Contact center leaders have a lot on their minds. From the quality of their technology to creating a memorable customer experience, there are plenty of blinking lights that require attention. While all these elements are crucial to a successful call center, it’s important not to lose sight of the foundation of customer service success: the productivity of contact center reps.
It’s easy for contact center supervisors and managers to say they want to maximize agent performance, but it’s difficult to actually affect change. Agent productivity—or lack thereof—makes all the difference between customer service teams who provide subpar support and those who play a pivotal role in the business.
There are plenty of reasons for low productivity including lack of motivation, poor incentive systems, gaps in communication, and more. Regardless of the root issue, every contact center manager should review a few key areas that have the ability to significantly improve agent productivity.
Contact centers agents spend approximately 25% of their time idle. This paid downtime, when agents are not interacting with customers, is detrimental to contact center quality and productivity. Of course, some idle time is necessary in order to prevent agent burnout. However, contact center leaders should view high rates of idle time as an indicator of inefficient operations. Real-time task management systems do a great job of estimating the number of contact center agents required for smooth day-to-day operations. These tools collect and measure live data and metrics to produce more effective call center schedules. Because these tools look at operations in real-time, contact centers can adjust the number of available agents to interact with customers if call volume suddenly increases—resulting in greater call center efficiency and productivity.
Better-trained agents lead to more productive teams. In fact, contact centers that provide ongoing agent training achieve a 4.6% year-over-year improvement in agent performance compared to contact centers that don’t. Managers can use modern training software to quickly create simple, yet effective lessons on new products, services, skills, and procedures that agents need to know. Meanwhile, agents access, engage with, and review interactive courses and programs right at their desktop, instead of spending time in a classroom. This online learning strategy makes idle time more useful by doubling down on productivity as reps actively learn important knowledge while still being available to help customers.
Like training, coaching is an effective way to teach new techniques and provide regular feedback to agents—all with the goal of improving call center performance and quality. Once agents have learned important skills or pieces of knowledge, it’s easy to let those ideas get stagnant over time. Coaching sessions are a great way to refresh and develop employees or address glaring performance issues. Record agent interactions to use during coaching sessions to highlight areas and skills that can be improved—and applaud agents for superior examples of service. Most agents want to learn, grow, and know how they’re performing. An ongoing coaching program is the ideal venue to reinforce skills, techniques, and best practices—so everyone can do better work.
One of the biggest obstacles to productivity is the time that agents waste looking for answers. When a customer reaches out to the contact center, they expect the agent to have the expertise to quickly help them. Building and implementing a central hub of company knowledge allows agents to find any piece of information they need within a matter of seconds. With a great knowledge base, agents aren’t squandering time asking questions, searching through endless portals, or putting customers on hold while they find someone with the answer. The benefits of a singular source of truth is clear—it directly impacts CSAT and NPS scores and enables agents to do their best work with on-demand access to the correct answers, meaning that first-contact resolutions will likely improve. When agents feel equipped to do their jobs, their confidence rises—and so does their productivity.
Contact center managers typically track and share real-time quantitative information like number of callers in queue, longest waiting time, and average waiting time. However, the most successful contact centers don’t just focus on information—they focus on insights. Using first-call resolution and CSAT details that directly correlate with customer experience, contact center leaders can refine management approaches and provide more effective feedback to boost productivity. Furthermore, consider sharing every agent’s real-time metrics so they can see how well they are doing in comparison to their coworkers. Oftentimes, this incentivizes and motivates agents to higher performance and greater productivity.
Increasing agent productivity requires a strategic focus on optimization, training, and agent empowerment. Contact center leaders who tackle these areas head-on will reap huge rewards in employee productivity and overall team performance.
Want to learn more? Stop by the Lessonly booth at ICMI Contact Center Expo, May 21-24 in Orlando, FL.
Rachel Saltsgaver is the Content Manager at Lessonly, the leader in team
training software for customer support teams. With a blend of both
corporate and creative experience, Rachel writes regularly about call
center training and support team best practices on Lessonly’s blog. Connect
with Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or on Twitter at @RSaltsy and @Lessonly.
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