Tuesday, September 16, 2014

12 Tips to Ramp Up Contact Center Performance

A good contact center manager is always looking for new and innovative ways to improve customer service and performance. Here are 12 tips that might be helpful. Some are a little outside the box, but sometimes that is where the best ideas can be found.

1. An office makeover
Will a more colorful workspace and new office furniture make a difference in how agents perform? Studies have shown that most people are more comfortable and motivated in appealing surroundings.

2. Call your competitors
Have your agents and supervisors pose as customers and call competing businesses. Find out how they handle typical situations. Doing so will provide a better sense of how your company is doing, as well as more insight into the customer experience.

3. The magic wand

Ask everyone in the contact center, “If you had a magic wand, what is the one change you would make here?” You may be surprised at some of the answers.

4. The challenge of the week
Every week, focus on one specific goal where improvement could be made.

5. Email follow-up
If a customer had a difficult call with an agent, follow up via email with that customer, even if the situation was ultimately resolved over the phone. It’s a nice gesture that will be appreciated.

6. Start the day with a team meeting
Team meetings are always helpful, but once the workday begins it is difficult to get everyone assembled. The best time for these events is just before the shift begins.

7. Role swapping
Have a manager and an agent switch jobs for one day. Doing so may renew the appreciation each has for the work of their counterpart.

8. Celebrate the small successes

Agents do many things in the course of their shift that are beneficial to the company. Pick out 1-2 of these smaller successes and make sure they are recognized. 

9. Share customer feedback
When feedback is received via survey or email, whether positive or negative, make sure it is shared among all agents, managers and supervisors. This will provide important discussion topics at the next team meeting.

10. Suggestion box
The suggestion box been around for decades, but it is still effective because it offers a means for agents to provide feedback in a way that is anonymous.

11. Choose your own reward
Employee incentives are always a good idea, as long as the incentives are really something that would be appreciated. A vegetarian would not want to be rewarded with dinner for two at a steakhouse. Offer agents the chance to create their own rewards (within reason, of course!)

12. Team building competitions
Boys against the girls? East coast natives vs. west coast? There are several ways to divide the agents of one shift into teams, and have a friendly competition on general service or specific KPIs. Make sure the winning team is recognized (see previous tip).

Friday, September 12, 2014

5 Tips for More Effective Quality Monitoring

Contact center quality monitoring begins with establishing goals, then creating a plan for achieving them. These are decisions that can be made among call center management, but agents must be involved early and often. Clear communication is necessary to let them know what is expected of them.

Here are 5 tips for more effective contact center quality monitoring.

1. Develop a Strategy
What does "quality" really mean for your organization? The more clearly and precisely this objective can be defined, the better the chance it will be achieved.

2. Scorecards
Scoring calls – grading them on a number of criteria – provides the raw data that illustrates each agent’s virtues and faults. Quality monitoring scorecards can be a valuable reference tool for determining which call center agents are doing well, which are missing key components of their customer interaction, and which need additional training.

3. Team Meetings
Talk about quality in team meetings. Often these discussions uncover areas of concern that may not be tracked by any system.

4. Use Automated Tools
A quality monitoring effort will be successful based on how well it incorporates call recording, scorecards and screen capturing. Call recording software provides a source of great calls and terrible ones, both of which can be used in training. Quality scorecards measure performance on every aspect of a call, from the greeting and the close to the agent’s command of center policies, product information and ability to answer questions and resolve issues. Screen capturing adds a record of synchronized video, which provides insight into after-call activities, and can expedite the training process by allowing new agents a chance to watch superstars in action.

5. Create a Quality Culture
The more agents are involved in the quality monitoring process, the easier it will be for them to comprehend what is expected of them, and reach the best practice standards specified by the company. The goal is to create a culture of quality bottom up and top down.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

See Cloud-based Workforce Optimization in Action

We just announced a series of webinars about cloud-based workforce optimization in action. Join us on any of these days and see for yourself how to improve the performance of your contact center. See how workforce management, quality monitoring and performance management can work together in a unified solution to give you more insights, to better manage costs and to improve overall customer experience.

For your convenience, we are offering 2 different webinar times:
We hope that you can join us.

It's 11am - Do you Know What your Customer Service agents are Doing?

It’s one of the contact center manager’s most important responsibilities – knowing what each agent is doing at any given time during the workday. Of course, one person cannot be everywhere, but technology makes it possible to monitor agent activity without ever leaving one’s desk.

Monet Metrics delivers the information managers need in real-time, not at the end of the shift or the day. That means managers can react more quickly and correct adherence issues before they impact customer service.

Through this one valuable tool it’s possible to obtain actionable data on:
  • Service levels
  • Answer and abandon metrics

  • Average handle time (AHT)

  • Average speed of answer (ASA)
  • Average talk time (ATT)

  • Forecast accuracy
  • Labor costs and staffing

  • Shrinkage and absenteeism
Proactive performance management takes the guesswork out of knowing what your agents are doing, and how well they are doing it. Monet Metrics takes the guesswork out of performance management.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Performance Metrics and Agent Incentives

Incentives for call center agents are great – every employee likes to feel appreciated – but do you have the metrics to determine which agents are most deserving of special recognition?

If not, the good intentions of an incentive program can backfire, as deserving agents are unintentionally overlooked.

A workforce management solution delivers the performance metrics that are most pivotal to a call center’s customer service effort. Many of these are determined by agent performance. It’s a good idea to track them not only as they relate to agent incentives, but to overall performance efficiency and customer satisfaction. These metrics include:

Average Handle Time (AHT)
The transaction time from the customer’s initiation of the call.

Average Talk Time (ATT)

Which agents are better able to bring a call to a satisfactory conclusion in a reasonable time?

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
This metric also has a direct impact on the number of abandoned calls, all of which represent potential missed sales or customer support opportunities.

After Call Work (ACW)
Often misinterpreted as non-productive time, ACW should be measured as a percentage of total handle time and adjusted accordingly.

Performance metrics help to easily, quickly and fairly calculate performance for each agent to use as a basis for incentives. With this data, managers will always know that rewards are going to those most deserving. To learn more, watch this contact center performance metrics video.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Strategies and Tips for Back Office Workforce Management

Workforce Management (WFM) software has played a vital role in helping contact centers improve customer service. Those that utilize WFM have discovered how it has boosted the accuracy of forecasts and schedules, and calculates necessary resources based on historical data and other variables that would be very difficult to assess any other way.

However, contact centers are also impacted by such back-office functions as sales, marketing and shipping, which may fall outside the purview of the company’s WFM solution. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

More companies are now discovering the benefits of WFM for the back office, which delivers more precise data and analytics on typical back office operations. Now, it’s possible to achieve the same level of transparency and statistical accuracy on any manual tasks, processes and work times. Please also see our previous post on this topic.

When the back office is in sync with the front office, the result is a streamlined operation that is better for management, contact center agents and customers.

Want some tips for back office WFM strategies? Check out this article by Call Centre Helper, which offers more information on how to set up a consolidated view of all functions, and how to involve key personnel throughout the organization in this effort.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Industry Survey Reveals Contact Industry Priorities

MCM Outlook 2014, a new survey from Multi-Channel Merchant, provides an interesting snapshot into the priorities at more than 1,200 contact centers.

When asked, “what is the most important contact center measurement you rely on?” almost half (49.5%) cited customer service scores. This was closely followed by service level and first-call resolution (FCR) rate. Interestingly, respondents that cited first-call resolution doubled from the previous year.

This reflects a belief that callers do not just prefer a quick response, they want one that is informative and substantive, so their issue can be resolved without further communication.

And if customer satisfaction is tied to ease of service, that’s good news for contact centers, because it is a goal they share as well. Contact center managers also place a high priority on first-call resolution, because improving that number also reduces business costs.

There are a number of ways to reduce FCR, including improved agent training and incentives, but the most important difference-maker is a software system that provides the resources agents and managers need, as well as the analytics to help managers set policies that can also work toward this goal.

This is a realization that is also catching on, according to the MCM survey. Last year, 32% of respondents – nearly one out of three – reported that they did not rely on any contact center measurements. That number dropped significantly, to 17.2%, in 2014.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Planning for the Unexpected In the Contact Center

“Planning for the unexpected” may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s an important aspect of contact center management.

It’s possible to do because activities that could be classified as unexpected would not be surprising to a manager – breaks, vacations, training sessions, days off. The only aspect of these activities that is unexpected is when they might happen. Planning for them is made much easier by utilizing the intra-day management and exception management capabilities of a workforce management solution.

Intra-day Management
Using a graphical display of agent schedules, a manager can drag and drop breaks, lunches and other exceptions to adjust the contact center schedule as needed. Real-time updates are instantly recorded, and any surpluses or shortages are displayed for any part of the day. When the unexpected occurs, managers will instantly know the best way to react without sacrificing customer service. 

Exception Planning
The best workforce management solutions, such as Monet WFM Live, provide a fully integrated Exception Planner, with the ability to schedule exceptions such as vacations, training meetings, jury duty, etc. These can be scheduled far into the future or recorded as recurring exceptions.

While many of these activities can be documented days or weeks in advance, the Exception Planner also supports mid-day exceptions as they occur, taking them into account while choosing shifts and scheduling breaks.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Boosting Visibility into Call Center Agent Activities

Watch Video
It’s 11am – do you know what your agents are doing?

The more you know, the better idea you’ll have of how well they are meeting your objectives. And since this is important information, you should get it in real-time, not at the end of the shift or the day.

Proactive performance management makes this possible, with the right technology in place. However, too many call centers still lack the capability to track and measure key performance indicators (KPIs). Without this vital data, forecasting, scheduling and staffing become much more difficult – and cannot be achieved with the same economic efficiency.

With the real-time performance management capabilities of Monet Metrics, you’ll gain the insight you need into how much each agent is costing you, and how often each one stays in (or falls out of) adherence. You’ll get actionable data on such metrics as:
  • Service levels

  • Answer and abandon metrics

  • Average handle time (AHT)

  • Average speed of answer (ASA)

  • Average talk time (ATT)

  • Forecast accuracy
  • Labor costs and staffing
  • Shrinkage and absenteeism
By taking a unified approach to KPIs, and not examining each one separately, managers receive a clear picture into how their contact centers are functioning at any given moment. Armed with this data, it’s easier to make adjustments that result in a better utilization of resources, better cost management and improved service levels.

Proactive performance management takes the guesswork out of knowing what your agents are doing, and how well they are doing it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The True Cloud for Contact Centers: Interview with Monet Software CEO

For years, the term “cloud computing” spoke for itself. It referred to a very specific kind of software delivery system, one that has grown much more popular in recent years.

But lately, there has been a rise in products claiming to offer the benefits of a cloud solution, that provide only a variation on traditional technology, with all of its accompanying costs and complications.

If you are considering cloud computing in your contact center, you can maximize the benefits derived from it by choosing a trusted, reputable provider and getting the right system in place, the first time.

Monet CEO Chuck Ciarlo was recently interviewed for an article that takes a closer look at what defines a genuine cloud solution. As with any true cloud provider, he has been frustrated by those entities that seek to confuse the marketplace with products that promise much but deliver little.

"True cloud solutions, says Ciarlo, are based on a distributed delivery model, allow for frequent updates, are able to be delivered with guaranteed service levels and up times, are multitenant and not managed per instance, and are scalable. These are capabilities not found in client-server products that are simply pushed up to a hosted facility the vendor controls but lack virtualization and scalability, he says."

Click here to read the article.