Time is money. It’s a cliché, yeah. But think about it: How much time and call center efficiency is your team losing in a day to long-winded calls? What about the endless games of phone tag, calls sent to the wrong person, or clicking around outdated or irrelevant software just to find updated customer information?
Consider how you’re using time in your call center and you’ll find that call center efficiency drives both customer retention and profitability. By giving more time back to your call center agents, you save (and make) more money.
According to a recent survey by PwC of 1,300 global CEOs, 77% say their primary focus is creating operational efficiencies and driving revenue growth. Leaders recognize that making processes run smoothly will improve their business and contribute to a better customer experience all around.
But, where does this extra time come from? What processes need to be smoothed over? With a few tricks up your sleeve and some operational changes, your call center can improve efficiency. To help, we’ve gathered a few handy tips to make sure your call center efficiency flourishes.
Call Center Efficiency Tip No. 1: Clean up your agents’ workflows.
A client calls in — they need the documentation and follow up notes from their latest appointment with you. When you go to look for it, their profile wasn’t updated. So you go to the folder that holds all customer notes. But when you open it, it’s an utter mess. Maybe you can reach out to the manager the customer had met with. How did they say to reach out? By Slack? Can you transfer the call straight to them? Or is that a big no no. Meanwhile, the customer is sitting on hold, growing annoyed.
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common for call center agents. One of the trickiest things about being a customer service rep is finding the information you need to help your customer. According to Aberdeen, agents spend 14% of their time looking for information to help customers.
Daily, agents also face roadblocks in their work. As many as 39% say that it’s tough to collaborate, 26% say they’re dealing with outdated tech and 25% don’t have real-time access to relevant data. All of these roadblocks waste time and harm customer relationships. So what can you do?
Take time to clean up processes and workflow for your call center agents. Here are some areas to focus on:
- Develop a clear organizational chart. Make it clear who is responsible for what, what resources are available to agents, and how they should be contacting outside help when it’s needed. Meet with team leads in other departments to establish what will work best across the company. Breaking down those silos between teams will also build internal support between departments.
- Decide how you will prioritize support. Do you help customers on a first-come, first-serve basis? Or can you prioritize by customer issue, status or channel choice? Know how you’ll determine these things so you can organize your team around your customer needs.
- Regularly clean up. Use idle time as a team to clean up files and resources or set a quarterly goal to update info. Make sure internal tools, customer profiles, and your knowledge bases are up to date.
- Use self-service tools to take some of the pressure off your agents. Build an FAQ page or help guides and videos to send to customers quickly to answer their most common questions.
Call Center Efficiency Tip No. 2: Train for the team you want to be.
Let me give you a tip: call center efficiency is not only about how your agents perform. As the manager, you’re responsible for training your team to be the best they can be. During initial onboarding and whenever you have downtime as a team, prioritize training. Use any spare time to train and coach to be the team you want to be.
Here are some ways to do just that:
- Run through workflows together and role-play different scenarios so you know your agents know what to do in different situations.
- Create training resources — e-books, videos, and internal articles — to serve as a reference for your agents.
- Set team meetings monthly or quarterly to talk through new issues or scenarios that your team is encountering. Or take that time to train on new technology or processes to make sure you’re always on the same page.
- Set up 1:1 meetings as often as possible to check on individual agent performances.
Call Center Efficiency Tip No. 3: Lean on automation when you can.
Automation technology is becoming increasingly popular in call centers. Automation, when used wisely, makes tedious tasks manageable for your call center team. Free your agents from menial tasks like routing customers on call to the right person, sending self-service articles to customers, or auto-filling customer information. Bots are ideal for guiding customers to serve themselves. Then, no customer gets neglected or left waiting in the process.
When your agents aren’t bogged down with tedious duties, they have more time to focus on complicated customer interactions. A robot can’t always help customer situations when empathy and emotional intuition are needed. But they can help your team prepare for each interaction by predicting how customers will respond to an email or on a call. Automation is available for you to cut out the tedious and tricky elements of call center work, leaving space for better agent performance, efficiency, and development.
Call Center Efficiency Tip No. 4: Add texting to your omnichannel solution.
Customers want to reach your business in the way that’s most convenient for them. Your goal is to offer a customer experience that meets your customers’ needs, and a seamless omnichannel solution lets your customers choose their preferred communication channel and know there won’t be hiccups along the way. My tip for better call center efficiency? Add texting to your suite of channels.
Pew Research estimates that texting is the most widely and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans texting at least once a day. (But let’s be honest — most of us text way more than once a day.) For a more efficient call center, add texting to optimize your agents’ time. Texting is a fast and flexible channel for both your customers and your agents. With texting, your team can help multiple customers on text threads simultaneously instead of being trapped on the phone with just one customer at a time.
This inevitably lowers your call volume, opening up time for agents on the phone to help the more complicated customer cases via phone.
This post originally published September 20, 2018 and was updated on June 30, 2022.