As recent research shows, the U.S. call center industry is alive and well. According to the data, the industry saw a total of 22,265 new positions added in Q3 2015, minus 5,678 jobs that were cut due to force reductions and closures.
What this means is there’s an imperative for call centers to drive operational performance excellence in order to remain competitive in the industry. Not doing so risks losing valuable customers and call center talent in an industry that’s already known for high agent attrition rates.
But the question is: How?
The following is a look at 4 call center best practices that can help to retain top talent and provide for an improved experience for customers:
Evaluate Agents During the Interview Process
Agents are at the heart of any call center, considering they’re on the front lines of customer interaction. As such, it’s important to hire talent that will represent the company in a positive manner, motivate other agents, and drive performance that will make a difference in business growth.
Call Centre Helper recommends instituting a “competency-based approach” to interviewing, which involves running an assessment center for new recruits. In essence, this structured interview process allows a group of candidates to work through tasks and assessments; it also gives those in charge of hiring the opportunity to select the best performers in the group and train them together to become new call center agents.
Leverage Call Monitoring & Scoring
Following the agent interview and selection process, managers should be keyed into how best to facilitate ongoing agent support, growth, and training. Quality monitoring solutions such as speech analytics automatically monitor and score 100% of calls, helping managers deliver objective feedback and improve agent performance. Call scoring evaluation forms can also be helpful for enhancing quality assurance within the call center.
Effectively Communicate with Agents
In addition to call monitoring and scoring, managers and supervisors should also make it a point to schedule in time for targeted coaching sessions with agents. The advantages are two-fold: Managers get to share ideas for agent performance improvements and agents get to communicate their thoughts and impressions of their performance.
As noted in an inContact blog post on successful agent coaching, “a best practice approach is to have the agent do most of the speaking during a coaching session. Collaborated communication is beneficial by allowing the agent and supervisor to share their specific observations on strengths and opportunities.”
Incorporate Customer Feedback into Performance Improvements
It’s not just agents who should be the focus of call center improvements, however. Sometimes the best resource for feedback on company experiences and interactions is a company’s customers.
NewVoiceMedia research shows customers aren’t shy about expressing their opinions of customer service: 57% of those surveyed will give a business feedback to let them know they are performing poorly and 37% will take to social media to air their grievances (or praises) on a company’s customer service.
The key takeaway is to use customer feedback (surveys, social media, etc.) to make changes that will help to improve the customer experience in the future.
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to drive call center performance improvements – each call center will need to determine which approaches work best for the organization as a whole. The above tips are just a few of the ways to empower agents to continually improve their interactions with customers and, in turn, provide for better experiences for customers.
What are some of your call center best practices?