8 Tips for Transforming Contact Centre Performance

Author: Simon Black | Date: 22/04/2022

Now more than ever, contact centres have a vital role to play in ensuring business success. Contact centre agents are not only resolving a high volume of queries on a daily basis, but they are also maintaining and enhancing brand reputations by delivering outstanding customer service outcomes.

Crucially, contact centre performance can significantly impact a business’s bottom line. As many as 96% of consumers consider customer service an important factor in their brand loyalty,1 while 52% have made an additional purchase after a positive customer service experience.2

As a result, optimising contact centre performance is becoming a central focus for businesses. Unfortunately, various contact centre problems complicate this and make it difficult to proactively manage and improve performance.

That’s why we’ve used our extensive expertise in the call and contact centre space to outline below some of the steps you can take to bolster performance.

Suggested reading: You can learn more about the principles of effective call management in our recent blog post — 5 Best Strategies for Successful Contact Centre Management — Remotely or Otherwise

1. Identify areas in need of improvement

Before you can implement any improvements in your contact centre, you first need to understand the effectiveness of your current approach. This requires conducting a thorough analysis of performance, which can include everything from staff knowledge to customer satisfaction.

Once the areas in need of improvement have been pinpointed, you can take steps to ensure optimisation. For example, by identifying the points and triggers in customer interactions where agents are struggling, managers can better understand the shortcomings in existing training processes and provide follow-up sessions accordingly.

Whilst traditional quality assurance methods like random call sampling can make this time-consuming and labour intensive, technology changes everything. Speech and voice analytics are making it possible to listen in to all of the voice calls, IVR chats, social media chats, emails and chatbot conversations that agents have.

This and other advancements, such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI), have made it easier for managers and team leaders to better understand their customers and agents. As a result, far less time is wasted trawling through hours of calls searching for insights, freeing up time and resources for the implementation of transformative strategies.

2. Select and track relevant KPIs

Using performance metrics that can help drive change is crucial in order to ensure long-term efficiency and success. That’s why identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) is a vital part of any strategy aimed at improving contact centre performance.

While the appropriate KPIs will vary from case to case, there are several commonly implemented, tried and tested KPIs that have the potential to help drive immediate improvements in both contact centres. These include:

  • Average Handling Time (AHT): This is the average length of an entire customer call, which includes both hold times and transfers.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): An indication of the total percentage of customer satisfaction with a purchase or interaction.
  • First Call Resolution (FCR): The purpose of this metric is to capture how often a contact centre resolves customer queries on a first contact without the need for follow-ups.

By continually measuring performance against these KPIs, contact centre managers can track progress over an extended period. This can help facilitate quicker reactions to dips in performance and a more holistic understanding of overall performance.

3. Provide useful and ongoing training

A contact centre is only as good as its agents, and agents are often only as good as the training provided to them. That’s why staff training, and the supporting resources accessible to agents, play such a key role in overall contact centre performance.

This requires regular reviews of training material and delivery to ensure that both are as relevant and up to date as possible. A great way to do this is to gather input from agents themselves, as this allows managers to better understand what doesn’t work when it comes to training. This makes it easier to identify specific areas where procedures are falling short and tailor future sessions and materials accordingly.

Beyond this, helping agents consolidate and expand their existing knowledge goes a long way to ensuring the continued delivery of outstanding customer service. This can be achieved by regularly offering relevant follow-up training sessions and sharing best practices with team members.

4. Share best practices

Making improvements in your contact centre isn’t always about introducing exciting and innovative new processes or staying up to date with the latest contact centre trends. Sometimes it can be as simple as sharing success and implementing the most current call centre scripting best practices across teams and agents. 

Recognising and sharing success stories from within the contact centre is a great way to optimise agent performance without investing significant resources. In practice, this might involve identifying when a particularly impressive call with a customer occurs, and then using it in future training sessions as an example of what good looks like. 

However, this requires contact centres to utilise software that ensures every call is recorded, stored, and easily accessible for training at a later date. Without software with these capabilities, successful calls may not always be recorded, and even those that are may never be analysed for future use.

5. Take scripting to the next level

In modern-day contact centres, there are numerous tools and resources managers can deploy to boost efficiency, one of which is call scripting. A tried and tested method of ensuring high-quality customer service outcomes, call centre scripts are carefully designed documents that guide agents through customer interactions. 

Historically, these have helped reduce errors and increase the consistency and accuracy of the guidance agents provide to customers. However, due to advances in technology, and an increasing focus on customer service outcomes that drive business success, traditional scripting is being replaced with new, cutting-edge solutions. 

Scripts are now being built using a library of system controls that simplify following processes and finding the correct information. Agents can now use a single interface that provides them with all the information they need for a specific customer at the right time. This helps to ensure they provide customers with all the information they need on first contact.

This innovative software has the potential to benefit contact centres in a number of ways, but primarily this intelligent approach to scripting helps:

  • Increase FCR by helping agents satisfy customer demands on every call.
  • Reduce call handling times by eliminating the delays caused by agents searching for customer details and information. 

6. Prompt your agents with the next best action

Next Best Action (NBA) is a promising trend emerging in modern-day contact centres. This involves the deployment of preconfigured business rules alongside AI and machine learning (ML) to provide agents with suggestions on what actions to take during customer calls in real-time.

NBA is a great way to reduce the volume and intensity of training contact centre agents require. It also helps to ensure that the customer support they provide meets the required standards in terms of both quality and compliance.

There are a variety of other performance-related benefits that contact centre managers can unlock with the help of NBA, including: 

  • Eliminating repeat calls
  • Improving First Call Resolution rates
  • Reducing call handling times
  • Delivering a more personalised experience to customers
  • Higher agent productivity

7. Incentivise your workforce

Having a workforce that performs at their best out of a desire to make someone’s day or drive growth is the ideal scenario for contact centres. Unfortunately, that isn’t always realistic, so managers and team leaders need to find other ways to ensure their workforce remains productive and engaged.

In order to really see an improvement in performance, it’s crucial that agents have the motivation to go above and beyond during their customer interactions. This can be achieved by offering a range of incentives, such as vouchers or days off, or a simple public acknowledgement of a job well done. 

Whatever the method, it’s essential that agents feel appreciated for their work and that their efforts are being noticed. By providing incentives, contact centre managers can increase their agents’ dedication to providing every customer with outstanding service.

8. Consider staff wellbeing

Unless managers consider the health and wellbeing of their staff, efficiency and productivity are likely to drop in the long run. This is especially true in contact centres — if agents are unhappy or unmotivated, it’s far more likely that the service they provide will fail to reach the required standards. It’s also more likely that they’ll consider other options that are open to them, which can, in turn, lead to an increase in staff turnover.

There are a variety of ways contact centre managers can look to foster a positive environment that supports agent wellbeing, including:

  • Offering mental health days 
  • Implementing flexible working schedules 
  • Allowing agents to take breaks as needed 
  • Regular manager-led well-being sessions

Techniques such as this facilitate a positive and relaxed work atmosphere, which can, in turn, improve productivity and service quality. It’s worth noting, however, that both COVID-19 and shifting societal attitudes towards mental health have, to some extent, redefined how businesses need to approach staff wellbeing. 

Technology is now being deployed to assist with employee wellbeing management, in part due to shifts to hybrid and remote working and the increasing focus on mental health issues. Both speech and voice analytics are making it easier for managers to identify shifts in agent sentiment over a period of time. This makes it possible for them to intervene and proactively provide support when agents are struggling.

Put technology at the heart of contact centre performance management

By implementing industry best practices and effective strategies, even underperforming contact centres can begin to see considerable improvements. However, for your contact centre to truly become an asset that drives successful outcomes, your approach needs to be supplemented by technology. 

At Awaken, we’re passionate about software that can help you achieve contact centre excellence by overcoming challenges and driving efficiency. Underpinned by decades of contact centre experience, our platform seamlessly integrates with clients existing systems with minimal disruption to the customer experience.

Our Conversational Analytics product uses speech and voices analytics to capture every call, email and social message, facilitating improved understanding of both customers and agents alongside a range of other benefits, including:

  • A better understanding of both agents and customers
  • Effective management of employee wellbeing
  • Simplified measuring of customer satisfaction

Our Intelligent Agent Software can also deliver significant improvements throughout your operation. With Awaken Scripting, your workforce has the tools they need to deliver exceptional customer journeys on a consistent basis. 

You can now go one step further with the help of our Intelligent Next Best Action solution. This software suggests the next step agents need to take in real-time based on what the customer is saying, driving one contact resolutions and an overall more comprehensive customer experience.

If you want to learn more about Awaken and our commitment to creating a technology-empowered customer experience that optimises contact centre operations, get in touch with our team today.

2017 Global State of Customer Service Report – Microsoft

Customer Service and Business Results: A Survey of Customer Service Mid-Size Companies