2020 brought change – and lots of it – to businesses everywhere. As a result, contact centers are looking for ways to stabilize and future proof their operations in 2021. Here are 5 strategies that can help.

Last year, contact centers were uniquely impacted by the pandemic.

They saw a huge spike in call volume across industries as customers needed more information, direction and even comfort. While customer experience had never been more important, it also became more difficult to manage. Call surges, the rapid shift to virtual and a significant drop in capacity saw to that.

And speaking of capacity, turnover has always been an issue for call centers. But it’s only getting worse as workers become less engaged and more fearful of returning to work.

With calls at an all-time high, and support capacity in such an unpredictable state, wait times will only get worse. Unless, of course, contact centers can figure out how to stabilize operations.

Here are five contact center strategies that can help.

5 Contact Center Strategies to Stabilize Operations

Strategy #1. Launch Training & Engagement Program  

It’s time to rethink the way you are engaging and training your team members.

This is because your representatives are what stand between your business and a happy (or unhappy) customer. Focus on your team and connect your agents with each other to foster a positive workplace environment (with lower turnover).

Bring Your Virtual Team Together  

Agents are experiencing higher stress levels, but they’re also not as engaged in a virtual, distributed environment. It’s critical to check in with your team and connect them with each other.

A great way to do this is by refreshing your training program to re-engage existing and possibly burnt-out team members—and excite the new ones you’re onboarding. A strong, connected team of agents will help you weather future storms.

Train Team Members On Tools

If you’re still mostly remote, make sure everyone has been trained on the tools that help support virtual operations. Get everyone on the same page so you can make the most of your existing team and the technology they’re using.

Train Team Members On Performance KPIs  

Make sure you have the right level of visibility into your agents’ performance. That way, you can reward high performers and respond proactively about any problems before an agent becomes discouraged and leaves.

It’s not just about the number of calls. What about ticket resolution time, first-call resolution and customer satisfaction rates?

Train your workforce on these metrics – what they mean, why they’re important, and how they are being measured against them – so they understand and follow through. This will encourage them to go the extra mile for customers, instead of just trying to meet a call quota. If your agents know and understand the metrics they are working with, you will have more success in 2021.

Strategy #2. Build a Hybrid Workforce

Speaking of virtual: The talk of the town has consistently been about “the new normal” and how to get everyone back into the office.

But what if everyone going back to work isn’t the best option?

Well, it’s certainly not the only one.

A hybrid workforce is fast becoming a popular strategy for an increasing number of contact centers.

Having agents in the office and others working remotely will make your contact center more agile – and future proof. It will also help you pivot and scale capacity quickly in times of high volume. This kind of flexibility and diversity when it comes to skills, resources and support will be critical to thriving in 2021.

Strategy #3. Deploy Self-Service Tools

More and more contact centers are finding creative ways to engage customers without bogging down their workforce – even in the current era of high call volume and reduced capacity.

Self-service tools can help you create a digital, omnichannel experience that is still positive for customers. Basic requests can be addressed through chatbots, online FAQs and knowledgebases. This allows your team members to focus on the requests that need more attention and empathy.

But don’t deploy self-service tools in a silo. Make it easy for customers to reach an agent promptly if they need one. Human connection is critical. There’s nothing more frustrating than calling a business and facing off with an automated voice, when you really just need to talk to a person.

Strategy #4. Optimize Contact Center Software

Many call center teams juggle up to ten different tools to interact with both customers and each other. But do you really need that many?

If your technology is getting in the way of your goals, then maybe it’s time to consolidate. Maximize ROI by optimizing your contact center technology stack down to the essentials.

These include:

  • Telephony software
  • CRM
  • Call recording & monitoring
  • Internal collaboration & communication tools (like Slack and Zoom)
  • External, customer-facing communication tools (live chat, SMS, social media)

If you haven’t made the move to the cloud yet, now’s the time. The cloud frees you from having to worry about hardware, installation and capital costs that on-premises hosting comes with. Plus, cloud hosting drastically improves data sharing, increases productivity and minimizes security risks – must-haves if you’re completely virtual or considering a hybrid workforce model.

Strategy #5. Integrate Contact Center Technology

Taking strategy #4 a step further, you need all your contact center technologies to work together seamlessly to deliver the best agent and customer experience.

The most common of these contact center strategies is integrating your telephony system with your CRM or ticketing solution.

For example, you can maximize Zendesk’s functionality by establishing a highly configurable and customizable connection between your instance of Zendesk and your telephony or VoIP system.

These types of integrations help you:

  • Create an omnichannel support experience for your customers.
  • Keep team members happier and reduce turnover.
  • Improve critical KPIs.
  • Reduce overall costs and increase ROI.

Essential: Prioritize Customer Experience

Of course, we have to mention the importance of prioritizing the customer experience. This isn’t in the list because it’s a must-have strategy—it’s what defines a contact center. And the first five contact center strategies will ultimately trickle down into building a better customer experience. Because customers can feel it when your people, processes and technology are working together seamlessly.

Conclusion

These five contact center strategies, and the umbrella priority of customer experience, work best when they work together. Want to stabilize contact center operations in 2021? Start by experimenting with your training program, workforce distribution, self-service tools, and technology stack – and then integrate everything into one, seamless solution.

Learn how CDC Software can help your contact center improve CX with the right supporting technology integrations by contacting us