5 Call Centre Problems and How To Overcome Them

Author: Wil Sokanovic | Date: 11/02/2022

An estimated $75 billion is lost every year due to poor customer service.1 As many as 58% of consumers rate customer service as a critical factor in their purchasing decisions and brand loyalty.2 Delivering exceptional customer service has never been more important, so solving call centre problems should be a central business priority in 2022 and beyond. 

Building a flawless call or contact centre requires you to consider how to manage fluctuations in support queries, deliver high-quality advice, train and engage staff, and more. Today, we’re going to examine some of the most common problems call and contact centres face, and how you can overcome them in order to provide the world-class experience your customers deserve.

Let’s dive into the first problem and look at some of the strategies you can deploy to overcome it.

Suggested reading: If you want to learn more about driving call and contact centre efficiency, check out our recent blog post — We Don’t Need a Revolution, or a Pandemic to Drive Call Centre Efficiency

#1 A lack of skills and expertise

Central to call and contact centre success is a team of agents equipped with the skills and expertise required to deliver excellent customer service outcomes. If your call centre is lacking in this department, whether that’s due to insufficient training or poor recruitment, the customer experience you deliver will suffer as a result.

Alongside the ability to master the tools and systems their job requires, exceptional call centre agents need a variety of skills, such as:

  • Great communication
  • Knowledge retention
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Problem-solving

Strategies to help

There are several ways businesses can fill a skills gap within call centres, including:

  • Implementing a robust recruitment process that helps you acquire the best talent.
  • Tracking performance in order to identify poor performers and provide additional support. 
  • Constructive feedback helps agents understand where they are going wrong and how to improve.
  • Effective training, such as shadowing programs, that allow agents to share knowledge.
  • Using technology to make recordings of high-performing agents that others can learn from.

Technology can and should be central to your strategy here. Dynamic call scripting tools are able to guide agents through the process of customer call resolution. The right technology allows agents to focus on one topic at a time and instantly become experts on every customer they deal with. This improves the skills of the people you have and makes it easier to onboard new agents at speed, all while retaining consistent outcomes. 

#2 Low employee engagement

Recent shifts to hybrid and remote working have made monitoring and maintaining employee engagement more important than ever. Failing to provide call centre staff with the guidance, skills, and training they need to do their job will likely reduce the quality of service they provide, leading to agents becoming frustrated and disengaged.

The role of call centre agents is also evolving. Just answering the phone is no longer enough — customers want to use additional channels, like email, webchat and social media. These channels often require separate tools, making it difficult for agents to bring together the information they need to deal with each query. This means that without proper support, agents are more likely to struggle to fulfil their daily duties, and as a result, become unmotivated and unengaged.

Strategies to help

Various strategies can be implemented to help prevent low levels of employee engagement in call centres, including: 

  • Ensuring agents have the tools and training they need to meet the demands of their role. 
  • Offering incentives to all members of staff, such as rewards, bonuses and additional annual leave. 
  • Recognition and appreciation, a cost-effective method that can help maintain job satisfaction amongst staff, particularly during challenging or busy periods.

Alongside these tried and tested approaches, call and contact centres can take things to the next level with the help of technology. Insights platforms that connect people with data can now be deployed alongside voice analytics. This allows managers to review performance, identify when specific follow up training sessions are required, and identify when agents are becoming disengaged over a period of time, allowing them to intervene early whenever necessary.

#3 Absenteeism and high turnover

Absenteeism rates in call centres are surprisingly high, with employees taking an average of 8.2 sick days per year compared to 7.4 days for other industries.3 These levels of absenteeism can be attributed  to several factors, including:

  • A lack of skills
  • A lack of support
  • Low levels of engagement
  • Few opportunities for career development and progression

High levels of absenteeism are one thing, but failure to turn this around can result in further challenges, including increased agent turnover. The turnover of agents is likely to arise due to the same factors that drive absenteeism, and can also be accelerated by:

  • Increased stress
  • Growing call volumes
  • A poor work-life balance

As well as making it difficult to provide satisfactory customer support, the frequent turnover of agents will see costs increase due to recruitment processes and training requirements.

Strategies to help

Ensuring that agents are engaged, motivated and have the tools and skills they need to carry out their day to day tasks is central to keeping absenteeism and turnover low in any working environment, including call and contact centres. It’s also crucial that staff feel there are opportunities for them to progress professionally, which can be achieved by providing additional training, implementing personal development plans and encouraging internal promotions.

There is also a role for technology to play in decreasing absenteeism and call centre staff turnover. With voice and speech analytics, the meaning, sentiment, and emotion of agents’ conversations with customers can be identified, making it possible to effectively monitor an agent’s state of mind. This allows managers to intervene when necessary, ensuring that agents have the guidance, support and motivation they need to prevent absenteeism and turnover from becoming a major issue. 

#4 Ensuring agent wellbeing

A recent survey reported that 77% of call centre workers were dealing with high or very high levels of personal stress.4 This is not entirely surprising, given that agents on the front line of customer service come under significant pressure, often dealing with high volumes of calls on a daily basis. However, beyond ensuring well-being in order to retain employees and keep operations running smoothly, businesses also have a duty of care. 

The ability of managers to proactively monitor and maintain the well-being of their staff has been complicated somewhat by the hybrid working patterns adopted by many businesses as a result of lockdown restrictions in recent times. Whilst having undoubted benefits, home working has made it more difficult to identify when the wellbeing of individual agents is under threat and when steps should be taken to rectify this.

Strategies to help

In an office setting, traditional approaches to monitoring agents, like having regular meetings and offering them face-to-face support and guidance, are still relevant today. However, the moves towards hybrid working outlined above mean that a new approach is required to ensure that agents’ wellbeing remains a priority for businesses.

Fortunately, new and innovative technology can supplement these traditional approaches and help address staff wellbeing in call and contact centres even within the context of remote working. By analysing all of an agents’ interactions with customers, well-being can be proactively managed with the help of behavioural analytics. This makes it possible to take action early to ensure agent welfare is dealt with and considered in line with best practices, and that the business delivers on its duty of care. 

#5 Low first call resolution rate

First Call Resolution (FCR), sometimes referred to as First Contact Resolution or ‘one-touch resolution’, is a metric used to measure a call centre’s ability to resolve a customer’s query during their first contact with them. 

Unfortunately, the growing complexity of customer queries often makes it difficult for agents to offer an immediate solution. A number of additional factors can also contribute to low FCR, including a lack of technical skills and low levels of staff engagement.

Put simply, even if a business has the most efficient processes and the best equipment, if they fail to focus on FCR, unnecessary costs will accumulate due to repeat calls. Long-term, if First Call Resolution rates remain low, customer satisfaction is also likely to decrease.

Strategies to help

Recruiting, training, and retaining skilled and talented agents is crucial for keeping FCR rates at a satisfactory level. However, in order to optimise their FCR, businesses need to place an increased focus on:

  1. Identifying repeat calls
  2. Understand the root cause of these calls
  3. Identifying and implementing process improvements

Deploying a combination of speech and voice analytics can provide the solution. With the help of this software, it’s now possible to conduct structured searches of the conversations each agent has with every customer, perform root cause analysis based on those conversations, and use this to pinpoint areas that need addressing. This can help improve a call centres FCR rate and contribute to an overall increase in customer satisfaction.

Drive efficiency and improvements with Awaken

Call and contact centres face a variety of problems in their quest to deliver exceptional customer service in real-time. As we have seen above, technology has a pivotal role to play alongside traditional solutions to ensure call and contact centres can overcome these challenges and meet the demands of an increasingly complex and competitive customer service space. 

That’s why at Awaken, we’ve pioneered innovative and flexible software that solves problems and drives efficiency. Our platform allows you to analyse every customer-agent interaction, giving you the ability to:

  • Listen with the help of voice and speech analytics, language transcription and translation.
  • Understand by combining people and data to produce actionable insights.
  • Guide your agents with call scripting and intelligent guidance that improves customer service.

Our cost-effective software is not only informed by our team’s decades of call and contact centre experience, it can also integrate seamlessly with your legacy systems to avoid unnecessary disruption to your agent or customer experience.

If you want to learn more about how Awaken can support your call or contact centre and help deliver an exceptional journey for your customers, get in touch today.

Businesses Lose $75 Billion Due To Poor Customer Service
State of global customer service report
Absenteeism and Its Impact on the Call Center
Making call centre jobs better: The relationship between management practices and worker stress