There’s no argument that improving efficiency brings the desired benefits of increased productivity and cost reduction.
The challenge is achieving efficiency improvements without negatively impacting customer experience and satisfaction.
In the contact centre environment, becoming more efficient involves reviewing internal processes, eliminating unnecessary steps and duplicate handling, and often implementing new processes. The main aims are to reduce call handling times and improve first call resolution.
Here’s 15 efficiency improvement ideas worth reviewing. Sometimes even the smallest changes can have a significant impact on efficiency and customer satisfaction.
1. Migrate to a cloud hosted solution
Cloud hosted technology solutions don’t rely on equipment infrastructure, and therefore scale from five agents to one thousand and back again without incurring any downtime. Compared to on-premise solutions, they are much cheaper and more efficient to implement.
2. Improve your self-service options
Customers want choice. They want to be able to take care of routine and straightforward interactions themselves. A well-designed IVR system will enable efficient self-service and free up your customer teams to focus on more complex enquiries. The Premier IVR system is easy to design and update, and offers features such as automated speech recognition, text-to-speech and multiple languages.
3. Implement automatic call distribution
Poor call traffic distribution results in customers being sent to the wrong department, which ties up personnel and delays them in getting on with helping the right people. Not only does it tie up lines, but frustrates the customer. Advanced call queuing and routing intelligently directs calls to the right agent. IVR and ACD solutions work together to provide faster, more efficient service.
4. Use overflow queuing
Manage unexpected call spikes by overflowing calls based on static or dynamic thresholds; calls can be redirected to other queues, recorded messages, voicemail, or external destinations to reduce customer wait times.
5. Integrate your programs
There’s nothing so frustrating and time- wasting for staff as flipping between multiple screens trying to find the right customer and company information. Average handling times (AHT) increase, mistakes happen, customers get annoyed with the waiting.
A one-way integration of your Contact Centre solution with your CRM and ERP gives your team instant access to everything they need, in one window. Even better – a two-way integration enables them to update all your systems in one go, thus reducing double entry and the likelihood of data entry errors.
6. Improve your verification process
The average time to verify the identity of a user using Personal Verifiable Questions (PVQs) is 45-90 seconds. With voice biometrics technology, it takes approximately 5-10 seconds to confirm and delivers dramatically heightened security, with the added benefit of providing minimal disruption to the customer service experience.
7. Offer a call back service
A cost-effective way to improve team efficiency, and the customer experience, is to use call-backs to defer calls until a later time. There are two options for call backs.
- Virtual queuing – whereby the customer’s place in the queue is held and called when her turn arrives
- A timed call-back, where customers are offered a selection of time slots for their call-back. This option allows you to schedule the call back to take place during a “trough” period, and so keeps staff productive during quieter periods.
Call back options can be offered through your IVR for inbound calls, or if you’re using the Premier Contact Point Mobility Solution – the call back options can be presented on the user’s mobile phone.
8. Review all the important metrics
Whilst Average Handling time (AHT) and first call resolution rates are very important metrics, they’re not the only measures of contact centre efficiency. Factors such as customer satisfaction and lifetime value of customers should also be measured as key performance indicators of efficiency. Why? Because the harder your team works to look after your customers and keep them loyal, and provide repeat business, the less your marketing department needs to spend on replacing them with new customers.
9. Use robotic process automation (RPA)
RPA is the elimination of repetitive and time-consuming tasks that often drain agent’s energy and open the potential for human error. RPA frees agents to focus more closely on building and retaining the emotional bonds with customers. Agent training costs are lowered, human error is eliminated, quality and accuracy is improved and customer interaction times are decreased.
10. Give your staff the information they need
Well-informed agents are more likely to resolve queries on first contact. Make sure your knowledge base is constantly kept up to date, is easily accessible from the agent desktop, and is well-structured with navigation and guided help. Also consider using Inter-Agent Chat to allow agents to share common issues and get answers. With inter-agent chat, agents can get instant help from more experienced of agents and supervisors while supporting customers.
11. Reduce staff turnover
Keeping a stable team will reduce training costs and unproductive time, and the key to doing this – beyond hiring the right people in the first place, is build a culture which supports a happy and motivated team.
- Have a comprehensive onboarding process
- Promote a culture of inclusiveness to new recruits
- Encourage honest and open communication and implement feedback systems
- Invest in recognition & reward programs. According to Gallop, 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognised.
12. Provide continuous training
If someone is making the same mistake over and over again, and it’s not picked up until their quarterly review, it may be costing you thousands of dollars. Continuous monitoring, coaching and training helps mitigate this risk.
13. Keep your staff fresh
Ensure there is enough ‘refresh time’ so your team perform at 100% when they’re working. Burnt-out staff lose impetus and care, make more mistakes and work slower.
14. Consider gamification to increase motivation
Contact centre efficiency is intrinsically linked to productivity, and productive agents are people who are engaged and motivated. Gamification of the workplace is becoming increasingly popular as a method of stimulating engagement and involves virtual challenges, contests, and quests for the purpose of racking up points, advancing to higher levels, or earning points.
15. Manage staff rosters effectively
Workforce management means having the right number of properly skilled people and supporting resources in the right place, at the right time, to handle an accurately forecasted workload. Premier Contact Point’s Workforce Management system lets your agents bid for their preferred shift times, or request trades with their colleagues. Agents are more engaged and happy when working the shifts they prefer, and a happy agent is a productive one.
Improving efficiency can provide more than you bargained for
When you improve contact centre efficiency, in addition to achieving increased productivity and cost reduction, you’ll also see happiness levels rise for three groups of people:
- your customers – because their queries are resolved faster
- your staff – because frustrating process issues have been eliminated
- your management team – because your staff can handle greater call volumes which reduces costs.
It’s a triple win!
In fact it’s a quadruple win – if you consider that a 1% boost in first-call resolution rates is reported to equate to customer satisfaction also jumping by 1%. And when that happens, your customers are more likely to remain loyal and keep on purchasing.