Contact center optimization: 6 tactics to sharpen your contact center operations

By | December 11, 2021

Optimizing your contact center is crucial: here are our six sharpest strategies for contact center optimization to improve your efficiency, cut costs, and enhance your customer experience.

Good business is all about finding an edge.

That might come in the form of a radically new product or service that no one else has developed and which offers a solution that customers are longing for. 

Otherwise, your edge might come in the form of a distinctive brand voice that resonates with your audience and helps you stand out from the competition.

Or you might get ahead by providing first-class customer experiences that win over your prospective customers and have them coming back to you time and time again.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, it is the third one that holds more weight in swaying customer buying decisions. 

According to PwC, 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, and around one in three consumers (32%) say they would walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.

Optimizing the way your contact center functions is critical to delivering memorable customer experiences. It can also help you find efficiencies in your operation that increase staff retention rates, streamline your business, and cut operational costs.

We’re going to take you through six specific strategies to get to grips with what contact center optimization is, and the best tactics to follow when working on your own business.

Let’s get started.

What is contact center optimization?

Contact center optimization refers to all the activities undertaken to increase the efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness of your customer service. These optimizations might relate to your internal operational processes, or to the specific experience your callers receive when they interact with your business.

Combined, these can not only boost your customer satisfaction and loyalty rates but also create a more enjoyable work environment for your employees, increasing their own engagement and productivity rates.

Why do you need to optimize your contact center? From reduced overheads to workforce optimization

Any good contact center manager needs to keep regular track of key performance indicators (KPIs) throughout the year. Typically, your KPIs might include customer retention rates, average wait time, or reviews relating to service quality: whichever you use, it’s important to regularly measure the effectiveness of your call center operation.

Ultimately, call center optimization means finding ways of improving these KPIs, and increasing the value you’re getting out of your contact center.

Here are just a few of the biggest things companies gain when they optimize their call center:

1. An enhanced customer experience

In a crowded marketplace, customer expectations have never been higher. So offering a high-quality customer experience is a must. This means ensuring queries are dealt with promptly, accurately, and politely by agents who know what they’re talking about and have the tools to help readily at their disposal.

Implementing the right optimizations today can help managers maintain a high quality of service throughout their opening hours; otherwise, you risk falling behind your competitors. That means investing in optimization and getting your workforce management right as well.

2. Reduced agent burnout

Contact centers can be fast-paced, high-pressure environments, with agents expected to jump quickly from interaction to interaction with customers who might be pushy, angry, or just plain difficult.

Unsurprisingly, that can take its toll, and burnout is a common condition among call center agents, reducing retention and increasing employee turnover.

By optimizing your contact center, however, you can help turn the tide, by giving your staff the right technology, training, and support they need to approach their work feeling refreshed and ready. You can foster a healthier work environment by planning call center staffing in a proactive manner such that no single team of agents is burdened with high call volumes. It gives your employees greater autonomy and technological support, and you’ll see those burnout rates reduce – and the quality of your customer service rise.

Related reading: What is call center burnout and how to overcome it?

3. Lower operational costs

You run a business, and there’s nothing wrong with looking at your bottom line as a key metric of success. The same is true for your contact center: it’s an important part of your operation, and you want to be sure that you’re getting sufficient value from your investment.

Optimizing your contact center operations is the best way to identify inefficiencies in your current setup. By cutting back on wasted productivity, you can create a happier workforce – and reduce your operational costs along the way.

4, Automated, more efficient operations

Automation is here to stay. Businesses all over the world are taking advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can quickly and accurately take care of the more straightforward, repetitive, menial tasks.

Contact centers are also increasingly relying on automation – from AI-driven voice bots that can answer simple voice-based queries and to intelligent call routing that takes the caller to a skilled agent, automation can be of great support for contact center operations. Certainly, it’s a sure-fire way to increase your efficiency and productivity.

According to Gartner, by 2030 a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customers via self-service bots, so the time to automate and move into the future is now.

5. Maintained service level targets

It’s no secret that workforces are changing and that the outlook for remote work is far brighter now than it was prior to the pandemic. Operating with a distributed team brings a lot of benefits for your overheads and customer service coverage, but it can also present a challenge when it comes to the quality of your service.

Whether or not your team works remotely, by optimizing your contact center today you will be able to continue to hit your customer service targets, thanks to the powerful tracking, forecasting, and data analysis features that come with modern call center software. These allow you to track call center metrics such as call volume, maximum queue size, call waiting time, average handle time, etc. with precision and in real-time, so you can continue to identify areas for improvement, and any specific reasons why targets may or may not be being met.

Related reading: What is service level calculation?

How to optimize your contact center the right way?

As with anything, there are plenty of common mistakes companies make when working to enhance their customer service offering.

To avoid these pitfalls, we’re going to break down our top six tactics for going about your optimization in the right way and reaping the biggest rewards possible from your efforts.

1. Integrate all customer communication channels

Customers are looking to an increasingly diverse array of digital channels to communicate with businesses, and companies are responding in kind: so much so, that being active across multiple channels is now expected, rather than merely desired.

Telephone communication is still a key pillar of customer service, but you’re also likely to now be juggling customer engagements across social media, email, webchat, and even in-app messaging. While this is great for the customer, it can present quite a headache for your service agents.

As a result, investing in omnichannel software that brings all these channels together in one place is essential for optimizing your contact center provision. By making the switch, you’ll give your employees a significant helping hand when juggling multiple channels and complex customer interactions. It can create a seamless workflow where all customer communication channels are integrated and coordinated like a single channel. 

2. Give agents access to customer details

Using a detailed customer relationship management (CRM) system means giving your agents all the tools they need to do their job well.

Customers are always happiest when they receive a quick, accurate, and lasting solution to their problem, and there’s little more annoying than having to repeat a request multiple times to multiple different agents.

By collating all the customer’s details in one place, including notes on previous interactions and the nature of their problem or request, you can significantly reduce your resolution times. That improves the customer’s experience, and increases your employees’ productivity.

3. Use speech analytics to gauge call sentiments

Using speech analytics is a great way of improving the customer journey.

Advances in natural language processing allow AI systems to interpret audio and analyze it for tone, vocabulary, speech rhythm, and inflection. Amazingly, this means software can read the emotional state of a caller as well as their subsequent satisfaction level – to an impressive level of accuracy.

When fed back into predictive models, this can help your agents learn how best to deal with particular types of calls, and also inform your call routing for future interactions, for example by rapidly escalating calls made by those in emotional distress. Taking advantage of this technology can seriously help your call center performance management and increase your effectiveness.

Related reading: 10 of the latest contact center technology trends

4. Use intelligent call routing

Interactive voice response (IVR) systems are commonplace, and they help direct your caller traffic to the right department or employee, based on voice-activated menu functionality.

AI-powered systems can go one step further, however, using a series of pre-set and machine learning-powered algorithms to classify calls based on real-time customer and agent data. These systems then intelligently route calls to the most appropriate – and available – agent. That might be a staff member who has a pre-existing relationship with the customer, or a more technically proficient team member if the request is complex.

All in all, intelligent routing means customer queries are far more likely to be dealt with by the first agent the customer speaks with, improving the experience and speeding up your operation.

5. Invest in continuous agent coaching

Having a strong team isn’t just about making the right hires, it’s also about providing regular coaching and training to your agents – especially when they are relatively new to your business.

Modern tools can help with this by providing real-time feedback on calls and giving managers the ability to listen to or even barge in on calls. That means they can provide live coaching and advice, helping to keep your team at the top of their game.

To stay competitive, agent training is a must.

6. Choose the right contact center software

Technology is only worthwhile if it’s working for you and your team, so there’s no point in investing in software if it is going to get in the way. The right call center software can enable your operations with several handy features like call routing, conferencing, forwarding, and even motoring features like call recording, call barging, call whispering, etc. 

However, Deloitte predicts that 75% of contact centers will move to the cloud in the next two years, so it’s definitely the time to think about your own systems and the optimized potential that you can tap into.

By identifying the right software that can offer the flexibility, affordability, and advanced integrations your staff need, you can give them a headstart in providing efficient and high-quality customer service, every time.

Optimized, and ready to go

Building a successful call center relies on providing quick, clear, and friendly customer service. Contact center workforce optimization can help you do just that, with tools and analytical data easily accessed via cloud-based dashboards.

But it’s important you work with a software vendor who understands your situation and is willing to work with you to continue to optimize your operation. After all, true optimization means keeping regular track of agent performance and ensuring it stays at the high level that you – and your customers – expect.

Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman

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About Freshcaller

Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller) is a modern-day contact center that enables businesses to provide omnichannel customer support through phone, chat, helpdesk, email, and social channels with great efficiency. With its cloud-based architecture, Freshdesk Contact Center brings together the best of legacy features like IVR, call waiting, VoIP solutions, and advanced call routing capabilities like Smart Escalations, Customizable Performance Reporting to help you set up state-of-the-art call center operations.

Visit our website for more information.

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