers come in at 30-45%. In some cases, these figures can be in triple digits, as the most poorly managed call centers continually hemorrhage employees.
Lastly, profitability is a constant battle. Ultimately, margins come down to your ability to deliver the agreed service levels with the most efficient mix of resources. In short, it’s a productivity challenge.
Visibility of performance data and employee output is absolutely crucial to managing resources and productivity, and thus margins. Companies with greater productivity levels reported higher rates of employee retention, according to Gallup, and saw boosted profits.
7 tips to improve call center productivity
To counteract the challenges that call centers face, it’s vital that you increase productivity among your employees. However, as previously noted, it’s not enough to simply ask them to work harder. This management style will end up being detrimental.
Instead, here are some top tips to revolutionize your contact center and enhance the overall productivity of your staff. Embracing new leadership styles and ways of working can reap vast benefits for your company.
1. Permit your agents to work autonomously
When staff are given the ability to work flexibly and on their own terms, morale and performance have been shown to improve. Flexibility in particular is a huge issue for employees now, and enabling them to choose where and when they work – at least to some degree – can dramatically boost engagement and retention.
A lot of contact center work or back-office admin can be quite repetitive and monotonous for employees to perform. When the processes staff have to follow are too restrictive it also means they are unable to think outside the box and find the best or most efficient way to get something done. For example, customer service can suffer if agents aren’t empowered to make decisions.
Allowing your employees greater autonomy and flexibility in their work entices them not only to work more productively, but also to stay at your company. The Hustle found that a lack of flexibility in a job was a leading cause of attrition, so permitting an autonomous working environment can bring great benefits.
2. Give your employees the right tools and training
They say that “a bad workman blames his tools” but a good worker with the wrong tools is also going to deliver poor results.
Without access to the software, data, or support they need, your staff won’t be able to do their jobs and meet your requirements. Even if they’re feeling productive, their results won’t reflect this since it’ll take them twice as long to complete their tasks. According to Calabrio, contact centers are often limited by their technological capabilities.
When it comes to training, think beyond induction and product training. Every staff member should have a defined, and personalized, development path as well as access to virtual training tools on-demand so they can learn during breaks and downtime. Studies have shown that workers are more loyal to employers when provided with development opportunities.
3. Incentivize and motivate your staff
Giving your employees due recognition for their efforts is a simple yet effective way to increase productivity. A little reward does indeed go a long way, for both employees and employers.
For one, incentives and rewards boost staff members’ work ethic dramatically. HBR discovered that motivated employees were more engaged and more productive in their work. This, in turn, led to a happier work environment, reduced attrition, and increased profitability.
It might also be worth publishing a staff leaderboard or individual scores for added motivation. This can benefit productivity levels, as team members work harder when they know their efforts are being noticed and appreciated. Recent findings indicate that symbolic awards like certificates and physical appreciation are powerful motivators for improving productivity.
4. Assess the downtime of your employees
Downtime is an excellent indicator of why you shouldn’t just ask for more hours from your staff or hire more people. It’s not necessarily the number of hours that employees are present that counts, but how they spend that time. In other words, employees may be putting too much time into unproductive tasks.
Assessing the downtime of your employees can reveal what times of the day they are most productive, as well as uncover any harmful working habits your employees may have. For example, are they taking too long after finishing one task before starting the next? Is that their fault or an issue with your systems and processes? In a contact center environment, for example, that means understanding wrap time.
Using a time-tracking tool – like Time Doctor – can give you real-time analytics into what employees are working on at any time, how long each task takes, and how long they spend in unproductive states.
5. Make use of integration and automation
Whatever type of contact center you operate you can make improvements to productivity by ensuring your systems and processes are joined up. You can also improve productivity by automating some repetitive and simple tasks.
Putting in place software such as an agent desktop with a scripting or workflow solution helps contact center agents and other outsourced staff be much more efficient, giving them access to the data and systems they need to complete tasks without having to constantly switch between multiple applications.
Integrating all the channels you manage into one interface or platform dramatically improves productivity and the customer experience. As well as enabling the delivery of a true omnichannel experience, this will also improve the first call resolution rate, as the agent will have access to everything they require to solve the customer’s problem during a single call. The same principle applies to other outsourced business tasks.
Simple Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can also dramatically speed up tasks such as back-office admin and data entry. These processes can be launched automatically by a workflow or process, or manually by frontline workers. For example, rather than having an employee copy data from one system to another, a simple automation could do the job for them and save several minutes or hours of work.
6. Allow your staff short but frequent breaks
Breaks to recuperate and regenerate productivity are as necessary as bathroom breaks. Short, five-minute pauses in work can allow agents time to give their brain a rest. In a contact center environment having a few minutes to reset after a particularly stressful or emotional call is crucial.
Short breaks are absolutely necessary to allow employees to maintain focus and energy. It goes back to autonomy and flexibility. Treating your employees as responsible adults capable of making good decisions is likely to improve your company’s overall productivity, stimulating growth and driving profitability.
7. Measure the productivity metrics of your call center
To maintain service levels and profit margins it’s imperative that BPO managers know what their operations productivity metrics should be and understand how their teams are performing against them at any moment.
That implies three things: First of all, you need to define what metrics to measure. These will normally depend on the service levels, or grade of service, agreed with senior leadership (or with each client, if you are an outsourced contact center). Secondly you need to set targets for each of those metrics. And finally, you need a reliable way to measure and report your results so that you can put in place a program of continuous improvement.
With the right tools in place, you should be able to measure the performance of individual teams and team members. That way you can understand what your best performers do that others don’t and build training programs around that.
Improve productivity at your BPO with Time Doctor
Time Doctor can provide your BPO with the tools it needs to boost productivity to new heights. Through its automated time-tracking software and real-time reporting features, Time Doctor gives managers valuable insights into the most productive times of the day and the highest-performing employees.
This means you can incentivize your employees, provide them with adequate support, and allow them the autonomy they need to feel happy in their job. With all these benefits, you’ll see your overall productivity levels dramatically increase!
Take 2nd Office, for example. They have seen a 20% increase in productivity since introducing Time Doctor, which gives them the reassurance they need to continue offering a flexible remote working environment.
To learn more about how your productivity can benefit from Time Doctor, book a demo today!
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.