Call Center Success Starts with Supporting Agents
A call center is only as good as its agents.
The two key metrics of ultimate success within the call center are customer satisfaction and cost containment, and both intersect squarely with call agents.
First, good agents lead to better customer experiences, the ultimate reason for having a call center. Whether this is handling customer issues or fielding questions about a product, a good agent is what ultimately leads to satisfied customers.
Cost containment also directly relates to agents, since one of the biggest costs to a call center is agent churn. The constant hiring and training of new agents both lowers effectiveness and adds to the overall costs of operating a call center, so reducing agent churn can greatly reducing the cost of a call center.
It reasons, then, that achieving the ultimate goals of the call center require supporting its agents.
Three of the biggest ways to support agents are through proper training, good scheduling, and thoughtful call center design.
Let’s start with design.
A happy agent is an agent that will stay with a company longer, reducing churn. A Herman Miller (News - Alert) study showed that just having a view of the outside from the call center can have a productivity increase of between 6 and 7 percent. The company also found that through better physical design of the call center, it could cut agent churn from 60 percent to a mere 17 percent. That’s a big change!
The elements of a good work environment include not only views of the outside, but also airy cubicles, ergonomic chairs, responsive keyboards and pleasing wall colors. Given the gains that Herman Miller uncovered, it is worth the cost to hire an interior decorator to help develop a good work environment.
Proper training also is big key. When an agent is unprepared for the questions and issues he or she will face on the floor, job stress increased and performance is decreased. It is easy to overlook training and make it an afterthought, but the successful call center will bake training into the routine and make it periodic instead of just a cursory introduction for new agents.
One way to boost training is through call recording and regular review.
A third very important component is agent scheduling. Not all agents are equally skilled in all areas, and it is important for the ultimate success of the call canter that there is the right mix of expertise on the floor at any given time.
Proper scheduling also enables the right amount of agents to deal with call volume. Too few agents and the call volume will be overwhelming and hold times will be too long. Too many agents and there will be both wasted manpower and bored agents.
With scheduling software, however, it is relatively easy to ensure the right agents are on the floor and also the right volume.
Successful call centers know that it is not just the customer they must focus upon—it also is important take care of the agents who service the calls.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi