Improve Call Center Agent Productivity and Customer
By Francis Carden
Increasing contact center
efficiency has always been a clear path to cutting costs during any economy.
While increasing productivity and doing more with existing resources is more
important than ever, cutting call center costs does not have to result in a
decrease in customer service.
Unfortunately, many contact
center professionals in the trenches believe that delivering a truly superior
customer experience comes with too high a price tag, particularly against the
backdrop of a global recession. Efficiency and its associated cost savings are
perfectly compatible with high satisfaction levels; it's inefficiency that
causes much of the dissatisfaction in the first place. Here are five tips for
raising contact center productivity and improving the customer experience.
Tip 1: Do away with copy and
paste: Agents are
often forced to copy and paste data across applications, putting companies at
risk for mistakes that cost time, money, serious compliance penalties, and cause
repetitive strain injuries to agents. Automation technologies exist that can
streamline a number of manual workflows. Examples include automating repetitive
application login processes, automatically synchronizing data across systems
whenever a record is changed, and automatically opening and navigating a
knowledge management system for certain call types.
Tip 2: Present personalized
up-sell and cross-sell offers:
Despite initial enthusiasm
for up-selling and cross-selling, these are falling out of favor with contact
centers because attempts have been frustrating to both agents and callers. This
is a huge missed opportunity. Most callers appreciate it when an agent knows
enough about them to offer them something they truly need or can save them time
By automating the offer
look-up process and presenting the offer to the agent in real-time at the proper
stage of the call flow can dramatically improve up-sell performance.
When the potential of this
is grasped, simple yet creative solutions can emerge. For example, a client's
website may already present customized up-sell or cross-sell offers in a pop-up
window. By extending this approach to the call center, agents can suggest
up-sell and cross-sell offers without having to research what is appropriate for
the caller based on their status and buying history. In addition, real-time
feedback on the success or failure of an offer is now available.
Tip 3: Create a unified view
of client and caller data:
Contact center agents often
need to interact with different applications in order to properly service
callers. Considering that each application has its own unique user interface
and navigational logic and that many were not designed for contact centers, it's
no wonder that agent productivity and caller satisfaction suffer in this
In the past, integrating
these applications has been complicated, time-consuming, and expensive - which
is why in many cases it simply hasn't happened. The technology used to build
these applications varies dramatically (such as Java, .NET, C, C++, C#,
PowerBuilder, and COBOL) and the applications themselves often reside in
different places (installed on a desktop, delivered via the Web or mainframe, or
streamed via Citrix or another hosted system).
tools are now available that allow IT professionals to quickly build a single
contact center agent "dashboard" that unites all these applications into a
single screen and shares the data across them so information only needs to be
entered once and all other systems are updated. This speeds access to important
customer data, shortens call handling and wait times, streamlines agent training
processes, and ultimately improves caller satisfaction.
This can be especially
valuable for outsourced contact centers that service a number of clients.
Instead of training agents on a client's processes across a myriad of
applications, a unified user interface can dramatically improve productivity,
especially if there is a need to shift an agent from one client to another.
Tip 4: Automate compliance
Complying with client and government mandates introduces a number of challenges
for agents and call centers alike. Compliance mandates such as accurately
capturing and logging call activity, reading mandatory disclosure statements,
and performing necessary credit or other types of verification checks add
complexity to a given caller interaction. This often requires an agent to
remember and correctly follow defined business rules that may vary from one
client to another. From an organizational perspective, it is often difficult to
track the activity of every agent to know that compliance requirements are being
compliance-related agent workflows, call centers can streamline agent
productivity, improve adherence to important compliance processes, and improve
the ability to track and report on compliance performance. For example,
consider automating the presentation of government-mandated disclosure
statements. Whereas an agent previously needed to remember that a statement was
required based upon a particular address location and then needed to look up the
location-specific statement, now, based upon the caller's address, automation
does the necessary look-up and presents the agent with the specific disclosure
statement at the proper stage of the call flow. Another automation requires
that the agent confirm completion of the compliance process before the call can
be closed. This way, call centers can ensure compliance and have the proper
records to back it up.
Tip 5: Auto-navigate
Inbound support calls result in a significant amount of wasted time and effort.
Although computer telephone integration (CTI) or softphone applications pop up
with basic caller or telephone information, the agent may need to launch
additional applications and navigate to specific pages within them. Integrating
CTI, or softphone applications, with the core agent applications and automating
the navigation to the correct customer record within an application improves
agent productivity and drives caller satisfaction gains.
Following these tips can
help improve call center efficiency while contributing to overall caller loyalty
and client satisfaction.
Francis Carden is the
founder and chief evangelist of OpenSpan, a provider of business user
productivity software. OpenSpan enables enterprises to integrate applications,
service-enable legacy systems, automate business processes, extend
functionality, and build new composite applications.
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