Contact Center ‘Fixes’ Available to All

October 27, 2015

To managers keeping a close eye on the bottom line, the call center can be seen as a mixed blessing. Yes, it’s the first line of contact for customers and can be a real help in boosting your brand. But such help comes at a price, and it’s incumbent on everyone in the company to keep those costs in line. What to do?

Industry consultant David Johnson recently wrote an opinion piece with some suggestions on how to improve operations in a contact center. Johnson looked at the bigger picture and identified some areas of concern.

“While we have reduced the absolute number of agent-handled calls, we have actually increased the average handle time (AHT) due to the complexity of the calls that ultimately end up with agents,” he noted. “That’s because the ‘simple stuff’ is being taken out of the mix of our random call arrival patterns, replaced by calls that either can’t be self-served or are so complicated that the caller prefers to talk with an agent rather than struggle through the required IVR or Web-based workflows.”

So Johnson came up with a number of options for savvy managers to consider, and they’re worth a look:

Targeted Coaching: “Instead of focusing on the bottom 2.5 percent or on pure handle time nagging for the bottom 33 percent, look for specific skills, knowledge, and behaviors that are reducing overall quality and coach to them,” he suggests.

Evaluate the Evaluator: “Do a quick time- and motion-study of your evaluators,” Johnson said. “Let them tell you how they think they spend their time and consider resetting supervisor/evaluator priorities based on what you hear.”

Remove Authentication: The call-part analysis will likely show that the longest segment of the call that can be automated is customer authentication. “Start evaluating voice biometric technology, which can trim every call by 45-60 seconds,” Johnson advises. “If you have 250 agents handling six-minute calls 45-50 times per day, that means about three million calls per year. Take just 45 seconds off those calls and you save more than 37,500 hours every year, increasing capacity by 12 percent without touching the rest of your workflows.”

There are other worthwhile suggestions in his piece, but the biggest takeaway is this: Costs can be shaved, but ironically such savings are achieved by more listening than talking.

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