Your call center is (like most) focused on delivering great customer service while keeping your costs low.
That’s fair enough: your budget only stretches so far and every cent counts. But while maintaining a tight grip on your finances is sensible, it’s all too easy for the quality of your service to suffer as a result.
A drop in your customer experience (CX) can be dangerous, opening the door to reduced satisfaction, declining sales and less trust. And as consumers are likely to tell as many as 15 people (on average) about poor service, you can’t afford to let your contact center fall into this trap, especially not just to save a few bucks.
If the quality of your customer service is decreasing, it’s time to take a deep breath, review your organization — and take action. Even if that means increasing the amount of money you’re willing to invest.
What factors do you have to focus on to get your center back on track?
#1. Lack of communication
Your employees must know exactly what’s expected of them before they can perform at their best. Defining their responsibilities and goals is crucial.
Management has to establish clear expectations and review individual agents’ performance on a regular basis, as part of an ongoing quality assurance program. One-on-one communication is vital to adapt old goals, set new ones and provide proper feedback that really helps employees make breakthroughs.
It’s only through clear communication that your agents will understand if they’re hitting the right targets: without it, you’re leaving them — the people you and your customers both depend on for great service — in the dark.
Help them find the light.
Leverage real-time messaging and collaborative tools to create a more open workplace: be willing to discuss ideas and customer-service techniques with your agents as they’re working. Communication doesn’t have to involve sitting in a meeting room for formal chats.
Encourage employees to talk with colleagues and work together to hone their performance. Provide them with the technology they need to help each other out and learn from your high achievers without having to leave their desks.
#2. Improper training and hiring
Your contact center is only as good as its workforce — so what does that say about yours?
Think about it. When you have skilled, talented staff interacting with customers, you have the base tools you need to put your action plan to work. When you don’t … well, you’re at a disadvantage.
Define the profile each position demands and figure out where you’ll find the ideal candidates. When hiring individuals, just one interview and a resume isn’t necessarily enough to gain a real insight into the applicant’s skills.
Still, this information provides you with a good idea of how their personality and character aligns with your organization’s culture. This is essential, and should never be overlooked.
Once you’ve carefully cherry-picked each member of your team, take time to prep them for the work ahead. A standardized process must be in place to give them the relevant training — don’t throw them in at the deep end and expect them to learn as they go.
And make sure training and coaching is an ongoing element of your contact center. Use software that lets you deliver real-time training to agents at their desks, minimizing the disruption caused by dragging them into meetings. Targeted training ensures all information and advice delivered is relevant, offering real practical benefits to each employee.
You don’t need to invest in flashy presentation tools or bring expensive experts into the office. Draw on the experience and expertise people across the contact center already possess, from managers to seasoned agents.
#3. Lack of QA control
Let’s say you’ve done everything up to this point right. You’ve made smart hiring choices, you’ve undertaken in-depth training and have strong manager-to-agent communication.
Could you be overlooking quality control? Quality is put aside too often, despite it being one of the most critical aspects of a healthy call center. Review the quality of every agent’s performance, to delve to the root of excellence and correct mistakes as soon as possible.
You should approach quality control as a continuous learning opportunity, serving to enhance customer service on an ongoing basis.
QA software empowers analysts with the filters and tools they need to assess performance in different areas, using data from across multiple channels. Call monitoring is a powerful aid to good quality assurance, letting analysts, managers and agents themselves hear how customers respond in various contexts.
Do they sound frustrated at the start of the call? If so, perhaps they were left on hold for too long. Are agents sympathetic and apologetic enough if there’s been a mistake on your organization’s part? Do your employees sound unmotivated?
Paying attention to all of these areas, and more, will help you achieve a higher level of quality.
#4. Improper feedback
Feedback is fundamental to an effective cycle of reviewing performance and working to improve it.
Without feedback, it’s hard to actually know what your team is doing well and what demands closer attention.
When feedback’s done right, it has the power to motivate staff, boost productivity and achieve a stronger bottom line.
But when addressing weak points in agents’ work, feedback can appear to be little more than finger-pointing. You have to convey your message and ideas as carefully as you can to avoid causing offense: any plans of action you intend to try could backfire if you fail to provide feedback properly.
Good feedback is an art that has to be practiced and crafted. The way in which the message is delivered is key, so focus on positives and growth opportunities able to help employees achieve their potential. Feedback essentially revolves around equipping staff with the tools they need to be confident, disciplined and able to perform to a higher standard.
Embrace tools that allow for real-time feedback as and when needed, rather than making it feel like a formal chore scheduled whether it seems necessary or not.
#5. Negative culture
Look around your contact center. Do your employees seem happy? Do they collaborate and work together well?
Or is there a constant cloud of negative energy in the air?
Every call center is a mini world in itself. Management sets the pace and the rules: a negative culture can lead employees to feel overworked, take more sick days and even fail to meet their goals.
Sound familiar? If so, your culture and processes should be evaluated — as soon as possible.
Because a happy employee is a productive one (20 percent more so than unhappy ones), it’s in everyone’s best interests to build a positive workplace culture. By focusing on an employee-centric culture, you’ll automatically create a customer-centric environment.
Consider integrating flexible schedules, team-building activities, rewards for meeting targets and an ergonomic workplace. All of these can contribute to a happier environment and more productive atmosphere. Good QA software offers a reward system that helps you motivate and inspire agents to aim higher, providing tangible benefits to work towards.
#6. Failing to be transparent
Always avoid secrecy when implementing a quality assurance program in your contact center. Never bring your QA analysts into the workplace without letting all employees know who they are, why they’re there and how their efforts will benefit everyone.
You have to keep your agents onside if you want them to develop. Listening to their calls, studying their ability to hit targets and subjecting them to shadowy, overly-critical feedback sessions will only alienate them.
Inform everyone of your intentions as early as possible before the quality assurance process starts, and welcome their input.
How do they feel about being evaluated?
Which areas of service do they believe could use some improvement?
What changes would they like to see to their working routines, their schedules and the tools at their disposal?
Provide information on how their interactions will be reviewed and scored, how you plan to help them grow and anything else that seems important. You can do this through email or at a company meeting. Reliable QA software is transparent and entitles agents to stay up to date with the quality assurance program, to understand how their performance is being tracked.
#7. Failure to calibrate quality assurance
Before the quality assurance process begins, you have to hold a calibration session to ensure everyone’s on the same page.
Your QA analysts and managers must understand what they’re looking for when evaluating performance. Otherwise, time and money could be wasted while your hard-working specialists are all measuring customer interactions differently.
Calibration meetings should include your QA analysts, members of management and seasoned agents to gain diverse insights into what’s considered important. Review interactions and grade them before comparing ratings: this lets your group discuss their views on those factors constituting good and bad service.
Once calibration has been done, the quality assurance program can get underway. But make sure to keep hosting these meetings on a regular basis, to stay on the right track and monitor overall progress.
Quality is of the utmost importance to maintain outstanding customer service and cultivate long-term client relationships. Certain factors can harm your contact center’s performance, though, depriving your audience of the service they expect — and, in turn, robbing you of valuable customers.
Quality assurance is the key to better work, but you have to approach it in the right way to minimize risk of time-wasting mistakes and oversights.
Follow the tips explored above to improve the quality of your contact center and deliver the kind of customer service you can be truly proud of.
If you’ve found this challenging but overcame obstacles in your contact center regardless, share your story below!