For many customers, the only direct contact they’ll ever have with your business is when they talk to a call center agent. These are the professionals on the front line and the impression they give will influence how consumers see your organization.
Consequently, when call center agent performance suffers, so does the overall business. Whether that means losing customers or receiving negative reviews, it’s completely avoidable if you take measures to support and empower your agents.
So, a successful business will always be looking to improve call center agent performance - but how? It can be incredibly difficult to run a high-performance call center, but it all starts with how your agents feel. If they aren’t motivated or engaged, their performance will ultimately suffer.
1. Build strong relationships with agents
One of the most simple, yet effective, ways to improve call center agent performance is ensuring your employees feel happy, heard and respected. Senior leaders should make efforts to maintain an open dialogue with contact center agents to show appreciation and highlight their value towards overall business objectives.
Empowering employees is one aspect of creating and upholding a high-performance culture within an organization, so leaders should be looking to implement practices that foster engagement among employees. Ultimately, when your agents are highly motivated, they’ll perform better.
2. Provide ongoing training
Every business offers training for new call center agents to help them settle into the role. However, few go as far as maintaining a consistent training program. It doesn’t have to stop at onboarding and, for the most successful organizations, it doesn’t.
Without learning and development opportunities, your agents may start to feel like they don't have a future at your company in terms of progression. By providing ongoing training, your employees will broaden their skill sets and customers will feel the impact too. Therefore, employee retention rates will improve and the number of positive customer experiences will increase.
3. Ask for agent feedback
While a well-structured, ongoing training program is fundamental to high performance, many businesses tend to forget just how important a two-way feedback system can be. Encourage your call center agents to share their thoughts about what could be made better, including the technology they have at their disposal, workflows and processes that they use.
When employees feel they can approach you with concerns, there are two real benefits. Firstly, you’re facilitating an environment where staff feel trusted and motivated. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, any issues they raise are likely to contribute towards organizational goals, as they’ve got the first-hand experience senior leaders might not be able to account for alone.
4. Establish best practice guidelines for common issues
It might sound elementary, but one of the easiest ways to improve call center agent performance is by raising their confidence. Identify areas of your service or product that often come up on calls, then create a set of best practices and solutions for agents to follow. In doing so, you’ll significantly speed up the process and employees will be calm and comfortable knowing they have a guide to fall back on.
5. Specialized call routing software
There’s no need to put unnecessary pressure and stress on employees. When a call center agent receives a call on a topic they can’t address alone, it can lead to frustration and lower customer satisfaction levels. Conversely, highly specialized agents shouldn’t have to waste their time on tasks that don’t require their level of expertise.
Many businesses have acquired intelligent call routing software that directs customers to the most appropriate agent, based on their specific issue. Not only does this reduce churn, but your employees will have a much better experience when they are handling customer queries suited to their proficiencies.
6. Use live call recordings
Most businesses already have a system to record live calls and there’s a great reason for it. You might wonder why a call center agent would feel happy about having every word they say recorded, however it really does help them perform better.
With call recording, your agents are protected in any dispute and in terms of learning and development, listening back to interactions is vital for employees to know exactly how to handle specific situations. Additionally, senior leaders can inspect calls to understand where and how their staff might be going wrong, then turn it into a lesson to avoid the same mistake in the future.
7. Empower agents with modern technology
No matter how efficient your call center agents are, they’ll always be hindered by tech if it’s too complex, slow or outdated. If the software they use slows them down in any way, misses vital features or is too difficult to learn - it’s time to change it.
Modern solutions are a one-stop shop. Call centers rely on a lot of information, but previously this was in the form of multiple separate tools such as CRM, sales software and helpdesk tools. Now, cloud-based call center software enables a much higher level of productivity, reduces employee frustration and boosts overall performance.
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