Operating a successful call center in 2021 is a big undertaking. But it’s not impossible—especially when you prioritize these three things.
The building blocks of a successful call center are well-known: (1) The team that makes the work happen, (2) the technology that supports them, and (3) the customers they interact with. Here’s why putting these three elements first leads to increased success.
3 Essential Priorities that Make Call Centers Successful
#1. Team Members
Your team of agents, managers, analysts and other leaders are what stand between your business and a satisfied (or unsatisfied) customer. The most successful call centers put their team first to foster a positive workplace environment. One that properly trains, retains and rewards team members.
But high turnover rates are a pressing issue for many call centers. In 2019, the average turnover rate for call centers in the U.S. was between 30 and 45 percent (about 20 to 35 percent higher than the normal turnover rate in other industries).
Call centers can’t be as successful if your team is constantly changing. Why?
First, you have to spend more time recruiting and training new team members, and less time actually doing the work that makes your business successful.
Second, when team members regularly move on, the pattern indicates that the problem is due to your own operations—not the individual team member.
So, take a good look at your workforce and retention rates. More often than not, agent dissatisfaction is due to three things:
- Clunky, disparate systems that make the job more difficult.
- Manual, repeatable tasks (that could be automated) that make the job disengaging.
- Poor visibility into agent performance, and KPIs that focus more on quantity instead of quality.
These three problems create a negative agent experience and get in the way of your call center’s success.
But once you recognize this problem, there are steps you can take to solve it and put your team first.
Bring your team together through a robust training and engagement program, train team members on the tools they use, and help them understand what success looks like. This will inspire them to go the extra mile for customers, instead of just trying to meet a quota. Then, reward them for all their hard work.
As mentioned, disparate systems and a lack of training on tools gets in the way of the agent experience and your call center’s success.
This is because many call center teams juggle up to ten different tools to interact with each other and their customers. But some of these tools may be redundant or create more problems than they’re worth.
Successful call centers optimize and integrate their technology stack. Many also have migrated to the cloud, freeing them from hardware, installation and capital costs that come with on-premises hosting—and improving data sharing, productivity and security in the process.
Consider prioritizing only the essential tools, which include:
- Telephony software
- Call recording & monitoring
- Internal collaboration & communication tools (like Slack and Zoom)
- External, customer-facing communication tools (live chat, SMS, social media)
All these essential technologies need to work seamlessly, allowing your agents to use them without headaches and deliver a better customer experience.
To start, try integrating your telephony system with your CRM or ticketing solution. This type of integration makes call centers more successful by:
- Creating an omnichannel support experience for your customers.
- Keeping team members happier and reducing turnover.
- Improving critical KPIs.
- Reducing overall costs and increasing ROI.
#3. Customer Experience
Last but not least, successful call centers care about and even obsess over the customer experience.
After all, call centers exist to serve customers, addressing their concerns, answering their questions and providing value when they need it.
When you put team members and technology first, the benefits trickle down to the customer experience. Call centers that prioritize customer experience practice the following behaviors:
Especially today, but regardless of what’s going on in the world, your representatives should talk to your customers with empathy, letting customers know that you’re there for them.
This means using an appropriate tone is essential, no matter how out-of-line a customer might seem. Use straightforward language that is calming and honest. Express your gratitude for their past business and support. Even when a customer complaint seems irrational, approach the situation with compassion and communicate clearly and concisely.
Speaking of communication, ongoing communication is critical to preserving your customers’ trust in your business.
Now more than ever, the last thing customers want is to feel like they’re speaking to an empty void. Unfortunately, this is a problem for some businesses. Key findings from a 2020 customer service benchmark report found that:
- 62% of companies do not respond to customer service emails.
- 90% of companies do not acknowledge or inform the customer that an email has been received.
- Only 20% of companies are able to answer questions in full on the first reply.
A communication breakdown is beyond frustrating for customers and could put your relationship with them in jeopardy.
Successful call centers increase the frequency of their communications to stay top of mind with customers.
Customers value transparency.
If your company is experiencing increased demand or supply chain disruptions, for example, shipping times may be impacted. This could aggravate customers. But if you communicate the disruption and apologize for the delay, they will be more likely to understand.
How do you know if you’re prioritizing customer experience? Look for qualitative feedback and sentiment from reviews and social media. Also, keep your team accountable by looking at meaningful metrics like:
- Average speed to answer.
- First call resolution.
- Customer satisfaction rating (CSR).
- Average handle time.
- Hold time.
Improving any or all of these metrics will ultimately lead to a better customer experience—and greater success for your call center.
Successful call centers prioritize their team members, technology and customers they serve.
Call center technology is the bridge that connects your team to your customers. So, start by improving that area and you will see benefits spread to your team, customers and business as a whole.
Contact our team to learn how we can make your technology work together better—so your agents can focus on delighting your customers.