With a new breed of consumer making new demands on business, contact centres are having to radically change their approach to operations
Interactive Intelligence recently discussed Top Ten Contact Centre Strategies with a European audience via a series of webinars, based on extensive experience in global contact centre technologies and strategies. The top strategies of successful contact centres rest on two key themes – the right staffing approach and the right tools. With these in place, operations are streamlined and customer service is dramatically improved.
The top ten strategic moves to improve contact centre performance are:
1. Audit Your System
The top factor in improving contact centre operations is to start with an audit of the existing system and processes. Contact centre management should assess whether the contact centre meets the current and future needs of the business, whether systems and processes are fast enough, whether unfixed errors are costing in terms of time, efficiency or morale. They need to determine whether the systems are optimising the benefits of innovation such as cloud, speech analytics and interactive recording. A full audit will highlight systems shortfalls that could be addressed to deliver immediate improvements in operations.
2. Full Review of Recruitment Practices
With staff key to contact centre success, it is important that the right staff are appointed at the outset, that their induction and training is carried out effectively, and that career and personal growth is supported. Contact centre management needs to ensure that it is fully involved in the recruitment process, asking the right customer service questions at interviews, and ensuring a comprehensive and appropriate induction programme. Management should also participate in staying and exit interviews and apply insights from these in improving staff relations.
3. Measurement Tools
The customer’s experience is the contact centre’s most important measure of success, so counting call volumes and simple yes/no customer surveys are no longer enough to gain a full understanding of the customer experience. The successful contact centre assesses whether its traditional KPIs and other measurements are still appropriate to meet the objectives set. To enhance quality measurement, the contact centre needs to define its objectives, and ensure that the staff fully understand what is being measured and why. This can be achieved by employing advanced tools supporting quality measurement, such as Interaction Intelligence’ Supervisor, Real-time andhistorical end to end Reporting, Workforce Optimization, Recorder, Optimizer, Quality Management, Feedback, Strategic Planning and Real-time Speech Analytics.
4. Maximise Customer Feedback
Ensuring customer satisfaction means fully understanding how, when and why customers interact with the contact centre, and what their experience is when they do. Consider whether your customer survey questions need to be reviewed to more accurately reflect customer views as opposed to addressing cosmetic issues. Assess whether other departments need to be involved in the survey to ensure their needs are covered too; or whether another department carry out surveys without your input. Most importantly, do you act on survey results?
5. Maximising Staff Feedback
System and process shortcomings are most apparent to those ‘at the coalface’. Improving contact centre operations depends to a large degree on getting feedback from the contact centre team, and acting on it. To do so, hold regular review/focus groups with staff and colleagues, where participants are encouraged to share their views, make suggestions, and collaborate in carrying out improvements.
Contact centre performance depends on more than Number of Calls Answered and Resolved. Today, the question is not how many calls were answered, but how well the contact centre supports the business’ goals. Today’s successful contact centre needs to benchmark itself against those of other organisations, especially those in different market sectors; it needs to maximise performance through good communication with other departments in the organisation, especially marketing and sales. In addition, the right performance tools need to be in place.
7. Bang The Drum Internally
Traditionally, sales teams in major enterprises win the accolades, because their achievements are easily measurable. Too often, the critical role of the contact centre in growing and retaining the customer base is overlooked. To improve contact centre staff job satisfaction, and ensure access to adequate resources, it’s important to ‘bang the drum’ internally, ensuring that the enterprise is made aware of the contact centre’s contribution to business, as well as its achievements.Consider: Do other departments and management really know what you do and how important it is? Are company career paths designed to ensure exposure to the contact centre? Do you use industry awards programmes to promote yourselves?
8. Self/Staff Development
The staff are the heart of the contact centre. Career and personal development are crucial to job satisfaction and reduced staff turnover, as well as boosting customer service. To ensure that the contact centre performs optimally, staff training and personal development need to be addressed on an ongoing basis.
9. Do ALL Channels Well
The contact centre is not just about voice interaction anymore. You may have excellent voice interaction, but unless you deliver the same level of service via other channels, your contact centre is dropping the ball. The consumer of today expects uniform service levels across multiple channels. Contact centres need to know which channels are preferred by which customers, and must have the ability to respond using the customer’s preferred channel. Ensure that phone, web chat, email, text, social media, mobile and letter interactions are equally efficient and integrated. Breaking down siloes and using true all-in-one platforms will support a multi-channel strategy, enhancing the customer experience and simplifying contact centre management and CRM.
Your contact centre staff are the face of your business. Working by the book is not enough to ensure customer satisfaction – your staff need to be motivated to deliver good service. They need job satisfaction and a positive attitude, which will reflect in their interactions with customers. Assess whether you and your staff look forward to coming to work and ask ‘why/why not?’ Consider whether you have any silly rules to “control” staff that should be dropped. Ask – does performance vary due to mood over the day/week/month – and if so, do you know why? And are any of the “fun” things you do becoming stale?