3 call center best practices to help you drive consistent performance
Call center best practices are the glue that makes achieving organizational goals every year feel more tangible. Yes, key performance indicators are useful and help ensure daily operational benchmarks are achieved, but without a set of strong best practices, your operation is likely to start splitting at the seams.
Call center best practices and you
There is undoubtedly a long list of call center best practices out there. Some speak to the kinds of key performance indicators you should use, others relate to hygiene factors that steer organization success.
When it comes to best practices, we like to think of them as a guiding methodology that drives operational consistency. While the following are not the be all and end all of best practices, we think them to be a solid foundation for the development and implementation of many more. Here are three best practices to consider as you strive for call center excellence:
1. Be scientific: Use data to back decisions
Making informed decisions about how to run your call center and team more efficiently is no touchy feely concept. Data backed decisions are more reliable and, most importantly, easier to track performance against.
But picking the right kind of data to track can be a little challenging, especially if you’re not sure that your team’s KPIs are the right fit. If this sounds like you, and you hear alarm bells ringing, that’s your trigger to take action. Thankfully, data (again) is the answer to your problem. While picking the right kind of KPIs for your call center is very much unique to your business’s objectives, understanding how to use the data you already have makes all the difference. Data tells a story. Your goal is to look at your data and figure out the story that it’s telling you about your operation.
Here are two tips to consider as you begin to explore the story of your data:
- Create a list of all metrics that you measure and collect all historical data. You want to prepare the data to show trends, so create graphs that can tell a story about what your team’s output looks like over time.
TIP: Try and use data from the same time frame for all metrics that you’re tracking. You want to be able to account for all factors that could have or may have impacted your team’s performance. For example, if your organization ran a marketing campaign that increased the amount of inbound calls over a quarter, you may be interested in knowing what your team’s average quality assurance score was, and possibly what the average customer satisfaction rating was for the same period.
- Correlate your team’s performance with events that took place within the industry and your company to make sure that all factors are considered. This is especially important if you are making hiring decisions. As mentioned above, a quarter long marketing campaign can increase call volume. An increase in call volume that is taken out of context can result in inaccurate decisions on how many new call center agents to onboard, leading to an over staffed call center and unnecessary terminations later.
As you begin to learn more about how your call center is performing, be sure to ask more questions of your data. One question could be, “are there any trends related to the amount of outbound calls we are making and product defects?”
2. Always reward: Implement a call center incentive program
Call center incentive programs rolled out and managed efficiently have the power to help you breed the right culture and behaviours among your agents. According to ICMI, Inc, top call centers focus on rewarding top achievers for individual performance, and teams for group performance.
If you are rolling out you first incentive program, or looking to launch a more effective program, here are three tips on how to align call center incentive ideas as closely as possible to performance:
- Incentives should always be tied to a performance enhancement or the attainment of a new standard that you business wants to achieve. As you set new standard, be sure that they are achievable and have a positive and clear impact on your business.
- Make sure that your new standard can be maintained. While there are many possible factors that could influence output of your team, it’s important to know what level of output is achievable and can be maintained over time. Data you’ve collected and correlated can help you find the right balance.
- Make sure all agents understand the ins and out of the new incentive program. Leaving any room for ambiguity or misinterpretation can turn your new program into a white elephant and leave a bad taste in the mouths of your agents.
PRO TIP: Work with your marketing team to develop a complete internal marketing campaign to roll-out to your agents. Email is a great way to communicate and reinforce the rules about how the metric system works, the value of the rewards and more. Going beyond email and creating printed collateral, like posters, makes the program and rewards more real for agents.
3. Engage: Use regular formal and informal interaction to engage agents
Research shows that less than one third of U.S employees feel that they are engaged. That means that upwards of 60% of the U.S workforce feels indifferent about their jobs, but it doesn’t just end there. The effect of their indifference actually results in disinterest in organizational performance, a crippling reality for many businesses. More research shows that managers can account for up to a 70% variance in the engagement scores submitted by employees. This proves that managers that connect with staff regularly can develop a more inclusive and goal-oriented culture one employee at a time. So be sure to implement this as one of your call center best practices.
Establishing the right form of employee engagement can seem tricky, however, a simple way to start implementing effective employee engagement is to make yours a combination of formal and informal interactions. For example, formal interactions can be one-on-one sessions every second week. In these, performance is reviewed and you’ll get a chance to gauge where your agents head is and how you can help with any performance challenges. Informal sessions can happen once a week. It can be a walk over to the agent’s desk to ask if help is needed with a query that is challenging, or a followup conversation about an email you had sent, where you confirm that there was clear understanding, and remind the agent that your door is always open.
Finding the right mix of best practices to serve your organization can be a little tricky, however when you think of them as a methodology that serves your strategic objectives, call center best practices that really matter are the ones that stick.
If you’re looking for a way to drive staff engagement and performance, take a look at our Rewards and Recognition Program Value Proposition. It covers how TuYu can help you drive the right behaviours through effective, efficient and easy-to-manage mobile staff rewards.