Here’s a scenario we’re probably all familiar with: you place a call into a customer service line, and the automated system puts you on hold. You wait. And wait. And wait. Meanwhile, the news that’s being played in the background has changed four or five times until it’s not even news anymore. And yet…you continue to wait.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? And those of us who work in contact center management probably think the same thing. This place must be understaffed. It’s not equipped to handle call volumes. They don’t have the right tools in place. Maybe the employees just aren’t motivated enough.
We certainly don’t think that the place we’re calling is managed well or running at maximum productivity. Instead, we’re more likely to focus on the mistakes that must have been made. Perhaps the call center manager didn’t spend enough time calculating the right number of people to staff the center. Maybe they set task-oriented goals that do not resonate with the staff, or have yet to adopt an omnichannel approach that gives those employees a complete view of each customer’s journey – or don’t have the right data to even provide that view.
These are the telltale signs of a contact center that needs to be turned around, pronto. Fortunately, it’s never too late to make changes for the better. Managers who have made mistakes in the past may consider some of the following ideas to get back on track and create a well-optimized, highly productive, and customer-focused contact center.
Create an accurate staffing plan and employ a workforce management (WFM) tool
Being prepared to handle service volume is a task that needs daily attention in real time and hiring staff for the center is only one part of a much larger task. A WFM tool assists managers in the greater tasks associated with staffing, including HR management, agent performance and training, and data management. Without a WFM tool, managers have to complete these tasks manually, which is neither an efficient nor an effective use of their time.
Set appropriate goals for employees
The best employee goals are clear and attainable and are focused on employee engagement — not on meeting metrics set by managers. When employees are motivated by the right goals and are given appropriate feedback, they are inclined to attain their goals and their performance will improve.
Employee engagement and job satisfaction are critical to building an organization that continually improves and values every employee. Goals — the right types of goals — are critical to production management and, when done correctly, can cultivate the desire to succeed and succeed often.
Embrace an omnichannel approach to providing customer service
Instead of interacting with customers via single touchpoints in isolation, an omnichannel philosophy sees customer interactions as parts of a holistic journey. Contact center employees interact with customers on multiple platforms and have the ability to proactively use the information they gather to engineer great outcomes for customers.
Customers experience an omnichannel environment when they feel that the company they contact is composed of team members that are all on the same page with the same goal. The team provides service as if they know what customers are thinking, often offering guidance before questions are even asked.
Use dashboards and data analytic tools to gain insight into operations
For true transparency and accessibility in day-to-day operations, integrated systems, or dashboards, give employees and managers the ability to track customer journeys across time and channels. Dashboards also help contact centers gain valuable insight into the points along the journey, so that they can deliver more personalized results and offer solutions before customers even know they need them.
Similarly, data analytic tools to help managers keep track of the bigger production picture, such as real production vs. forecasted production, service level agreement delivery, and so forth. These same tools also give managers and employees the ability to drill into the data for insight, such as whether specific teams have met production goals or if employees have met their individual goals for the day. Reports and analytic tools allow for easy access, in real time, making production management transparent and actionable.
Don’t let your contact center be the one that keeps customers waiting. Use an omnichannel philosophy, help employees set appropriate and achievable goals, and employ WFM tools and dashboards to create a well-oiled machine that puts a value on staff and places great customer service front and (contact) center.
This article was originally published in Contact Center World by John Loughlin, Vice President, Operations at HighPoint Global.