In fast-paced environments, it’s challenging to find time to step back and evaluate the efficiency of operations. For call centers, continual improvement is what sets your businesses apart from the crowd. For many customers, the interactions they have with businesses over the phone influence their future relationship with the brand.
Before jumping into the ways you can measure the efficiency of your call center, let's review what it means to have an efficient call center and the steps you can take to achieve efficiency.
What Is Call Center Efficiency?
Operational efficiency is the ability of an organization to cut back on wasted time, effort, and resources, while still maintaining a high level of service. It is a careful balance between operating costs and profit. The more efficient an operation is, the more profitable it is. Improving the efficiency of business is top of mind for leadership with 77% of CEOs reporting operational efficiency as their main focus. The interest from leadership means that call center managers should always be on the lookout for ways to reduce wasted resources and improve customer satisfaction.
Small improvements and process changes could result in big payoffs. Consider how many agents interact with customers at your call center. If every agent shaves off 5 minutes of wasted time, how many hours would that save your business?
Call Center Efficiency Tips
One of the first steps in improving efficiency is to take a step back and look at your process. This will help you understand where resources are being used, which areas have the biggest impact on results, and what workflows should be revised.
Know the Goal
An important question to ask is what defines quality. Does customer satisfaction indicate a job well done? Has leadership set goals or benchmarks for your call center? Is customer service the ultimate goal or are specific sales initiatives more important? Once you’ve identified the core purpose of your call center, you can then choose the improvements and metrics that will have the biggest impact on the end goal.
Empower Your Agents
One area for optimization with the biggest impact is your agent workflows. Without proper training, your agents could be wasting time between calls with unnecessary tasks. They also might be presenting information to clients in a way that is unclear or that takes longer. Frequent training helps agents stay up to date with the latest information and work in the most efficient manner possible. This training should help agents know the tasks they are responsible for and what tools are available to help them complete those tasks.
A second way to support agents is to have a good script. The correct messaging allows for calls to be handled faster and ensures that information is clearly communicated. If dealing with more complex topics, a centralized knowledge base can be a great resource for agents to make sure the information they’re sharing is accurate and up-to-date every time.
Consider Omnichannel Support
In an omnichannel contact center, pressure is taken off the agents to be the first interaction a customer has. Frequently, a chatbot will deal with any routine information before transferring the customer to a live agent. This saves time and is more convenient for customers as they are able to start receiving support immediately.
In addition, your customer base will appreciate that they can get the information they need on their favorite channels. With omnichannel support, customer interactions can be recorded and integrated across multiple channels. This prevents siloed data and allows agents to see any previous interactions a customer may have initiated with the company.
Call Center Efficiency Metrics
Tracking the right metrics will help you identify areas to optimize your call center efficiency as well as show you how your efforts are paying off. Deciding which call center metrics you should be tracking can be difficult to narrow down, but the metrics outlined below are great ones to start with.
First Call Resolution (FCR)
FCR measures if the customer’s problem has been successfully resolved within the initial interaction. This metric can have a huge impact on efficiency, as having to call customers back wastes a lot of time. Tracking FCR can let you know if there are knowledge gaps in training. If an agent needs to transfer calls or call customers back too frequently, they likely need a refresher on that topic.
A critical indicator of efficiency is response time. In an inbound call center, this is typically measured as the average amount of time it takes to answer a customer’s call. If customers are on hold for too long, their satisfaction will drop along with their loyalty to the company. In fact, it’s been found that keeping customers on hold for long periods of time could cost businesses $130 billion annually.
In an outbound call center, contact rate is measured by dividing the number of unique users that answered the phone by the number of users the contact center called. Contact rate will tell you how many customers you are actually able to reach. If agents are spending too much time dialing numbers that don’t pick up, it may be good to switch up the time of day you call customers or invest in Branded Calls to improve contact rate.
This metric measures agent productivity by tracking the time they take between calls. This metric should be carefully balanced. On one hand, agents shouldn’t waste time with customers. On the other hand, there is often important after-call work that needs to be done. Tracking this metric will help you find that balance and eliminate any wasted time between calls.
Improving your call center efficiency is a great way to help your business reach its goals. Interested in what other metrics are helpful to track depending on the purpose of your call center? Download our Call Center Metrics eBook for a more in-depth look.