Call center management presents a number of challenges for managers. To maintain the quality of customer service and engage call agents, you need a varied mix of strategies.
Here are 13 best practices you should apply today for effective call center management.
13 best practices for call center management
1. Hire good call agents
Call centers handle phone calls from prospects and customers—people looking for answers, solutions, and support. Many also make outgoing calls to conduct surveys and get feedback from customers. That’s why call agents are the deciding factor in retaining current customers and attracting potential ones.
There’s no doubt that call agents with effective customer service skills and a helpful, enthusiastic attitude can easily satisfy even the most difficult customers. You should pay more attention to the screening and interview round to find good employees early.
2. Improve the onboarding and training process
Hiring good people is just the first step. Many soft skills can be taught and become second nature.
A proper onboarding and training program can help improve agents’ skills and the overall quality of customer service. Employees are well-prepared for difficult calls and customers receive more satisfying support.
Train employees on phone etiquette such as communicating the expected wait time or using positive phrases to assure customers. Technical skills such as how to use call center software, keep information secure, or transfer calls to other departments are also important.
To help call agents prepare for any conversations that may happen, provide guidelines on how to answer typical inquiries and what to say when handling difficult calls. You can also let employees listen in on live calls of expert agents or records of past calls that have positive outcomes.
3. Improve employee engagement
Disengagement and turnover are among the most common problems in call centers. The nature of shift work, the pressure from customer service jobs, and the high needs for these call center positions make retaining good agents difficult.
To make employees feel like a part of the team and engage in the workplace, have an employee engagement program and improve the working conditions. Offer competitive salaries, benefits, and perks. Provide necessary tools and resources for work. Catch up with employees regularly. Organize different activities to engage them.
4. Improve scheduling process
A good scheduling process gives employees enough time to rest and return to the best state to provide customer support. To do that, you need to balance various factors, from employee availability to skills and support demands. Track the call volumes and peak hours so you can schedule agents more effectively.
Software like Camelo can help you simplify and speed up your scheduling process. You can balance many factors and adjust moving parts with a few clicks.
5. Communicate with call agents
Call agents are the frontline workforce that interacts directly with customers. They handle common inquiries and problems on a daily basis. Communicating with them regularly gives you lots of insights into how you can improve products, services, or procedures.
Talking to employees not only helps improve the customer service quality, but also reveals the challenges employees may face so you can support them.
6. Give feedback
Giving feedback should be an ongoing process in the training program. You can use call monitoring tools and listen in on calls to get an idea of how agents perform and what aspects you should provide more training on.
7. Know call center metrics
Specific metrics allow you to make informed and unbiased decisions. Set specific goals and metrics to measure employee performance and keep track of call center operations.
The number of calls and successful calls, average handling time, first call resolution rate, customer satisfaction, etc. are all useful metrics for the decision-making process.
Average handling time (AHT)
Average handling time is the average time an agent spends on resolving issues from callers.
A shorter average handling time isn’t always good. Some cases require more time to calm down the callers or resolve the issues.
AHT = (Total talk time + Total hold time + Total after-call work time) / Total number of calls
First call resolution (FCR) rates
First call resolution rates show how many cases are resolved within the first call.
Gross FCR = (Number of cases resolved on the first call / All incoming calls) x 100
Because not all cases can be fixed at the first call, many call centers use Net FCR to get a more precise metric.
Net FCR = Number of cases resolved on the first call / (All incoming calls – Cases that can’t be resolved at the first call) x 100
Customer satisfaction score (CSat)
Customer satisfaction score shows how satisfied customers are with the support of each agent.
You basically ask each customer to rate their satisfaction with an agent on a scale, commonly a 1-10 scale with 10 as the most satisfied.
CSat score = Total score agent received / Total number of surveys received
8. Delegate tasks effectively
Delegating tasks to the right people can give you more time and focus on important aspects of the call center operations. It empowers your team to grow and contribute, and you don’t have to get bogged down on every tiny detail.
If you delegate, be clear about your expectations towards the results and the steps to reach those results. Set specific processes and deadlines. Clarify when employees need to check in and when to consult with management on a decision. Provide guidelines, tools, and resources necessary for the tasks.
9. Offer incentives
Offering incentives when employees reach a milestone or handle a difficult case encourages them to keep up the good work. They feel acknowledged and appreciated, so they’re more willing to go the extra mile in their work.
10. Review your strategy
11. Resolve admin tasks
If you procrastinate from handling admin tasks, they’ll soon pile up and get out of your control. It’s best to get them done weekly. You can also find digital, automated solutions to resolve them quickly and effectively.
12. Know the laws
Make sure your call center stays compliant with local, state and federal laws. You should also comply with the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNCR), a database that lists the phone numbers of people requesting to not receive telemarketing calls. Consult an attorney if you’re not sure about compliance.
13. Make use of technology
Modern technology is useful for call centers. There are several options you can try:
- Chatbots: offload the workload of staff by providing answers to repeated inquiries
- Call monitoring and recording: listen in on calls to evaluate performance and give feedback
- Skill-based routing: route calls to the right agents based on their skills
- Ring groups: customers call a phone number and the call can reach many agents within one group, any agent available can answer the call
- Interactice voice response (IVR): customers can interact with automated menu options
- Call whisper: managers or other employees can give advice during calls without the customers hearing it
- Call barging: managers can drop in on calls
Review and improve your call center management
To make your call center stand out and enhance customer experience, don’t be afraid to experiment with different management strategies. Over time, you’ll learn what works best for employees, prospects, and customers.