Wednesday, 13 June 2012

12 Top Tips for Contact Centre Management

Last year we saw many people take to mobile smart phones and social networking sites to communicate with brands, clearly marking an evolution in customer engagement. According to a recent Econsultancy report on the 30th November 2011 however, the customer contact centre remains at the forefront of customer experience and can often be the only ‘human’ interaction a customer has with a brand.

This is quite possibly the reason why so many still prefer a phone call to a tweet or a Facebook message, so the demand for exceptional customer service is as relevant today as it always has been.

Despite this, contact centres are not always received well by customers. Understandable when the myriad reports surrounding contact centre performance, especially abroad are considered. Whilst some practitioners are certainly getting it wrong though, there are many that are providing exceptional customer service.  

So how can a contact centre make sure that they are exceeding their clients’ and customers’ expectations?  The following 12 tips are key to running an efficient contact centre that drives revenues, maintains service levels and increases the customer base.
  •       Quick response – Having a team of agents trained to react quickly to incoming calls and outbound calls is vital. Ultimately, all calls should be answered at all times.  
  •       Eliminating repeat calls – Focusing on eliminating repeat calls to save time and ensuring enough staff are covering the lines is something which should embedded in the running of every contact centre.
  •        Accurate data capture – This is a crucial element to contact centre management and helps achieve greater customer insight. Bespoke data management systems can be adopted to make sure that the correct data is captured accurately and consistently.
  •      Become an expert– In-depth information about the client’s products and services should be learnt by the agents and management. The more knowledge an agent has, the more professional they will be in their dealings with customers. 
  •      Do not script – Building rapport with a customer is a vital constituent of customer service and sounding robotic through the use of a script is unhelpful. Empowering customer service agents is something that should always be the main focus.  Why not read this blog to see why scripting should be avoided? 
  •      Treat customers fairly – Putting customers at the heart of each and every operation, whilst treating them fairly and ensuring that agents are able to work around their needs are the foundations of excellent customer service management 
  •      Follow up – Exceeding customer expectations by making a brief phone call to customers, even after an enquiry or query has been resolved, shows the customer that the business has taken their problem on board and is seeking to avoid similar situations in the future. 
  •      Take ownership of the problem – There is nothing worse than being passed from pillar to post when you are trying to solve a problem. This is why it is so important for customer service agents to stop the cycle and take ownership of the problem themselves, subsequently limiting the damage to the company’s reputation. 
  •      Communicate the overall goal – Making sure that the overall message and objectives are clearly defined and measured by management is imperative. Creating guidelines and goals for staff to work towards are both key in fostering a company culture of achieving and exceeding targets. 
  •      Real-time statistics – Team leaders and supervisors should have the insight into their individual and departmental statistics in real-time, as it has an immediate impact on behaviour and performance. 
  •      Managing peak time calls –Being fully prepared for the busy periods of calls and ensuring that right staffing levels are utilised will improve overall performance. To achieve this it is vital to forecast future staffing requirements and to implement a flexible shift model which adapts to call volumes, as these can vary day to day causing overstaffing /understaffing. 
  •      Call-handling staff performance – Key performance statistics/ indicators (KPIs) should be applied as this will help keep track of staff performance and can indicate the quality of service delivered by individuals. KPIs could include the number of answered calls per person and average call duration. 
These 12 tips can form the basis for an effective and successful contact centre that has the capability to deliver exceptional levels of customer service and ensures that enquiries are dealt with professionally, rapidly and positively.