14 Oct 3 Essential Call Center Optimization Strategies
Every company longs for a better customer service experience, so they try to improve how their call center agents communicate with their callers. But are those changes beneficial? Are they based on proven strategies?
The answer should be “yes,” but that is often not the case—many companies try to chase short-term improvement metrics and neglect the bigger picture.
How do you see the bigger picture? By investing in call center optimization. But before we go further, let’s first address what call center optimization is to eliminate confusion or assumptions.
What Is Call Center Optimization?
Call center optimization is a process of properly preparing customer service agents to complete customer calls efficiently. This optimization is often supported by employee training and software that drives efficiency in the workplace.
While the goals of call center optimization are multi-faceted, they focus on two things:
- Improving the customer experience
- Inspiring call center agents to do their jobs well
With these goals in mind, contact center optimization helps ensure enough agents are working to properly address the call volume, thus cutting down on caller wait times and maintaining customer satisfaction.
Variables to Consider When Optimizing
Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. A BPO can try its best to make the stars align and get enough agents on a given day to handle the number of incoming calls, but that doesn’t usually work very well. As such, call centers must take into account the following variables when planning for optimization:
- Call volume estimate: Number of calls that comes in below, at, or above the forecasted level
- Attendance rate: Percentage of agents scheduled who show up for work
- Handle time: Duration of calls and necessary/required post-call processing
A call center or BPO can be considered successful if it can manage the above variables. Admittedly, some of the factors that relate to them are completely outside the control of a BPO—but doing your best to monitor and manage the variables you can control makes call center optimization so effective.
Optimization Strategies to Make Your Call Center Successful
Let’s take a closer look at what successful call center strategies might look like concerning the variables.
Call Forecasting System
Call forecasting is the foundation of what makes call center optimization successful—it determines how many new customer service agents need to be added to an account and when. Creating a data-backed forecasting strategy should be a top priority.
ClearSource BPO forecasts our call volume using two variables:
- Historical trends: By using data from months and years past, we can gauge a relatively reliable estimate of how busy certain seasons will be. This involves looking at yearly and monthly trends, changes in day-of-week contact arrival patterns, and channel correlations (like a call-to-email ratio).
- Demand drivers: After completing a baseline of our historical analysis, we can then consider variables that would increase call volume and demand. This includes estimating the impact of website sales, system changes, or any other issues involving customer impact.
Since forecasting systems are an essential part of the BPO industry, there are a couple of call center improvement strategies that you should consider adopting:
- Get an industry-standard workforce management system: Software services like Dialpad or CallShaper help call centers forecast their call volumes and schedule call center agents for appropriate influxes of volume. These services also gather metrics about your calls and interactions, which can help with the other strategies we’ll discuss.
- Onboard a team of workforce management analysts: Analysts are just as important as the data they observe. They give you actionable insights into the data you collect and adjust forecasting strategies as new data is revealed. You should hire a lead for this team with robust experience with managing call center forecasting and scheduling.
We’ve found that absenteeism can only be reduced by a single factor: a quality leader. If a team leader is someone by whom a customer service representative wants to be led, the employee will show up for work.
While you look for and train new team leads, keep the following guideposts in mind. ClearSource uses these (and more) to hire our capable and inspiring leaders:
- Focus on customer service agent success: Leaders should focus on the happiness and well-being of their agents—at least as much as they focus on delivering quality customer service. Leaders that do this will find ways to motivate their agents to be more productive.
- Communicate changes in customer service processes: Call centers work to improve the customer experience by implementing changes in processes. Your leaders will need to be privy to these changes and communicate how they affect an agent’s approach to customer care.
Average Handle Time
The average handle time affects two things: 1) the customer’s satisfaction with the service experience and 2) your agent’s satisfaction with their job. The longer both of them have to be on the phone, the more exhausted and burned out they will feel.
Longer average handle times might be the culprit of:
- An ineffective call routing system
- Inexperienced/uninterested customer service agents
- A lack of a call review process
There’s no way to snap your finger and decrease average handle times. This is a process your managers will help your agents to improve. Here are some ways to do that:
- Record and review your calls: By reviewing an agent’s performance in real-time, team leaders can help them identify what they did well and what they can improve on in their customer interactions. Ideally, this performance review occurs at least weekly.
- Hire agents that know the product: Better yet, hire agents that are fans of the product. This knowledge base and enthusiasm helps agents know exactly how to assist their customers better because they’ve likely experienced similar issues.
Put Optimization Into Practice
Whether you’re a company looking for a better-optimized outsourced call center or you’re a call center that needs to improve its processes, we hope you gained some insight today.
If you have any further questions regarding call center optimization or are interested in working with a BPO that leads the industry in customer satisfaction, don’t hesitate to give ClearSource BPO a call.