Keep Your Call Center Running Smoothly with these Best Practices
Running a call center can be a difficult task. Some days, the job is easier than others for managers. Between managing agents, dealing with high turnover rates, weeding through lists of potential new hires and fixing any problems that may have been caused by a poor customer call, being a call center manager can become difficult. There are several “best practices” floating around the Internet—almost too many to count—so how are managers supposed to know which ones actually work best? We’ve compiled a list of our favorites here to help managers keep their call centers operating efficiently.
Use customer satisfaction to measure success. Many call centers operate under the belief that the quicker the phone call, the better the job done. That’s not necessarily true because using average handling time to measure agent success may put pressure on agents to get off the phone as quickly as possible. If that’s their main concern, then they’re not concentrating on actually helping the customer. So, chances are, no real resolution was found in that short phone call. Instead, measure success in terms of customer satisfaction. Rewarding agents for first call resolution and high customer satisfaction scored is much more effective than pressuring agents to finish a call quickly.
Promote strong agent-manager relationships. The call center runs on the motto that communication is key—how else is an agent supposed to help a customer? That motto shouldn’t be restricted to the agent-customer relationship, though; it should also extend to agents and managers. Managers should schedule in targeted coaching sessions with agents; this will allow managers to point out areas of improvement, and agents can voice any concerns to the managers. It’s important for both sides to be able to communicate their thoughts and views freely.
Avoid negative language. The way a script reads can make or break a call center. What agents consider to be acceptable language may not always be inoffensive. That’s why scripts are typically full of professional language that invokes an upbeat tone. However, it’s important to train agents to avoid certain phrases such as “I’m going to put you on hold.” There are plenty of better ways to say that same thing, such as telling the caller that they’re going to be transferred to an expert who can better help them. Oftentimes, people call in because they’re upset about a product or performance. Negative language only increases that tension, and should therefore be avoided.
Encourage continual growth and improvement. As with all things, there’s always more to learn. Even experts have room to grow, as there’s always someone who knows at least one more thing than you do. Managers should promote a environment of continuous growth in the call center for this reason. It’s easy to become complacent in any job, but it’s arguably easier when you’re answering phones all day. One way to promote this atmosphere is through team meetings. Agents and managers alike can review the team over the past week or month (depending on how often you want to have these meetings) and share their thoughts. This creates an open discussion about areas agents are doing well in and where they need to improve.