6 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience in a Call Center

Woman sits at desk with earpiece on smiling and talking into phone

Call centers have a direct impact on how customers perceive your business. A customer’s experience in the call center is often the most important factor that determines whether they will be repeat customers. That’s why it’s so important to focus on how you can improve customer experience in your call center.

In this article, we’ll look at several key call center customer experience best practices.

Customer Service Verticals in Call Centres

Call Centers are often more accurately called “Contact Centers” to cover a wider range of customer interactions (for example live chat). These verticals are complex but all have the same goal –providing outstanding customer experience in the most cost-effective manner. Keeping in mind that customer interactions extend beyond the phone, let’s uncover some actionable strategies you can implement to provide a better customer experience (CX) journey.

How to Improve Customer Experience in Call Centers

Here are a few things your business can do when improving call center customer experience.

1. Set Achievable KPIs

KPIs – key performance indicators are used to provide the various stakeholders insight into how well this is being accomplished. The focus needs to be on selecting the right KPIs for the right audiences.

Being able to correctly interpret the KPIs to determine what is meaningful and what is not for your specific operation is just as important. Having the correct tools/systems to be able to measure the KPIs you want to use is another critical need.

2. Customize Goals to Your Business

Customizing KPIs and goals to meet specific business needs is important. For example, an industry-standard might say that 80% of inbound calls to a call center should be answered in 30 seconds or less. But what if your customer service team wants to operate even more quickly than that? Maybe you want customer calls to be answered even sooner because your business competes by supplying superior customer support service. In these types of cases, it is very important to customize the KPIs to meet your specific expectations.

Pulling all this together and developing an ongoing approach that is not static and continues to do timely audits and improvements is where this all needs to be.

3. Build Gaming Environments to Reduce Turnover

There is a third goal within the concept of being cost-effective, and that is keeping your agents happy and engaged. Your call center agents are a significant part of your service to your customers and a customer’s experience is critically affected by agent performance.

Ironically, agent engagement usually only comes up in KPIs like agent turnover rate which is a rather reactive way to monitor this metric. A betterapproach to this puzzle is to create agent environments where the agents are essentially gaming with one another (or just themselves) and are actively being provided feedback on their performance in real-time.

Examples of incorporating gaming include:

  • Tracking which agent is resolving the customer’s needs on the initial call (a KPI called FCR or first call resolution) 
  • Tracking which agents are most accurately handling the call aspects like asking the customer at the end if they need anything else

There are many other implementations of this type of strategy, and some are legal necessities – such asasking the customer for enough information to ensure that they are in fact the right party to interact with on the call – a KPI called “right party contact” or RPC.

Creating this gaming environment can encourage camraderie between your call center agents, but it can also create extra tension and overall cost if poorly implemented.

Regardless, it is necessary to consider agent satisfaction as something that’s vitallyimportant to customer satisfaction and cost-effectiveness.  It is easier to maintain a team than to find yourself constantly having to replace team membersbecause you have created or unknowingly enforced a toxic work environment.

4. Tracking Call Center KPIs

With the goals in mind and a good understanding of the specific needs of your business, you can determine the KPIs you need to be monitored.  The next steps are to determine the KPIs you’ve picked, how to collect the information, how timely each KPI needs to be, and finally how the information you are getting is to be shared. Proper contact center platforms should inherently be collecting the data that is relevant for your KPIs.

You will still need to interpret the data and organize it to ensure that you are looking at the data the right way. For example, average call abandonment rates (how often customers hang up before an agent gets to them or the line is disconnected) is a useful metric, but it is key to pick the right time increment that is used to measure this KPI.

If you measure it over a full day (24 hours) you will get an inflated result, versus measuring this metric over the busy periods of the business day, where this KPI is likely to be at its worst level and therefore more useful to know.

5. Dive Into Your Analytics

You are now hopefully using existing systems that can collect the metrics that are behind the KPIs you need. At Vaspian, we use our own call center products to generate real-time dashboards that are accessible to both the agents and the managers. Everyone can see who is in the queue to answer customer queries and how well they are performing on a wide variety of KPIs.

In addition to real-time analysis, we collect historical data to determine trends for each KPI and drive a staffing model that is based on knowing what the agents can handle, and what they are getting in terms of work to be done in peak periods of activity.

The final step for us was to develop a speech analytics application that was able to both generate reports and real-time alerts on how calls were being handled and the customer reactions in these calls. The speech analytics was essential for understanding how well the agents were performing to the requirements of their calls (like the right party contact identification and asking if the customer was satisfied at the end).

Even emotions can be measured using the capabilities of our speech analytics platform which was eye-opening to say the least! For example, you can see over the course of an agent/customer conversation how the customer’s mood might change from frustrated at the beginning to satisfied at the end – an excellent outcome.

Or when a customer stays frustrated and could need intervention by a manager. This kind of monitoring takes everything to the next level.

In the past such a tool was rather expensive and not applicable to many contact center agents, but today the improvements in technology have both brought the prices down and the performance /accuracy up where even the smallest center can have these capabilities.

Such monitoring takes our understanding of our business to another level, too. We discovered how many of our agents can employ emotional intelligence to better manage customer issues in a way that was simply better than the initial scripting we had developed. Our agents found their own voices in this environment which made their efforts more effective and their work experience more pleasant as well.

We have since doubled down on this idea, something we would have had a very hard time learning without the detail that speech analytics has provided us. These monitoring capabilities have been great for us and many of our customers also use our solutions for their centers as well.

6. Humanize Your Efforts

The amazing thing about KPIs today is that almost anything you can imagine can be measured and reported back to you in a real-time experience. It really does boil down to understanding which values matter to you and then putting the capabilities in place. You then run with them and gradually tune your approach and applications to get to your goals.

This is an important point to remember, monitoring KPIs and Speech Analytics are the types of systems that need to be first put in place and then refined over a period of time to work out the details and ensure that you are getting the insights you want at the level of accuracy that you need.  We need to approach this space with some humility and realize until we research this data we have been working anecdotally and without any real accuracy.

A funny example to learn from was when we encountered a conversation with an agent where the agent appeared to be echoing the negative emotional measurements that we were picking up via the speech analytics. When we actually listened to the call recording we realized that the agent was actually showing empathy with the customer by repeating their initial sentiments and the call went really well!

This made us rethink what the most valuable KPIs were for us. We realized the emotional values our call center agents were bringing had a powerful effect on our customers (it also helped to see that the same agents were getting month after month compliments from our customers.

Get Started With Vaspian Today

Monitoring Call Centers effectively is much more than a simple metric collection process. It involves a significant qualitative analysis efforts as well. But when done properly, you will come out of it knowing a lot more about your business, your call center agents, and most importantly your customers.

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