Businesses set up call centres with one goal in mind: Delivering a stellar customer experience (CX). But great CX needs more than just setting up the phone lines. It requires ongoing call centre management that ensures calls are being received and answered, customers are getting personalised experience, agents are productive, and the company’s goals are being met.
Call centre management is more critical post-COVID than ever before because the world has changed:
- With fewer physical offices/storefronts/branches to go to, more and more customers are making calls to businesses
- Especially in industries like travel, there continues to be a flux, needing brands to update customers regularly
- An unanswered call or a long wait can make customers more nervous than before
- Call centre agents are working from home, adding further complexity to the operations
Tools for efficient call centre management
To handle the sudden increase in volume and velocity of calls, businesses are leveraging a wide range of tools for call centre management. Most cloud call centres use management software that’s also hosted in the cloud and easily integrated with one another. Let us look at a few of them below.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
CRM tools are software that helps businesses track and manage customer interactions. A good CRM tool will include data about:
- Name and number of customers
- The products or services they use
- All previous interactions
- Open complaints/requests
Whenever an agent makes or receives a call, they can log in to a CRM to understand the relationship with the customer to help them accordingly.
Helpdesk software is typically an online ticketing system that tracks all requests/complaints received by customers. It also includes resources and a knowledge base that helps agents access the information they need to answer customer queries.
Cloud telephony is the modern equivalent of the traditional PBX systems. Unlike its predecessor, cloud telephony frees you from having to set up landlines and networks. Your agents can make and receive calls from anywhere, from their own mobile phones, without compromising their privacy. A good cloud telephony system has features such as multi-level IVR, click-to-call, virtual numbers, call recording, etc., in addition to seamless integration with CRMs to ensure that all the data is in one place.
As the name suggests, call monitoring software monitors calls that are made from or received at a call centre. Some tools just track the call information like number, time on call, agent assigned etc. Some also record the conversation entirely.
End-to-end visibility of your call centre is fundamental to measuring performance, identifying gaps and optimising outcomes. Your call centre analytics tool will paint a clear picture of calls received, time taken to resolve issues, agent productivity etc.
Best practices for call centre management in 2022
Once you’ve chosen the right tools for your needs, it’s time to set them up and follow best practices in call centre management.
Implement the tools to meet your organisational goals
Identify your KPIs and make sure that your tools are tuned to them. For example, if improving agent productivity is one of your top goals, choose a tool that can automate processes like dialling a number.
Train your agents to use the tools
All tools are only as good as the people using them. So, make sure that your teams are onboarded on all tools and understand their features completely. Use techniques like agent-pairing/mentorship to make it a habit to use these tools.
Automate as much as possible
Leverage features like click-to-call, auto-dialer, automatic call distributor, intelligent call routing, dynamic IVR etc., to eliminate mundane, repetitive tasks for your agents. Optimise their productivity without asking them to do more.
Use the tools to help the agents
The best way to make your agents embrace their tools more eagerly is to show them that it works. To do this, managers and leaders should use the tools as well:
- Look at the analytics and discuss performance with your agents
- Use the call recordings to show them what’s great and what’s not
- Go through the metrics and incentivise top performance
- Encourage friendly competition with leaderboards
Call centre metrics to measure performance
An integral part of call centre management is to measure performance and make ongoing improvements. Here are the top metrics you need to track.
First response time: This is the time that a customer waits for, on average, before connecting with an agent. Lower the time, better the customer experience.
First call resolution: This is the measure of the number of customers who got their queries resolved in the first call vs the total number of customer calls made. The customer experience is likely to be better if they don’t need to keep calling back to get help for the same problem.
Call abandonment rate: This is the percentage of calls abandoned by the customer because the call centre team took too long to answer.
Customer satisfaction score: Typically, contact centres ask customers to rate their experience on a scale of 1-5. This helps understand the effectiveness of the call centre.
Calls per agent: This is the most fundamental measure of agent productivity. You can review this metric against the goals and average performance of your teams.
Call centre occupancy rate: This is the time agents spend on call vs the time they are free. For example, when an agent spends 80% of his work time speaking to customers, his occupancy rate is 80%.
Staff turnover rate: This is the percentage of employees leaving (during a particular period)/total number of employees. This metric measures an organisation’s ability to retain its employees and keep them happy.
For more call centre metrics and how to use this, read this blog post.
Set your call centre up for success
The success of every call centre depends on three factors: The people who are speaking to your customers, the tools that enable them to do their job, and the processes that keep them on track. Good call centre management practices bring all three of these effectively.