Call Centers are a difficult beast to manage. The margins can sometimes lie on a razor-thin line, especially considering the overseas competition that can be brought to bear on a rival marketing campaign or as outsourced help for your very own business. Prices are lower abroad, but customer service has seen a resurgence in the United States over the past few years due to increased frustration with offshore call center representatives. American consumers are more comfortable speaking with local customer service staff, but the goal of sourcing trustworthy, US-based agents don’t have to break the bank.
Hire Quality Reps
By finding quality employees, you will find that less time must be dedicated to the training phase of employee acclimation, and more time can be spent on test calling and finally going live on the floor. Finding employees with previous experience is essential to maintaining a high-performance team. Seeking out veterans with ingenuity will provide a spark of life into a call center reliant on rigidly published sample scripts and lagging call completions.
Experienced agents are inherently skilled at getting the information needed in rapid time or coaxing a shy or even angry customer into opening up and hanging up happy. These are skills that are developed over time and will give you a leg up in the race to outperform costs if you can recruit individuals who already possess these intrinsic talents.
Strive To Keep Your Top Performers
Americans have largely moved away from long term career work. On average today, we spend just under five years in any given job, with service work rating the fastest in turnover at closer to three. This means that your center will likely see a relatively steady turnover, resulting in routine training and a corresponding short term dip in productivity. It is impossible to avoid employee turnover altogether, but there are some steps you can take to ensure that your best reps stick around for long.
This can yield a twofold benefit. Primarily, you will see consistency in output among steady and reliable agents. But holding on to quality employees can show results in the less experienced representatives that they interact with, as well. When your phoning veterans spend time with the newer members of staff or sit next to them during a shift, their habits and phone etiquette will be mimicked, raising the overall standard among all callers.
By offering bonuses or other incentives and creating a fun and friendly environment for your staff, you will attract the best agents around and keep the ones who rise to become top performers for longer.
Intelligently Utilize Cost-Effective And Powerful Technology In Every Upgrade
As much as we would like to avoid the topic, hardware breaks down and software grows outdated. Sometimes the turnover happens over years, other times you might hit an unlucky patch and require more than one rotation in a year. Generally speaking, technology cycles through an update every 18 months.
This is Moore’s Law — an observation of the inverse correlation between the doubling of silicon chip power compared to reductions in price to fabricate that chip. However, just because a bigger, better system has been released, doesn’t mean you need to run out to your local PC supplier to buy a few dozen for your agents at so tight an interval. Obsolescence is a relative phenomenon, and oftentimes a model year off the current system is the most effective solution for your operation, rather than whatever has just hit the shelves.
One way to stay ahead of the curve is to implement a predictive dialer in your calling setup. This is a simple step along the dialing process that batch dials numbers on your calling list for the office and sends on live calls to available representatives. This all but eliminates the enormous downtime between calls that exists with hand dialing methods. Time is money, and when your agents are not live on the phone, your profits drag. By installing a predictive dialer you are able to direct calls straight to each rep’s desk in a fraction of the time.
Call center operations are tough, but maintaining a high performing team with modern fixtures will ensure that the costs of business don’t break the bank.