9 Ways to Improve Your Contact Center Operations

Customer Service, customer service reps, social media, Twitter, Facebook, retail, Forrester, Conversocial, contact center, contact center agents

Having worked in contact centers installing OMS and ERP systems in hundreds of multichannel companies, we know the value they bring to your business. Here are some of the ways:

  • Helping customers by taking phone and ecommerce orders, using chat and email to resolve problems and managing social media engagements
  • Saving the sale after a disappointing experience
  • Providing technical service information for complex products
  • A revenue center through upsell, cross-sell, outbound sales and selling services;
  • Providing customer feedback to management that results in new product and service ideas
  • Streamlining support involved in handling online marketplaces and big box stores selling your product (Amazon, eBay, Sears, Walmart, Target, etc.) for editing and processing orders, managing inventory, etc.

In stark contrast, many ecommerce pure plays largely don’t see or haven’t experienced the value of contact centers. However we see the great value they can bring in terms of driving revenue and providing customer-centric service, rather than just hoping customers can get all they need from a self-service website.

The contact center has changed dramatically as multichannel shopping has developed. Our hope is this list will give you valuable tips on improving your contact center:

Order taking, customer service and fulfillment: We ask clients on a regular basis, when is the last time you and your senior management have listened to customer calls? The most common response we get is, “It’s been years.” One of our recommendations is that you set up a lunch and learn where you listen to actual calls live, or pre-recorded calls. This will show you the good, the bad and the ugly – key strengths, weaknesses, product ideas, etc. Done on a regular basis, these lessons will bring you closer to the customer.

Implement a call monitoring program: If you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with a poorly managed contact center, you know that poor quality and service can damage your brand. Setting up a call monitoring program where several calls are listened to, evaluated and graded monthly for each representative is essential for maintaining quality and uniformity. This will help you enforce scripting of calls and assist in training and coaching, but requires some investment in equipment and staffing.

Benchmarking to improve performance: Multichannel selling has caused many companies to rethink how they measure performance and establish KPIs. By channel, what are the benchmarks that will measure quality, service levels (e.g. average speed to answer, abandonment rate, etc.) and cost (e.g. cost per contact, cost per call, cost per order, third-party costs, etc.)?

Develop and track the cost of employee turnover: Studies have found that turnover costs between $3,000 and $10,000 per head between recruitment, hiring, testing, training and coaching new employees. Additionally, hourly wage rates and benefits continue to climb as more politicians are calling for a $15 minimum wage, and employee benefits range between 15% and 25% of wages or salary. Evaluating and retaining employees is a key multichannel strategy. Are you hiring to fill simply seats or create a career path?

We hope this assists you in developing programs to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve customer service in your business. You can download the entire 9 Ways to Improve Your Contact Center.

This is the third of a four-part series on reducing costs, increasing productivity and improving customer service in multichannel businesses. Over the last two weeks we offered installments on improving fulfillment and inventory management. Next week will feature 13 Ways to Improve Information Technology. These four sections will give you over 70 ways to improve your fulfillment operations, all of them time-tested solutions that our clients have implemented.

Curt Barry is president of F. Curtis Barry & Company

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