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Contact Center Solutions: Contact Center Makeovers

By: Greg Alcorn on June 20th, 2019

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Contact Center Solutions: Contact Center Makeovers

Contact Center Management

We speak with a lot of people whose core business is NOT contact centers and they often struggle because they don’t quite know enough to understand what information they are lacking? Or, maybe they have an idea that something is wrong, a process could be better, their team could do more? In all cases they are ready to make a change, but they aren’t sure where to start.

These are common issues – and they have an easy solution.

A CONTACT CENTER MAKEOVER.

When customer satisfaction is on the decline (or not improving) and you are at or over budget, you know that something has to change. Your call center cannot keep producing mediocre results. You have customers to worry about! It is time for a paradigm shift.

Call center makeovers help you correct any errors you might have made getting set up and resolve those issues so your customers can get the service they need. It is often easier said than done – contact center productivity can sometimes feel like a moving target, especially if you know the results you want but are unsure how to get there.

In this situation, many companies turn to outside help. That way, they can hold the vendor accountable for the call center’s performance instead of managing it themselves.

 

Real Life Example

Let’s paint a picture from one of our own client experiences. We were brought in to manage a call center in New York City. Its agents needed to do two things – assist customers with making travel reservations and provide customer service for the traveler during their trip.

Things were NOT going well.

Before GCS, customer satisfaction was zero, and no wonder. Wait times were as long as one hour and the culture was one of rudeness. Customers were having difficulty getting the call center to make and confirm their reservations, some reservations were lost, and sometimes the service they ordered never came at all. It was a mess. Yet, the entire facility was over budget.

The problem was the client knew they needed to a new contact center partner, but they didn’t know where to start. The client hired GCS to come in and assess where they were. We found several areas for improvement, but the biggest was workforce management. Their current outsource partner was not scheduling their agents to match the frequency of the calls. To make matters worse, each agent only had one job function. Some people took reservations while others handled customer service.

Can you imagine what happened?

Agents were getting overwhelmed with heavy call volume while others had nothing to do. It was stressing everyone out and eroding morale. The agents were in a situation where they were constantly rushing to the next call. Mistakes would happen, there were bottlenecks, and customers would have to wait on hold.

They weren’t bad people, but they were providing bad customer service.

GCS stepped in and turned things around. We cross-trained the agents so they could make reservations as well as provide customer service. Then, we revamped their workforce scheduling system so that most workers were scheduled to be on the phone during the center’s busiest times. Lunchtimes and breaks were tweaked so that we always had maximum coverage when people were most likely to call in.

The difference was like night and day. It’s been eight years, and we still manage that call center.

 


The Complete Guide to Contact Centers

Everything you need to know about Contact Center Solutions

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Contact Center Makeovers

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that way. You could choose the wrong company. They could lose sight of your interests, experience a bad run of personnel changes, or simply grow in a different direction so that they no longer have an emphasis on outsourcing call center operations.

It happens. That’s why you need to understand when and how contact center makeovers work, so you can participate in the process, however you choose to change. Whether you hire an organization like GCS to help you get there or you outsource your entire call center operations, here is some of our best advice.

 

Take Time to Understand the Call Center

You wouldn’t salt your meal without tasting it first, so don’t start making changes without taking the time to understand your call center. Take the time to identify your call center’s pain points – not just what you assume. Pay attention to patterns in call volume – don’t pretend that your casual observations are as useful as hard data. Look at your company’s culture and ask yourself whether the way your employees are doing things meshes with that philosophy.

You should also talk to your agents. At GCS, we know that feedback is important. It is not a one-way street. Talking to some of your current agents to see where some of your pain points lay is important too. They know what issues your customers have because they talk to them every day. Your agents know when the wording on your website is confusing or your online scheduler keeps crashing. Also, asking your agents what issues they have and any improvements they can imagine will help them feel important and valued.

 

Understand your Needs

Next, spend some time understanding exactly what you need. You’ve already assessed your performance in step one and you’ve talked to your agents in step two. Now spend some time clarifying exactly what you want to come from your call center makeover.

You have to be savvy about what you need and want to see in your call center performance. Metrics like the average speed of answer, the number of calls that have to be escalated, the rate of abandoned calls, and the frequency first-call resolution are important because they will help you quantify what good call center performance looks like. These numbers will also help you KNOW what a makeover of your call center should look like. We call it understanding the quantitative differences and expectations.

But don’t stop there. It’s not all numbers.

You will also want to add soft skills while still meeting those performance goals. Customer satisfaction comes just as much from issue resolution as it does from having a good service experience. Small details, like the tone of the agent’s voice or positive word choice (e.g. “We are open until 5” instead of “We close at 5”), can go a long way towards increasing customer satisfaction.

In other words, you will want to set up your call center to get the job done - but with a smile.

 

Micro is the New Macro

The qualifiers for a successful call center are the same for everyone. While the exact target metrics can change significantly, everyone needs to know the metrics, use the dashboard, and know about leading technologies (e.g. voice recognition, voice analytics, IVR, preview callbacks, CRM). Most call center managers are going to be good at that – that’s the business – but there’s more to a good call center than numbers.

There are the processes. This includes how your agents do things – the methods they follow and how you verify their compliance. Figure out what is important to you and find ways to emphasize that in the way your people do things.

The Micro is the macro. It is easier and often more effective to help 600 agents get 1% better than to push 60 agents to get 10% better.

Small process improvements can make a big difference by the time you account for every agent. Think of military time. If you have two systems, one in military time and the other on a 12-hour clock, it only takes a second to convert the time in your head, but all of those seconds add up. If you can eliminate one more thing your agents need to do, by setting up the system to convert the time, instead of the agent, you save seconds per agent, which adds up to minutes and eventually hours of time saved.

Once you’ve identified the outcomes you’d like to see and discussed your company’s pain points, it’s time to take action. Try implementing changes like workforce management and cross-training right away.

 

Analyze, Assess, and Improve

Before you can call any contact center makeover a success, you need to analyze and assess the success of your efforts. Contact center key performance indicators will help. The big thing to remember is that change isn’t always good. Continuous improvement is a wonderful concept, but change for the sake of change is never a good idea.

By examining your efforts and quantifying how your metrics have changed, you will get a better idea of your call center’s success and see where you should put your efforts in the future to keep doing better – for your company and your customers.

At this point, you may also want to have someone like GCS come in and have a look.

We can do an evaluation of your operations and can tell you whether certain metrics are being met, why certain metrics aren’t being met, and what to do about it. You can let us look at your culture and see if there is a mismatch. We also look at the focus of your operations. Some call centers have an internal focus. They set lunchtimes and plan scheduling based on the needs of their agents. We find that a more external focus – one that concentrates on the needs of your customers – is a better bet.

In most cases, it takes less than two days for us to write an operational evaluation and let you know where you stand. We look at our clients’ needs and make a plan based on those desired outcomes. Contact us today and let’s start a conversation about how GCS can make your call center great.


The Complete Guide to Contact Centers

Everything you need to know about Contact Center Solutions

Learn more