Despite the increasing number of contact methods for customers in the digital world, your call centre is a critical point of contact for many of your customers. If they have an enquiry that’s best resolved with a quick chat, they want to clarify something before committing to a purchase, or they need support, they’ll pick up the phone.
The pressure is on for contact centres to deliver savings. According to a PwC report, 77% of global CEOs say their primary focus is creating operational efficiencies and driving revenue growth. In this blog, we’ve developed five tactics to improve call centre efficiency, from calculating it correctly, to measuring the right metrics and enhancing scripts.
What is call centre efficiency?
Call centre efficiency involves optimising your call centre processes to better serve your customers, by eliminating operational inefficiencies. Often, this involves things such as putting metrics in place that can help measure how efficient your agents are at things such as average handling time, first call resolution, and number of calls handled.
Call centre efficiency is important because it helps you optimise four key areas of your call centre workflow: quality monitoring, agent performance, agent productivity and cost-effectiveness. Most importantly, it can actively help you reduce costs and enhance the customer experience, which is key given that approximately $75 billion is lost due to poor customer service.
How do you calculate efficiency in a call centre?
If improvement is the goal, you need to review your current standing. Call centre efficiency is the ratio of output gained from your business such as revenue and profit, to input, which is operation costs, people and time spent. The more efficient your score is, the more profitable your call centre is.
A simple way to calculate call centre efficiency is to work out your current level of call centre productivity. This can be calculated with a simple formula:
Call centre productivity = (Total output / Total input) x 100
Total output can be defined as the amount of time your call agents spend achieving their targets, and total input is the amount of time they have to spend on achieving these targets in a working day. For example, if your agents work 7-hour shifts and they spend 5 of those hours on calls and doing after-call work, you would calculate as follows:
( 5 / 7 ) x 100 = 71%
How can I improve my call centre performance?
1. Measure the right metrics
Metrics are the most effective way of introducing call centre efficiencies. Tracking the right metrics allows you to understand what you’re doing well and where you could make improvements. Call centre metrics you should be tracking include:
Abandonment rate - Abandonment rate is a strong indicator of how satisfied your customers. If they’re hanging up before speaking to anybody, it suggests they’re frustrated with the wait times.
Average handling time (AHT) - AHT tracks the amount of time your call centre teams are spending on a call with customers. Typically, AHT begins as soon as the agent picks up the call and ends when they disconnect.
Cost per call (CPC) - This helps you understand how much a call is worth in comparison to how much money was made from the call. Tracking this makes it easier to understand which calls you need to focus on.
First contact resolution (FCR) - FCR directly relates to customer satisfaction. It tracks the number of calls in which your contact centre agents are able to address their needs or convert a lead the first time, without further contact.
Without metrics in place, it’s impossible to know how well your contact centre is performing. Plus, if you can access customer intel to measure success, you can improve call centre operations, deliver exceptional experiences and boost your profits.
2. Develop detailed call scripts
Every contact centre leader dreams of building a team of high-flying agents capable of reducing average handling times, boosting conversion rates and consistently hitting quarterly revenue targets. One-size-fits-all sales scripts won’t deliver that for you. Well-trained and supported agents are more likely to resolve queries on first contact.
Collecting data on how to influence more successful outcomes is the perfect way to train agents faster and develop winning scripts. By highlighting keywords that are related to certain call outcomes, you can test wording that will lead to desired outcomes. For example, rather than saying ‘would you like to upgrade to first class?’ you might find ‘would you like more legroom?’ to be a more persuasive call-to-action.
With call intelligence tools, you can evaluate how engaging the calls coming in, and going out, of your contact centre are. Uncover the best calls to use for script development and use them to rapidly upskill your teams, helping you deliver exceptional customer experiences without putting more pressure on your agents.
3. Pay attention to your customers
If you want to improve your call centre efficiency, start with the people calling you. Satisfying your customers and crafting better experiences depends on you paying attention to what they say – and what they don’t say. Every single time your customers pick up the phone, you’re presented with an opportunity to unearth a goldmine of data.
Speech analytics software can monitor conversations to flag keywords or trends before you’re even aware of them and tie these trends to positive or negative call outcomes, so you know what to do more, or less of.
With Conversation Analytics, you can shine a light on the words and phrases that transform hesitant callers into happy customers, allowing you to evolve your call centre operations based on real data from your customers, instead of guesswork. It can tell you things such as:
Why people are getting in touch, by monitoring and logging the topics of conversation, including any associated keywords and phrases.
The outcome of each call, so you can surface trends from calls that delivered positive or successful outcomes.
How customer sentiment is changing throughout the call, so you can pinpoint exactly what makes the phone call experience positive or negative and improve from there.
4. Work on optimising call deflection
Fast AHT might seem positive, but if you’re not actually resolving queries and customers are forced to call back, you may find that your FCR takes a fatal hit. Each and every phone call is an opportunity. When your customers pick up the phone, you can extract detailed intel that can be used to minimise wait time and reduce pressure by deflecting calls efficiently.
For example, if you have a record of frequently asked questions or queries that can be resolved via other channels, such as your website or a digital self-service channel, you can work on call deflection by solving issues before they even start to dial. Plus, handling minor queries elsewhere ensures your contact centres are focused on customers that are more likely to generate revenue.
Speech analytics tools like Conversation Analytics are perfectly placed to help you monitor and analyse calls at scale. They can help you automate and streamline analysis, saving your agents time and giving you vital intel that will have a real impact on your business and improve call centre efficiency.
5. Focus on continuous improvement
It’s not enough just to on-board agents and leave them to get on with it for the next five years. Continuous improvements and regular training sessions will help your contact centre agents feel engaged, supported and confident. This is key, as it will reduce turnover and ensure that they’re ready to provide exceptional customer experiences. There are a few ways you can champion continuous improvement in your contact centre.
The first is to use call intelligence tools to automatically monitor and log outcomes of calls coming in and out of your contact centre, at scale. By tracking every call that comes through your contact centre, you can spot trends or common mistakes that you can address in regular training sessions. This will update your agent’s knowledge, address those make-or-break moments, and help your agents stayed focused on upskilling throughout their careers.
The second is to share learnings from your best-performing agents. Tools such as Agent ID help you take control of your agents' success by replacing guesswork with clear insight. It enables you to see how well each team member is doing, giving you complete visibility of how they – and therefore your business – are performing. Agent ID can enhance your training by showing you:
What went well and what didn't on individual calls
Turn team performance from 'good' to 'great'
Make manual monitoring and mindless searching a thing of the past
Fuel better decisions and processes for your contact centre