When you work in a call center, it’s easy to get bogged down.
Calls are coming in left, right, and center. Your leadership asks you for reports on call types, headcount, and quarterly forecasts. It’s constant firefighting.
The call center grind plummets productivity, drives agent burnout, and ultimately leads to employee turnover.
Fortunately, there is a better way. It takes a little change in process, mindset, and vision. But when you get it right, it’s worth it.
But first, you should diagnose the true causes of low call center productivity. Here are six key areas to examine.
1) Your processes are inefficient
The processes you created years ago aren’t going to work forever. The purpose they were designed to serve has changed over time and will continue to evolve.
Technology has moved on. Customer expectations have grown.
You might even offer different products. Failure to update old processes leads to slower response times and unhappy customers.
Part of both the technological changes and the increase in customer expectations is likely the number and ease of communication channels available at their fingertips.
If you don’t meet customers’ expectations, you’re constantly fighting to live up to demand and pressure.
If you have to update the notes on call logs to state a customer called but also waited on the live chat after sending an email, it’s eating up time you could spend helping customers.
The most important process — the inbound call — is often a major blocker here. When call routing is ineffective, it leads to increased wait times and high customer frustration.
2) Your call routing & distribution is ineffective
When calls get sent to the wrong agent, it leads to an increased workload for the agents who can’t help the caller. Instead, they must spend time doing the call routing manually.
Rather than dealing with customers whom they can help, they do this instead:
Not only does this impact first-call resolution, but it also eats up that agent’s time. Rather than providing value to their own customers, they’re doing activities your phone system should be.
👉 Note: This is called skills-based routing and is available with all great cloud contact center platforms.
If your Interactive Voice Response (IVR — the system that allows customers to choose options for different departments on the dialpad) is causing customer frustration instead of leading them to the right place, your call center productivity is suffering from the moment they dial your number.
3) Your team feels limited by technology
Part of the reason your wait time is high could be the use of outdated software.
If your call center can’t handle the call volume, agents are behind the entire day. Callers get routed to the wrong place, agents can’t see how long customers have been queuing, and they spend time having customers repeat themselves.
Lack of access to customer information can prolong call duration. If a random agent picks up a call and doesn’t have the context of the call already, call times increase, and customers lose their patience.
It’s not just agents and customers here, either.
Insufficient tools for monitoring and improving agent performance means call center managers and supervisors are stuck doing reviews and analyses manually. They spend hours searching for and listening to calls instead of using an automated quality management system.
4) Lack of training & development
The root cause of low call center productivity could be inadequate initial training for new hires. If new call center agents don’t get the appropriate attention and training from day one, you’re setting them up to fail.
It’s tough trying to dedicate time to new hires during onboarding when you hire them because you’re already overwhelmed and underwater. But, in the long run, training the team is worth the initial investment.
Failure to assign this time upfront often leads to limited opportunities for growth and upskilling for agents. This means your entry-level agents often remain at the same professional stage for a long period of time — which is a problem for you and for them.
5) Low employee morale
When employees aren’t progressing, it’s often because of inadequate support from management.
While supervisors are handling escalations and putting out fires, and managers are looking after planning and administration, there’s nobody left to look after training and upskilling.
Lack of upskilling, alongside a lack of recognition and reward for high performance, leads to agents feeling like a small cog in a large wheel rather than an important part of a high-performing company.
If you don’t communicate how they’re doing, how your company is doing, and what you’re all working towards, employee morale will continue to suffer.
6) Excessive employee burnout
What do you get when you cross low employee morale with high call volumes and insufficient rest breaks?
Throw in way too much overtime, too, while you’re at it (because 47.6% of call centers operate mandatory overtime.)
You get fatigued, unhappy employees who can’t see the life element of their work-life balance. They come into work drained and finish the day even more drained. Employee burnout is real, and it’s one of the biggest reasons call center agents leave businesses.
Sure, it may not be every employee, and it may not be every call center. But wouldn’t you rather find that out for yourself?
How To Improve Call Center Productivity
It’s important to understand that call center productivity could be heavily impacted by multiple issues.
Take time to unpack what exactly is going on so you can optimize processes and tech stacks, manage morale and performance expectations, and address burnout head-on.
Optimize your current processes
The very first thing you must do is conduct a thorough review of existing processes and identify bottlenecks.
Finding the root cause is paramount to everything else that follows:
Write a to-be statement: Include productivity metrics such as attendance and punctuality.
One of the biggest wins for call centers is implementing Lean Six Sigma management to cut waste and streamline operations. Lean Six Sigma centers around the 5S method:
The 5 Ss are:
These can apply in a literal sense (i.e., tidy desk = tidy mind). But they can also apply to your call center operations and processes. By cutting waste and keeping what’s optimal, you create an optimized process that’s worth sticking to.
Once you’ve arrived at your optimized process, documentation is key. Establishing playbooks for common scenarios helps reduce decision-making time, speeds up AHT, and increases first contact resolution.
Give employees the technology they need
Your new process is only as good as the technology that can implement it. It might be the case you’re not getting the most out of your existing call center technology.
But it’s often the case that your processes were limited in what was achievable when you first rolled it out.
Call centers can benefit from a huge boost in productivity by investing in updated call center software that offers scalability and integration with other tools, like CRM systems that provide full customer history to agents.
New features that may not have been possible when you put your first solution in place are now changing the way call centers operate.
We’re talking about call center features such as:
All these features are now accessible via the cloud and transform the way a modern call center handles inbound inquiries.
Datamart is here to help you make the right choice for your business. Contact us today or give us a call at 781-235-5520.