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Changing the Face of Call Center Technology

Within the call center industry, new technologies are emerging that help reduce call wait time, direct issues to the appropriate personnel, and ultimately improve the customer experience. That being said, call center agents still hold the cards for determining the success of the call center. So, how are the latest technologies affecting the agents and their performance levels? This article takes a closer look at how advancing speech analytic tools and call recordings are helping re-shape agent behavior.

It’s no secret that call center agents carry a heavy load – and the value of having an informed agent cannot be understated. It permits more effective problem solving and solution generation, and enables agents with improved information to establish and nurture customer relationships – ultimately driving service-based revenue. After all, isn’t the end goal all about how to increase revenue while lowering upfront expenses?

Using the Right Tools

Innovative hosted cloud solutions, such as TCN, provide companies with instant access to customer details and information. Wasting time searching for customer information or not having record of prior calls opens doors to error and end-user frustration. Time delays and information gaps plague customer calls. Time is vital, and in this industry, first impressions mean everything. The speed and effectiveness of how the issue or question is addressed shapes the consumer’s overall perception. If calls are handled in a timely manner, not only does agent productivity increase, therefore positively affecting the call center’s bottom line, but the company’s reputation also improves. When calls or questions are handled in an appropriate and timely fashion, customer retention is significantly boosted.

Opening Doors for Agent Connectivity

An interesting fact about call recording is that it has the potential to increase productive outcomes and help reduce problematic calls. It is a simple fact that behavior is different when monitored.  This has benefits for the caller, the agent, and the company that agent represents.

As a caller, knowing that each call is being recorded for quality assurance gives a certain piece of mind that a customer’s reason for calling is important to the company.  It can also improve a caller’s demeanor and can even lead to that person being more patient and agreeable as he or she is less likely to act inappropriately on a call knowing that someone will have recorded proof of any uncivil exchanges.

The same benefits apply for an agent. Most people don’t like to be recognized for doing something wrong. However, most people do like to be rewarded for doing something right.  Knowing that each call is recorded puts added pressure on the agent to filter out a certain level of inappropriate behavior and can even encourage model behavior, engender better exchanges, and lead to more productive agents.

Agent call recording can be evaluated with many different speech analytic tools.  One of the simplest and most cost effective ways is agent scoring.  In this process an individual listens to a certain sampling of an agent’s recordings and scores the call on a few different metrics.  These metrics can be answered with a yes or no, such as did the agent verify the caller’s first and last name, or they can be formatted more subjectively such as if the agent’s “friendliness” could be ranked on a scale from 1-5.  A simple agent score card with a mix of objective and subjective questions will help to score each sampled exchange.  Scores can be built into a commission or incentive plan to reinforce the company’s goals for customer service. With free call recording and one click access through a service like TCN, agent scoring is a no brainer and should be part of any company’s operational repertoire.

Call recording analytic tools can range in cost and scope for how the evaluation is accomplished.  Live people, or systems that use algorithms that include signal, tone, speech to text and even phonetic analysis can all be used to flag problems in call recordings.

Thanks to improved technology that has taken over some of the more mundane duties, agents can now focus attention on providing improved customer service.

Call center technology also presents a number of implications to consider from a managerial perspective:

  • Metrics: Improved metrics and information sharing helps resolve customer issues in a timely manner. With proper data analysis, supervisors can identify and resolve bottlenecks in interactive voice response; make changes to call trees on the fly; and tag specific agents according to skill levels.
  • Time management: Improved time management will permit wider coverage by each agent, leading to lower overhead for the organization. Call routing helps maximize agent efficiency by routing calls in one of two ways: to customized recorded messages or to agents already logged into outbound dialing campaigns. When this happens, the incoming calls automatically pause the outbound campaigns giving priority to the live incoming call. This strategy makes agents far more versatile and eliminates the need to designate agents specifically to either inbound or outbound duties. 
  • Client contact: Having a blended solution alone increases client contact rate by 20-50 percent over traditional outbound-only campaigns.

Call Recording Benefits

Call centers have also seen significant benefits that can be attributed to advanced call recording technology, including:

  • Reduced personal liability – Call recordings provide agents with more security against customer disputes.
  • Reduced error and improved quality control – Agents tend to provide the highest level of service with as little error as possible.
  • Reduced personal calls by agents on business’ time – Knowing that every call is recorded increases ownership and honesty on the agents’ behalf.
  • Training – Recorded conversations can be used from a managerial aspect to educate agents on the dos and don’ts of customer service.
  • Improved operational flow – Supervisors gain insight into work process flows and are able to adjust accordingly to increase efficiencies and avoid bottlenecks.

What’s Next?

Providing agents with innovative tools such as speech analytics and call recording technology offers the opportunity to optimize their performance, reduce errors, and significantly increase their work output. In today’s connected age, when people are constantly on the go and always searching for ways to save time and money, call centers needs to keep pace and provide the highest level of service that customers have come to expect. The industry is still some time away from complete automation, but it’s trending in the right direction.

These improved technological advances are leading to improved agent behavior and productivity, which in turn allows them to better meet the needs and wants of their customers. Isn’t that what every organization should strive for?

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