13 Call Center Best Practices That *Actually Help* (Pt.2)

This is the second instalment in our list of call center best practices.

Ready to make a tangible difference to your business’s CX?

Good – let’s get started.

(You can read the first installment here.) 

#7 Make repetition your enemy

There are plenty of ways you can annoy customers. But making them repeat themselves is a big one.

In the previous installment we talked about data-driven call routing. That’s step 1 to bringing down repetition. But sometimes callers talk to more than one agent. (When they call more than once or get transferred. It happens.)

So how do you minimize repetition then?

  • First, put customer data on a screen. This feature (usually called ‘screen-pop’ or similar) is standard for most call center platforms. Basically, it takes key CRM data plus anything time-sensitive – like open Helpdesk tickets – and supplies it to the agent as the call connects.
  • Second: give agents a defined hand-off procedure for transferring calls. They should be able to quickly describe a customer’s issue so the caller doesn’t need to start over.

What’s the benefit?

When customers have to repeat themselves, they get annoyed. In the long term, annoyed customers are likely to leave your business. In the short term, they’re likely to take it out on your agents.


#8 Define (and measure) the metrics that matter

Contact centers are among the most metric-motivated industries in the world.

But a lot of call centers struggle to see what’s really going on.

Choosing the right metrics is nuanced. You obviously need call volume, duration, time in queue etc. You also need to keep an eye on customer sentiment metrics like CES, CSat and NPS.

But the biggest challenge contact centers face is getting too much data – and having no way to organize it.  

The best solution is a simple dashboard that’s easy to configure. This is another feature that any respectable call center software should have. Pick the measures you really need and make them visible to the right people.

(While automatically compiling that data in your reporting.)

What’s the benefit?

You can’t finish a marathon wearing a blindfold. And running a contact center is like running a marathon every day. Get the facts. 


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#9 Investigate your virtual call center options

A virtual call center is a call center that doesn’t operate entirely from a central location.

In practice, that usually means letting some of your agents work from their home or a private office.

The appeal of virtual call centers has grown steadily as tech issues fell away. These days it’s easy to connect someone to your systems from basically anywhere.

So, is setting up a virtual call center a piece of call center best practice? Not necessarily. 

But it’s definitely worth investigating the option. (Covid-19 would be a lot easier to plan for of more contact centers could send staff home – without disrupting service.)

What’s the benefit?

Virtual call centers attract more qualified candidates, have lower staff turnover and save around $25,000 per agent. Any of those appeal to you?

#10 Test your IVR as often as possible

It should go without saying – but it doesn’t. Plenty of contact centers put IVR testing at the bottom of their to-do lists. 

IVR testing definitely is call center best practice. It breaks down into three categories:

  • Testing capacity – can your IVR handle a lot of calls?
  • Testing functionality – does the system work as it’s supposed to?
  • Testing UX – what’s the IVR like for customers?

It’s difficult. It’s time-consuming. It’s pretty boring (unless you’re an IVR nerd.)

But it’s also vital. After all, you wouldn’t employ an agent who was bad at call handling. And your IVR deals with way more people than any single agent.

What’s the benefit?

Improving your IVR makes it easier for customers to use, reducing your call abandonment rate. You’ll also convince more customers to use IVR for self-service rather than waiting for an agent.

#11 Follow up on negative feedback

Most contact centers look for actionable lessons in their feedback.

That’s a good place to start – but why not get proactive too?

Contacting angry customers is how you come back from your mistakes. So how do make this happen at scale?

The babelforce approach is pretty simple. First, you integrate your autodial software with the system that records complaints. (Like CRM or Helpdesk.)

Then you create an automated process (without writing any code, of course) which schedules outbound calls from trained agents to those customers. You can, with minimal input, create a dedicated retention machine.

What’s the benefit?

Almost 75% of customers who were proactively contacted by a business felt a positive change in the perception of that brand. It’s a no-brainer.


#12 Use Helpdesk ticketing to track customer issues

Zendesk, Freshdesk, Zohodesk and many others have solved a very serious problem in customer service.

How do you keep track of customer issues?

CRMs have always let users update a ‘notes’ section – but that’s far from ideal. Agents miss vital context and there’s no active workflow or follow-up.

What’s more, investigating those notes is time-consuming. Nobody ever wants to hear ‘I’ll just put you on hold while I read this.’

In a typical 6 minute call, 75% of the time is spent doing manual research. That leaves a pathetic 90 seconds – less queue time – for actual interaction.

Here’s the only motivation you should need to invest in a ticketing system: it’s what every CX leader already does.

What’s the benefit?

Shorter and more productive calls with better interaction and less hold. All the things customers like. Your agents will also have an easier time using a more intuitive system.


#13 Integrate, integrate, integrate

You have two options.

You can run a CRM, a Helpdesk, an IVR, an ACD, a predictive dialer…

Or, you can run a contact center.

The difference is huge. APIs are the bridges you build between the systems you depend on, easily (and automatically) moving data wherever it needs to go.

That means no data siloes and fully automated call and process flows.

The value for an enterprise contact center runs to millions of euros. Not only do you stop wasting time on manual processes; not only do you eliminate data siloes; you can actually get a lot more ambitious in the kinds of service you offer customers.

Most of the best practice in this list is only possible once your systems are deeply integrated. 

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