Tips to enhance the performance of your support agents: II

1. Review your live chat agents’ performance:

Make it a point to review your live chat agents. Their training should include mock chats, secret evaluation and much more. Apart from that, distribute customer success manuals amongst your agents where all important tips and techniques of online customer support have been mentioned in written format. This will help them to go through the important tips whenever they have any doubts.

Customer support training
Customer support training

2. Inculcate tech support along with live chat:

In order to create a power-packed support environment make use of live chat features such as canned messages and links, the ability to push files and screen sharing and co-browsing. Also, train your agents to go slow and ask short, simple questions to get to the root of problems and to make solving them easier and faster. More important than training your agents to provide tech support is ensuring they have the resources they need readily available. Ensure your tech support agents are provided with canned links for knowledge based articles, how-to tutorials, videos and other resources they need to help customers resolve issues or problems instantly. Make sure the agents know how to find the resources quickly and then send them to the respective customers whenever they need them.

 

Tech Support
Tech Support

3. Help them to be platform experts:

LIve chat agents need to have thorough knowledge of the platform they are working on and the tools they are dealing in. When chat agents are familiar with the tools they are utilizing while assisting customers, they perform tasks with a higher level of confidence. Task your agents providing both a customer and organization friendly experience when chatting. It’s important to be fully trained on all customer and agent facing platform features. For this purpose,  customers might be presented with a pre-chat survey while initiating a chat request, which gives the ability to choose the reason for wanting to communicate.

 

Platform skills
Platform skills

Here’s why you should opt for omnichannel customer service

Omnichannel customer service

An omnichannel customer service is the best way to provide the customers with a seamless shopping experience, no matter wherever he/she is shopping from. This type of customer support includes channels such as FAQ web pages, mobile applications, social media and more. The basic idea is to let the customers avail assistance through their preferred channel of communication. Omnichannel customer service not only enhances the quality of customer support and provide you happy and loyal customers. There’s a lot more, that it can do for your business. Read on to know:

Continue reading “Here’s why you should opt for omnichannel customer service”

Let your customer support agents know they’re really appreciated

Customer support employee

“Salary” is enough for a person to work at a company. But no one would want to work at a company where their efforts go unnoticed, and they could be replaced in an instant. What makes them stick around and stay loyal to a company is the work environment provided to them.

They would love to work at a place where they do not feel dejected and demotivated. Especially when it comes to customer support agents, employee appreciation is something that keeps the agents going despite a variety of customers they have to face every day. Let’s have a look at the best strategies for making your customer support agents feel valued:

Continue reading “Let your customer support agents know they’re really appreciated”

Top 4 tips to improve call center occupancy effectively

We made you familiar with the concept of occupancy in our previous post. Now, let’s have a look at the most effective tips for improving call center occupancy:

1. Agent utilization during the quiet periods:     

There might be days when the traffic at a call center is not much. These days are referred to as the quiet periods. Productivity and occupancy levels can be increased by asking agents to take on different tasks during these quiet periods. As an example, call centers that normally handle only incoming calls ask agents to make outbound calls during quiet periods or ontact customers to ask if they were satisfied with the service they received. These periods are even utilized to call customers who have recently purchased a product to offer them information on other products of interest. This ultimately improves the call center ocupancy.

2. Self service facilities:

You can consider offering customer self-service facilities through website, e-mail or voice mail. These facilities help reduce staffing levels and call volumes  Providing customers with self-service options for services such as requesting service calls, placing and tracking order etc. ultimately reduces the call volumes and helps in optimizing the call center occupancy.

3. Call monitoring:

Call monitoring is yet another powerful strategy for improving call center occupancy. You can consider monitoring the call volumes at different times of the day and on different days in order to identify busy periods and quiet periods. Thereafter, you can schedule staff levels to reduce the time customers have to wait in a queue during busy periods.

4. Call center outsourcing:

You can provide additional resources for peak periods by outsourcing a part of your call center operations. Moreover, you can consider switching resources between the main call center and the outsourced call center instead of asking permanent staff to attend more calls during peak hours. Apart from improving the occupancy rate of each staff, it also ensures that their efficiency is not getting affected during peak hours.

Best strategies to curb agent attrition: V

1. Consider agent priorities:

According to a research, agents who have worked in the contact center for more than six months have these top three priorities namely:

i) salary

ii) progression

iii) nice environment

On the other hand, the top three priorities for those who have been in the role for less than six months are as follows:

i) nice environment

ii) salary

iii) company culture

Therefore, incentive planning needs to be done on the basis of these priorities in order to lower agent attrition levels in customer support centers. This further helps you can gain the most out of the rewards that are offered. Apart from this, customer support managers also need to focus on the salaries of jobs which require similar skills to the agent role. Also, they need to make sure that the rates of pay that you offer are competitive.

Priorities
Priorities

2. Consider benchmarking against good agent skills:

The act of benchmarking the skills of new agents against their well-skilled counterparts will help benefit the quality of calls and provide the required guidance. In order to reduce agent attrition, benchmark advisors against their colleagues instead of alongside metric based targets. Further, suggest them what to pick up from them in call quality monitoring sessions.

Benchmarking skills
Benchmarking skills

3. Monitor customer-centric metrics:

As a matter of fact, the most effective call center agents are typically the ones that make a personalized connection with their callers and derive the most satisfaction from their job. Therefore, it is necessary to monitor customer-centric metrics such as contact quality, customer satisfaction, and first contact resolution. Thereafter, measures need to be taken to enhance them. Also, the contact center managers need to ensure that quantitative metrics such as average handle time or calls per hour are not overvalued. This will help increase customer satisfaction and curb agent attrition.

Customer centric metrics
Customer centric metrics

Best strategies to curb agent attrition: IV

1. Improve the working conditions:

Agent satisfaction is the key to reducing agent attrition. This can be achieved by allowing agents the opportunity to work from home, on a flexible schedule, or in an office with an ergonomic workspace. This will make them more satisfied with their work and achieve a healthy work-life balance. Simply put, if you want that each agent loves coming to work, you need to provide them with satisfactory working conditions.

Good work condition at office
Good work condition at office

2. Choose the new agents wisely:

As a matter of fact, if someone left their last role as a contact centre advisor after six to nine months, there is a possibility that they will leave again. This happens because agents who leave after this time often do so as they realise that there was not much room for job progression in their previous role. Hiring process needs to be more specific so as to find the most appropriate agents. So, in order to reduce agent attrition, you need to consider this factor to ensure that they are aware of possible growth within the contact center.

Hiring the right candidate
Hiring the right candidate

3. Try to find the right balance:

Agents who are good at taking calls may not necessarily be good at managing people. However, keeping them in the same position for too long may frustrate them due to the lack of progression and move on. Therefore, it is necessary to find the right balance to curb agent attrition. For this, consider developing leadership in the contact centre to find agents who have the right leadership capabilities, such as organisation, influence, and motivation.  Also, ensure you don’t make the decision based on call handling alone. Moreover, if you are seen to be helping the agents progress their skills by developing their leadership, you can lower attrition. This is because they will interpret your actions as preparing them for future opportunities and their betterment.

Promotion
Promotion

 

Best strategies to curb agent attrition: III

1. Provide rewards and internal promotions:

Implementing peer recognition and rewards program is yet another powerful method of curbing agent attrition. It involves ensuring that each agent receives feedback that is directly tied to their performance and that they receive rewards when they meet key milestones. This enhances an agent’s motivation and helps build engagement with their work. On the other hand, filling open positions within call centers by promoting internal candidates can also help motivate them to work better. This can actually be used as an incentive for agents to work harder at their job and be sure to promote top performers.

Rewards and recognition
Rewards and recognition

2. Strive to tackle your advisors’ grievances:

Exit interviews are the ones conducted to gather information on why an advisor is leaving and to learn how a customer support center can stop attrition. Instead of these exit interviews, conducting internal interviews, after an employee’s first few weeks of joining, can help tackle their grievances and know their pain points before it is too late. Thereafter, strategies can be employed to exempt these grievances. These interviews convince the employees that the company cares and supports for each of them. It further boosts their morale and job satisfaction and leads to a lowered agent attrition rate.

Coaching culture
Coaching culture

3. Ease down the shift swapping process:

The rigidness of the schedule in a customer support center can result in staff missing important external events and lower job satisfaction. As a matter of fact, customer support centers are hesitant to allow shift swaps due to the negative impact it may have on workplace cohesion, contact between supervisors and advisors and service quality. However, working towards lowering the rigidness of the schedule and providing an easy swapping of shifts can greatly enhance employee morale. This can eventually result in a reduced agent attrition.

Shift swapping
Shift swapping

 

 

 

 

 

Best strategies to curb agent attrition: II

1.Provide adequate training to all the agents:

Skipping or shortening the training period, based on the fact that some agents need intense training while others do not can lead to the omission of useful experiences. This may further result in feelings of exclusion, inadequacy, and disorganization and in the worst cases, the agent leaving your company. Therefore, you should consider training each agent equally. Make sure that all the agents are subjected to the same training period so they can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, become acculturated to the company’s values, and cultivate relationships with colleagues. This training period will enhance team collaboration and bond and will further lead to the exemption of agent attrition to a large extent.

Call center training programmes
Call center training programs

2. Schedule the staff appropriately:

One of the most effective strategies in curbing agent attrition is focusing on the work-life balance of employees. This strategy works on the principle of mutual understanding, such that, employees need to understand that the business must meet its customers’ demands, while the business must understand that employees have external pressures as well. Thus, you need to develop a flexible approach creating a number of lifestyle schedule options that give employees more choices, whilst still meeting the business needs. Providing options is a great way of finding a suitable solution and satisfying all.

Work life balance
Work life balance

3. Leverage the power of skill development:

Providing skill development programs is yet another powerful strategy that can help curb agent attrition in customer support centers. As a matter of fact, agents who feel their on the job skill-set is not at all progressive are more likely to disengage with their work and are more prone to leaving. However, all these insecurities can be eliminated and job satisfaction can be increased with opportunities for agents to learn new skills and new technologies. This will help them be more competent and confident, perform their work-related duties and stay longer with your company.

Skill development programmes
Skill development programmes

Best strategies to curb agent attrition: I

An attrition refers to a common problem when call center employees feel stressed, unrecognized or underpaid. It can further be defined as the rate at which members of staff voluntarily leave the workforce over a given period of time. A thorough understanding of all of the reasons employees resign from call center positions can help determine which factors contribute to the call center’s attrition rate. Thereafter employing effective strategies can help combat this situation:

1. Optimized recruitment:

Hiring the right agents for your team is the very first step in curbing agent attrition. Implementing a referral program as well as allowing agents to work from home can help increase the quality of applicants. Consider personality, communication skills, cultural fit, team-oriented attitudes and the skills of the applicant, while hiring. A clear description of job roles, common tasks and performance expectations will help them know what is expected of them and can opt out of the job if it is not a suitable one.

Hiring the right agents
Hiring the right agents

2. Work towards the empowerment of your team:

Agents should have clearly defined expectations, receive feedback based on these expectations and should know who to talk to when they have an issue or concern. Moreover, they should be involved in business decisions, informed about company goals and strategies and be polled about their experience working in the company. Establishing clear communication channels and including agents in decision-making processes will make them feel more empowered and motivated. This will further reduce the problem of agent attrition.

Empowering agents
Empowering agents

3. Provide your agents with progressive software and applications:

Providing your agents with progressive call center software that is easy to learn and use, can help them start working sooner and be better at what they do. Providing them with adequate software and applications increases the agents’ satisfaction with their work and reduce agent attrition.

Tools and software
Tools and software

 

Benefits of ANI in customer support centers

As mentioned earlier, ANI is a feature of a telecommunications network for determining the origination telephone number on toll calls for billing purposes. This amazing feature provides a number of benefits to the customer support centers employing it. We have mentioned some of those benefits below:

1. Call forwarding without operator intervention:

An operator call forwarding will become aware of the caller’s phone number and automatically thank them for forwarding their lines as well as give them the option to go to an operator and arrive in check-in mode ready to get their messages. This will reduce the live operator time and subsequently the billable time.

Call forwarding
Call forwarding

 

2. Call blocking:

Your answering service can block all the unwanted, irritating calls with the help of automatic number identification.

Call blocking
Call blocking

3. Exemption of call screening bills:

Call screening is the process of evaluating the characteristics of a telephone call before deciding how or whether to answer it. The screening process can be excluded from your answering service bill by employing an ANI system. This highly effective technology can help identify their caller ID and dump these calls before an operator ever has to speak with them.

Call screening
Call screening

4. An increase in agent efficiency:

ANI ensures that the most appropriate number is always displayed. With automatic caller ID, the agents will never have to manually select a number. This exempts all the chances of errors. Moreover, it saves them time and effort, thus, increasing their efficiency.

Increased agent efficiency
Increased agent efficiency

5. Boosts call backs and connection rates: 

 ANI helps in increasing call backs and connection rates as using a familiar number will increase the probability that the recipient will return the call. Moreover, recipients are more likely to answer calls from familiar phone numbers or phone numbers from similar area codes.
Call back
Call back

6. Increases first call resolution on callbacks:

Using ANI recipients can be immediately connected with the most appropriate agent when they have missed a call and thereafter call back.

Increased first call resolution
Increased first call resolution

 

 

Tips to reduce FCD in a call center: II

1.Optimize call queue settings:

It is a known fact that customers hate waiting when they want to get their queries resolved. The best solution to this problem is modern contact center software. It offers various features to optimize call queues, reduce the wait time and thus exempt FCD. Some of its features are:

i) Queue to voicemail:

Using this feature, customers can leave a voicemail instead of waiting in the queue. This helps in reducing FCD to a large extent as it exempts the need of waiting a single minute in the queue. This further helps improve the quality of customer service and agents’ efficiency as well.

ii) Queue callback:

This feature allows the customers to exit the queue and leave behind their details such as contact information so that they can be contacted back. Whenever the agents are available, they refer to the details provided and call back the customers so as to provide them the required information or solve their queries.

Voicemail
Voicemail

2. Optimize your staffing:

This does not mean hiring a lot of agents but planning the entire process adequately. Optimizing your staffing in order to reduce FCD calls for adjusting your team size based on predicted call volume, especially during the peak time. Workforce management and efficient call center software can be used to do this. Moreover, the historical data can be analyzed to better understand the peak times, and staff accordingly. You also need to consider making contingency plans for those times when employees call in sick.

Optimized staffing 2
Optimized staffing 2

3. Offer self- help service:

In today’s era, customers prefer to get help themselves. A self-service feature on your website or social media profile will help to cut down FCD. By reducing the call flow to your contact center, it will further increase the productivity and efficiency of the agents.

Self service
Self-service

 

 

Tips to reduce FCD in a call center: I

As we mentioned in our earlier post, FCD refers to a scenario where a caller hangs up the call after listening to the notice that ‘our customer care agents are currently busy, your call is important to us, please hold the line’. Fast clear down is a result of the fact that such customers are not ready to wait even a minute or two. This makes it a little harder to tackle FCD in an effective way but by making use of the following tips, it can be curbed to a large extent:

FCD
FCD

1. Consider employing advanced call center software:

All your call center needs can be met using the different types of advanced call center software available in the market. They help achieve productivity and benefit you in the long run. Using highly efficacious software, your agents will be able to provide exceptional customer service and resolve the customer’s issue in a very short time. This is because advanced software enables the agents to have all the information at their fingertips. So, the moment they start their interaction with the customer, they can refer to the available information and provide the fastest query resolution. Moreover, the software will help to optimize the after-call work of an agent hence, further increasing customer satisfaction and reducing FCD.

Call center software
Call center software

2. Train your agents adequately:

When the agents are not adequately trained, they are not completely familiar with a process and this impacts the call. In such cases, the agents are not able to troubleshoot properly. Also, they may have to get help from the seniors on the call which would prolong the overall call time. As a result, the customers may get frustrated with the inefficiency of the agent and ask for the supervisor. In order to avoid all this, and reduce FCD, you need to train your agents thoroughly.

Training call center agents
Training call center agents

 

 

All you need to know about FCD and its impact on call centers

A fast clear down is a call center term for a caller who hangs up upon hearing a delay notice. FCD is basically used for callers who hang up immediately after they come to know about the delay in reaching a customer care agent. This is a scenario where a caller hangs up the call after listening to the notice that ‘our customer care agents are currently busy, your call is important for us, please hold the line’. Fast clear down is a result of the fact that such customers are not ready to wait even a minute or two.

Fast clear down
Fast clear down

In such cases where a caller hangs up before the agents get a chance to talk, the call centers are likely missing the opportunity of making them satisfied and happy. For an exceptional experience, a customer should be able to reach an agent and get his/ her queries resolved without any delay. But this is not possible when the call volumes are high and customers have to wait in queues. There can also be many other reasons responsible for a lengthy or even short call center queues. Some of them, are:

i) Sub-optimal staffing: If there are not enough agents, it could lead to the calls getting piled upii

ii) Agent incompetence: It means, the agents may not be competent enough to finish the calls on time.

Unhappy customers
Unhappy customers

FCD has an adverse impact as it is directly related to call abandonment rates. Since customers call into a contact center to get immediate support and answers to their queries, so, they are less likely to be in a mood of wasting their time waiting in the queue. Also, due to a negative experience, they hang up and never call back. Hence, abandonment rates are related to customer churn.

Call abandonment
Call abandonment

 

 

A complete guide to call center analytics: II

1. IVR analytics

IVR analytics is a highly effective end-to-end call assessment solution that is a part of customer experience strategy. As a matter of fact, the customers who are greeted by linear thinking IVR systems instead of human voices already assume that their self-service experience is going to be less than favorable. Conducting IVR data analysis helps produce valuable insights that answer many important questions. With insights to these questions, organizations can improve their IVR systems, make them more clear, efficient and user-friendly in responding to callers. Thus, IVR analytics contributes to the success and profitability of companies of all sizes by helping to reduce costs, increase and enhance self-service options, improve first contact resolution, and boost customer satisfaction by providing an exceptional customer experience.

IVR analytics
IVR analytics

2. Predictive analytics:

Predictive analytics consists of a number of statistical techniques from predictive modeling, machine learning, and data mining that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events. Using in-depth review of past performance in call volume, service level, handle time, and customer satisfaction, the predictive analysis makes it possible to apply past solutions to upcoming problems. This information can also be used in training to boost call agent effectiveness and enhance the customer experience. Predictive analytics help organizations determine which operational changes would be the most effective at improving the call center’s overall performance. As an added bonus, it also reduces handle time and operational costs by providing more effective communication.

Predictive analytics
Predictive analytics

3. Call center desktop analytics: 

Call center desktop analytics enables companies to capture inefficiencies, improve security, and explore potential coaching opportunities for phone agents. By viewing the phone agent’s activity during the call and capturing all activity on the agent’s desktop, a company can ensure that the agent is using their systems most effectively, and that the systems themselves are functioning properly. Using comprehensive desktop analytics, an analyst can find and remove redundant tasks that increase call handle time and frustrate both agents and customers alike. This would further help in providing exceptional customer service.

Desktop analytics
Desktop analytics

What is meant by skills-based routing?

Skills-based routing refers to a call-assignment strategy used in call centers to assign incoming calls to the most suitable agent, instead of simply choosing the next available agent. It can be considered as an advancement to the ACD systems found in most call centers. Call centers these days have become larger and have to deal with a wider variety of call types. Skills-based routing comes as a perfect solution to this problem. A successful skills-based routing strategy enables you to increase agent productivity by allowing agents to draw on their personal knowledge and experience base to answer questions faster. this further reduces call-handling time, increases the likelihood of first-call resolution and increases customer confidence and satisfaction.

Skill based routing
Skill based routing

 

A simple automatic call distributor (ACD) system might do nothing more than route calls to the next available agent irrespective of that agent’s expertise and skills. On the other hand, skills-based routing allows contact centers to designate agents as specialists in certain products or issues. Basically, skills-based routing is used to assess the skills needed for a particular call by the dialed telephone number and the calling number or caller’s identity, as well as choices made in any associated IVR system. Thereafter, this highly efficacious system attempts to match the call to a suitably trained agent. The basic idea behind the functioning of skills-based routing is that an agent with matching skills will be able to provide a better service and enhance the customer experience.

Enhanced customer service
Enhanced customer service

According to manufacturers skills- based routing provides the following benefits:

i) it improves customer service

ii) shortens call-handling time

iii) makes training shorter and easier

iv) increases agent utilization,

v) boosts productivity

vi) increases revenue growth

 

Thus, skills-based routing has become a major selling point, over the simpler ACD that it replaces efficaciously!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to reduce call center shrinkage: II

1. Forecast down to appropriate intervals:

A particular number of agents is needed at different times of day to handle typical call volumes. This number is termed as “Base staff” and varies by time of day or day of the week. It is said to be a good practice to forecast down to about 15- or 30-minute intervals and to take into account variations in both volume and average handling time. This would help reduce call center shrinkage to a large extent.

Base staff
Base staff

2. Employ WFM application:

A WFM application with schedule adherence allows you to measure call center shrinkage at a granular employee level. It has the ability to track the exact time spent in planned and unplanned shrinkage. It can help manage shrinkage in a suitable manner in the season based environment. Moreover, it enables you to calculate the impact of absenteeism, late individuals etc on the service that you deliver to your customers.

WFM
WFM

 

3. Avoid flat lining or rounding off the shrinkage:

You should avoid flat lining the call center shrinkage across the year. Instead, consider analyzing the trends related to shrinkage. The reason being, categories such as sickness, training etc cannot always be the same every week or month of the year. Also, you need to make sure that you use decimal points and do not round off the figures in the respective calculations. This is because even 0.1% has the potential of adding up to a cost over the course of a year.

Shrinkage calculation
Shrinkage calculation

 

4. Consider individual calculations for different departments:

In a multi-department call center, shrinkage should be calculated individually rather than for the centre as a whole. This leads a better and more efficacious calculation.

Individual calculations of different departments
Individual calculations of different departments

5. Determine strategies that would reduce shrinkage for your business:

Based on the trends related to call center shrinkage and further calculations, base staff can be determined so as to facilitate a productive work schedule. Consider analyzing the data gleaned from monitoring the factors affecting shrinkage and discussing it with the entire team. Thereafter, you can determine and employ strategies that would work best to reduce shrinkage in your business

Strategies
Strategies

 

 

Importance of callback messaging for call centers

Callback messaging is a service that allows callers to leave personal contact information, either spoken or through the number pad so that an agent can call them back and they retain their place in the queue. This is very useful when call volume is high. This amazing feature offers the caller an alternative to either holding on the line or losing their place in the queue.

Call back
Call back

1.Shortens the call length:

Keeping your customers on hold for long intervals can cause frustration. They tend to loose patience with time and finally when the call is connected they often waste time complaining. Instead of starting off with the query that they called for, they angrily talk about their bad experience hence, increasing the length of the call. Callback messaging can help you start every conversation off smoothly, resulting in lower handle times.

Reducing call duration
Reducing call duration

2. Exempts call abandonment:

With high call volumes, call centers are left with the only option of telling their customers that  “your call matters to us, please be patient” so many times. As a result, they hang up the phone and abandon the call. With the help of a callback messaging solution, customers have an option of receiving a call whenever an agent is available. This reduces call abandonment to a large extent.

Call abandonment
Call abandonment

3. Deflates telecom costs:

As a matter of fact, a PSTN line is occupied the whole time when a caller is kept on hold. Often, a toll-free DID at a premium per-minute rate. Callback messaging facility eliminates the telecom costs associated with hold time as no PSTN line is occupied.

Cost reduction
diagram of slope on white background

4. Enhances customer experience:

When customers are kept on hold, they tend to get irritated and abandon the calls. Since their calls go unattended in these cases, so, this leads to bad experience. Replacing hold time with a callback enhances the experience you provide to customers, hence, exceeding their expectations.

Enhanced customer experience
Enhanced customer experience

5. Increases productivity:

Callback messaging helps make more efficient use of agents by smoothing out the peak periods. this aids in improving call center productivity and reducing the need to hire additional resources. It further lowers the number of repeat callers, hence, reducing spikes efficaciously.

Increases productivity
Increases productivity