Successful call center management requires much more than scheduling agents to answer customer calls. It involves many different call center management skills, processes, and strategies. In fact, call center managers need to;
- stay constantly informed on call center best practices
- know how to best leverage call center technology to improve customer service experience
- track critical call center metrics and KPIs
- ensure effective hiring/onboarding, engagement, and retention of call center agents
- balance operational costs and revenues
Call center management – Scheduling and Workforce
Prioritize effective agent scheduling
To prevent agent burnout and increase productivity, have a well-thought-out schedule. It ensures the team is staffed appropriately, especially during the busiest hours. According to a study from the Aragon Institute of Health Sciences, people who work more than 40 hours a week are six times more likely to suffer from burnout. This was compared to those who work less than 35 hours per week.
Use flexible work models and telecommuting
Flexible work models can greatly improve call center performance and benefit both, agents and managers. Consider exploring remote staffing opportunities or allowing current agents to occasionally telecommute. Research proves that many employees who either work flexible hours or sometimes from home are more productive than other employees.
Take agent preferences into account
Apart from taking agent skills, specialization and type of calls handled into consideration when creating the schedule, encourage agents to share their own preferences. Give them the flexibility to adjust their own schedules, exchange, give away, or take on shifts from one another. You can also provide them with options such as ability to work fewer days but with longer shifts, or have flexible start and end times.
Measuring critical call center metrics and KPIs
Define KPIs and metrics that make sense for your organization
Consistently keeping track of call center metrics and KPIs is an essential part of the call center quality management process. However, avoid measuring too much so you don’t end up drowning in countless metrics and data that don’t make sense for your organization. Since there is no one-size-fits-all for call center KPIs, focus only on those metrics that matter. Together with KPI tracking, perform a call audit from time to time. This will help you figure out where your call center needs improvements.
Ensure KPIs are shared and understood by all agents
Once you’ve defined meaningful metrics and KPIs for your call center, make sure they are shared with everyone on your team. The agents should always be aware of which KPIs to keep in mind in their decision-making when interacting with customers, especially when the goal is to improve performance. However, giving them too many KPIs to focus on might be confusing. This is why it is important to ensure they are understood seamlessly by everyone.
Balance quality and productivity metrics
While agent productivity call center KPIs such as; Average Speed of Answer (ASA) and Average Handle Time (AHT) are essential to sustain a high-performing call center team, focusing too much on those KPIs can eventually have a negative impact on the quality of interaction with customers. Thus, resulting in decreased customer satisfaction. Try to balance efficiency and productivity KPIs with those that measure success and customer satisfaction.
Hiring and training call center agents
Build an ideal candidate profile before you start hiring
Every organization has its unique work culture, systems, and requirements for the role. Therefore, it might not be suitable for all employees. It’s important to hire the right people from the start. Create a demo profile of an ideal candidate. It should encompass all the needed customer service skills/qualities/behaviors that are required of a successful call center employee. After that just look for the candidates that match your ideal profile.
Use situational and behavioral questions when interviewing
When interviewing, ask potential candidates situational judgment questions to find out how they would handle a hypothetical scenario. Moreover, you can ask behavioral questions to see how they demonstrate their call center management skills. Those will give you valuable insight into their experience, customer-focus, problem-solving skills and dependability. Thus, help you in selecting the most appropriate candidates.
Have a solid agent onboarding and training program
Since the turnover rate in call centers is usually high, having a solid onboarding and training program is essential. Successfully onboarding employees during their first year on the job increases retention by as much as 25%. A thoughtful, holistic onboarding process and ongoing training also result in more knowledgeable, productive and confident agents who are able to make better customer service decisions.
How to engage and motivate call center agents
Create an employee-centric environment
Low levels of happiness and lack of engagement in the workplace are known to lead to high agent attrition rates, poor performance, and decreased productivity. Sufficient compensation is an important motivator. But besides that, valuable benefits and a comfortable workspace, create a friendly, engaging, employee-centric environment. Therefore, call center employees achieve a better work-life balance to ensure they feel happy, valued, and satisfied.
Set attainable and clearly-defined goals for your team
Set well-defined goals that inform the agents what exactly is expected of them and when. While larger, strategic goals of customer satisfaction may seem nearly unachievable. Split them into smaller, attainable action plans for everyone on the team. When expectations are clear, the call center employees are more engaged and motivated, while managers can easily measure progress toward goal completion.
Use gamification to drive agent engagement and motivation
Use call center gamification as a way to improve agent engagement and drive motivation. With gamification in place, call center employees are encouraged to compete in completing objectives and outpacing other agents. The rewards may include badges, recognition on leaderboards, physical prizes, etc. Not only does it make their everyday routine more fun but it can also greatly improve agent performance.
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Frequently asked questions
How can you prevent agent burnout?
To prevent agent burnout and increase productivity, have a well-thought-out schedule. It ensures the team is staffed appropriately, especially during the busiest hours.
How can you motivate call center agents?
Set well-defined goals that inform the agents what exactly is expected of them and when. When expectations are clear, the call center employees are more engaged and motivated, while managers can easily measure progress toward goal completion.
Why are call center onboarding and training so important?
Successfully onboarding employees during their first year on the job increases retention by as much as 25%. A thoughtful, holistic onboarding process and ongoing training result in more knowledgeable, productive, and confident agents who are able to make better customer service decisions.
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