Call center productivity is always a dicey issue for managers. Because of high rates of attrition in the market, any productivity push from the management is met with resistance from the customer support agents. Does this mean that significant productivity improvements can’t be achieved in customer support? Absolutely no! In fact, there are quite a few basic operational changes that can create a huge impact on the way your customer support agents manage their work, engage with customers, and collaborate with colleagues. Here are top tips and tricks to help you get more done from your customer support teams. Whether you manage your company’s in-house tech support team, or if you’re a BPO service vendor, these tips are relevant for your teams.

Segmentation of Customers Using Smart IVR Routing

Did you know – routing of IVR options can be significantly improved to match customers to the right agents? Segmentation of customers via IVR is an often ignored, but massively important activity for customer care services working on long term contracts. This smarter routing can help improve customer satisfaction manifolds, can cut down on re-routing scenarios, and help you create subject matter expertise on many fronts within your support teams. Also, the job satisfaction of the customer support agent improves in such cases, because of the knowledge that they’ve provided valuable information to the customer.

Showcase ‘Good’ Practices

It’s surprising that most call centre operations don’t have the space for quick sessions where team leads can showcase real scenarios where agents handled situations like bosses! When a team mate closes a difficult call successfully, it’s an opportunity for you to have a quick 10 minute session wherein you could outline what the agent did well with. This creates easy to understand and well contextualized behavioral components that other agents are then quick to latch on to. Of course, this recognition motivates the high performing agent further. Especially when you’ve just started new online business and have a small or scattered customer support team, this mechanism helps you outline best practices, and establish benchmarks.

Provide Real Time Metrics to Agents

Providing real time information to agents can work wonders. There are several stats and metrics that can add value to the understanding and planning capabilities of agents in your customer support teams. Some of these metrics are longest wait time in the queue, average waiting time, average abandonment time, number of waiting calls, and other agents’ status. This information helps agents compare their performance to the expected levels, and to those of their colleagues. This creates a natural urge within team members to do better, plan better, and execute better. Knowledge is power, and by making this knowledge available for the agents, at the click of a button. There are massive productivity boosts to be enjoyed. Leverage best project management and real time analytics tools to implement such knowledge broadcast mechanisms in your customer support teams and improve productivity.

Choose More Sophisticated KPIs

Average handling time used to be the most important KPI for call centers a decade back. Today, however, call center support is a lot more about taking phone calls. Advanced customer support agents are enabling business deals, helping customers troubleshoot product issues, enabling prospects to choose the perfect products, solving social media complaints, and a lot more. This means that the modern customer support teams need modern and business relevant KPIs for better evaluations and benchmarking. Customer satisfaction scores, net promoter score, new business value created, customer life time value – there are a few examples of more relevant and meaningful KPIs for advanced customer support teams. The choice of correct KPIs helps call center managers strike the perfect balance between business outcomes (effectiveness) and costs per interaction (efficiency).

Leverage Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)

A customer support or BPO agent can deliver highly effective support if he/she has access to customer information on the screen. This is where CRM integrations can help achieve automatic computer telephony integration, resulting in on-screen prompts to help with caller authentication, history check, and ticket specific information. Using this information, support agents can deliver more personalized and contextualized support, or route the call to appropriate agents within or across teams. For businesses just starting up, those who’ve gone for CRM implementations, and BPO service vendors, computer telephony integration is a must have for long term benefits.

Consistent Training and Coaching

To built call center productivity and maturity over time, coaching and training are the critical building blocks managers can’t ignore. Once agents become comfortable with the basics, it’s natural that their skills will stagnate unless there are well entrenched mechanisms of training and coaching. Leverage workforce optimization tools that can help create knowledge libraries and create a one stop storehouse of all documented information, coaching and feedback forms, etc. You can find cloud based business applications specifically meant to enable easy and automatic training delivery to agents. Dedicated trainings and coaching programs will incentivize support agents to stick to your business, even when they have similar opportunities of employment from competitors.

Well Thought Out Reward Mechanisms

There’s this great truism that, well, holds true in the context of managing your tech support and customer support teams. You get what you reward! So, create rewards around what the support agents want. Whether you want to meet loftier targets, wish to encourage repetition of positive behaviors, or need to create an ecosystem of collaboration and accountability among team members, you can create reward mechanisms around it, and can make the mechanisms successful by choosing rewards that are important for your agent teams. Look to mix intrinsic and extrinsic techniques of motivation to kindle the fire of motivation among team mates.

Final Thoughts

The era of cloud powered applications has the potential to transform the way customer support, tech support, and BPO teams operate. By adopting these tools, and the best practices outlines in this guide, managers can bring about significant productivity boosts in their customer support teams.