Boosting call-center efficiency

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Chris Conway
Chris Conway

Designing and delivering an effective customer care teleservices program is a balancing act. First, you must estab­lish the level of service to be offered. That takes the hours of operation and the speed with which calls will be answered into con­sideration. Then there is the cost of people and technology to deliver the service. The key to success is bringing these variables into alignment so they satisfy the needs of both the consumer and the business.

At DialAmerica, we've seen myriad call center operations serving many business-to-business products and service categories. Based on our experience, we've identified a few basic principles that can be applied to any call center to maximize its efficiency. We know these principles work.

First, spread out the workload. Larger campaigns give you opportunities to dole out responsibilities among agents. By doing this, you will spread out the individual vari­ability in handling time over a team, resulting in a higher level of efficiency.

Reduce idle time. Set benchmarks to ensure that precious minutes are well spent. Idle time between calls can be filled with cleri­cal duties or outbound call responsibilities. By the same token, you should set reason­able time limits for post-call administrative tasks to help increase efficiency.

Another way to avoid time-consuming delays is by integrating systems. Make it easy for call agents to access all necessary data so that they can quickly toggle multiple programs or screens.

Increase self-service capabilities. Use inter­active voice response (IVR) technologies and ask consumers to input identifying informa­tion before they reach a live person.

Provide agents with a Frequently Asked Questions sheet, which outlines the knowl­edge they need to help consumers. This will help agents resolve issues more quickly.

While call center turnover rates are high, they can be reduced by starting recruits in an ‘incubation group' with a lower super­visor-to-rep ratio. As they progress, move reps to larger teams with bigger ratios.

Superior customer care is a goal of virtually every brand, but great service costs money. Boost the efficiency of your internal systems and you'll moderate those costs.

cconway@dialamerica.com

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