Without a properly functioning call center, your business is missing out on a huge chance to engage with customers. Call centers allow businesses to answer questions, communicate important information, and build strong relationships with customers. And strong relationships are more important than ever with 82% of consumers saying they would stop doing business with a company if they received poor customer service.
Every part of your call center can be optimized to provide the best experience for your customers and agents. We’ve listed a few call center best practices that you should consider.
Get Your Operations Running Smoothly
The first step to success is a strong foundation. Build your call center operations to serve your needs and grow with you. With contact center automation growing in their capabilities, creating a scalable call center is more convenient than ever. When you have a good process and environment created, many of the other tips will naturally fall into place.
- Have a Centralized Knowledge Base
While you can train agents on many topics, it’s unrealistic for them to be experts on everything. Without access to customer data, scripts, documentation, and more, your agents won’t know what they need to say to each person they call. A centralized knowledge base serves as a library of all the information your agents could possibly need when interacting with customers. Having a knowledge base ensures that the information your agents provide is consistent and up to the same quality every time. It also improves the efficiency of your operations, as solutions are documented and easily repeatable. Agents are able to answer questions and solve problems themselves without needing to transfer the call to someone with more knowledge.
The key to a successful knowledge base is to make sure the library is up to date. There’s nothing worse than an agent sharing old information or not being able to solve a problem because of outdated documentation. In addition, titles and descriptions should be easily searchable so that information is accessible to agents as they’re having a discussion with a customer.
- Create a Productive Environment
One call center best practice is to create a productive environment. Are the office chairs comfortable to sit in, can you open the windows to let natural light in, is sound absorbed effectively in the office? Physical environments have a huge impact on the focus and productivity of agents.
If your agents work remotely, this still applies. Are they getting notifications that distract them from the conversation? Do they have a good monitor to help them manage any dashboards or knowledge bases? Are they able to work from a desk and not the living room couch? Encourage your employees to create a work environment that allows them to be the most on-task and productive.
- Support Omnichannel Interactions
As customers are expecting seamless interactions across all devices and channels, omnichannel contact centers are becoming an important part of call center operations. If implemented correctly, an omnichannel contact center will cultivate a loyal customer base. By delivering personalized and consistent information to customers on their favorite channels, you’ll be positioned to have positive customer interactions every time.
Make Customer Service a Focus
As one of the most human touchpoints customers have with your business, customer service should be a huge focus for call centers. Obsessing over the experience your customers have with your call center makes your business stand out from the competition.
- Use Customer Surveys
What's the best way to know how your customers feel about the level of service they’ve received? Ask them! Offer surveys at the end of calls or in a follow-up email to gain insights into the customer experience. Once you’ve collected this information, make sure to incorporate the feedback into performance improvements. This feedback serves as a valuable window into the opportunities your call center has to improve.
- Make Speed and Consistency a Priority
There is nothing more frustrating for customers than when they aren’t able to get the information they need in a timely manner. Make sure you have processes in place that will help your agents know what information they need to share with customers or where they can find the answers to problems. If possible, automate repetitive tasks to streamline your agents’ workflows and give them time to focus on customer service.
- Use Positive Language
Call center agents infamously have to deal with upset customers in highly charged situations. To resolve issues in a productive manner, it’s crucial that the tone of the conversation remains polite and positive. This is where scripts can come in handy to help agents know the best way to respond in specific situations.
For some call centers, it is common to be delivering bad news to customers. Healthcare companies often deliver worrisome test results and financial services notify of fraud. In these instances, it’s important to follow up the bad news with how your company can help them solve the issue. This will let the customer know that your company is there to help them and not just a bearer of bad news.
Empower Your Agents
One of the best ways to increase productivity and innovation is to give agents ownership over their roles and the tools they need to be successful. The following call center best practices ensure that your agents are ready to represent your company in the best possible light.
- Train Your Agents Effectively
Without guidance, it’s very unlikely that your agents will be prepared to handle the many different call types they will encounter in a day. Make sure your agents are armed with the tools and processes they need to be successful. Also, be sure to train agents frequently. There is always room for improvement in various areas and cross-training different skills will ensure your staff is well rounded and ready for any situation. Training sessions are a great place to incorporate any customer feedback you may have collected.
As a part of quality training, make sure your agents know that your door is always open for questions and suggestions. When agents are able to influence the processes that affect them, they are more motivated to perform well.
- Reward Agents
Often, rewards for positive work are more effective than criticism for poor performance. Make the terms of any incentives clear to provide agents with a straightforward goal they can strive for. Financial rewards are often extremely motivating, but not all rewards need to be related to compensation. Personal recognition, team events, and free lunch are all good incentives to keep agents motivated and engaged.
It is also beneficial to share career progression paths within the company or call center. Agents who feel that their career is limited are not as motivated to perform well as agents who are able to see clear goals and progression paths for themselves.
- Optimize Your Scheduling
When there aren’t enough trained agents to inform customers of crucial information or to answer customer questions in a timely manner, agents face burnout. In many call centers, there are certain hours of the day that see higher call volumes. An effective call center scheduling strategy would ensure that there are additional agents available at those times of the day. This allows agents to take a break when needed so that they can return to work ready for whatever comes next.
These call center best practices will set your business on the path to success. But how will you know the impact these strategies have on your call center? The answer lies in tracking the right metrics for your goals.
With Hiya Connect’s analytics dashboards, you can easily track and visualize the KPIs that matter most to your success. Want to learn more about which metrics will have the biggest impact on your call center performance? Download our Call Center Metrics eBook to learn more.