A recent survey compiled by destinationCRM and Knowlagent examined the call center (customer contact center) primarily investigating call center productivity and issues surrounding goals and performance of call centers and call agents. Here are a few of the key findings and highlights.
Productivity and People
With call centers, productivity is the key to high performance, customer satisfaction and a successful operation. However, a majority of respondents mentioned having difficulty finding employees that possess the skill set needed for their centers. Additionally, management was highlighted as an area of importance in influencing call center performance and productivity. When corporate goals and culture were closely reflected in call center management both performance and productivity were positively impacted.
Too Much Technology or Not Enough?
In the survey, half of respondents felt their technology was not keeping pace with their competitors. Yet at the same time, the volume of web interactions is on the rise despite an uncertainty within the market as to the exact way to handle some of the newer web channels that are emerging. While most call centers already handle web chat and real-time messaging, only one-fourth handle social network-based inquiries from customers. Many companies rely on a specialized social networking team, or leave it up to individual departments.
Performance vs. Productivity
Today a majority of call centers are attempting to measure both performance, the end results of an agents’ work, and productivity, measurable output of work per agent. Another finding was the ‘dark matter’ time, time when agents are not interacting with customers, was reported to be close to an hour per day per employee. Many companies are attempting to measure the dark matter of agent performance and productivity – but give employees wide discretion on how they should fill that time. This time could be used for difficult-to-measure offline tasks, such as account research or catch-up data entry or even time spent waiting for the next call.
Training budgets for call center employees tend to be on the lean side. Most companies rely heavily on either one-to-one training or computer-based modules. On the plus side, the most visible direct outcome from additional training is enhanced customer satisfaction. Nevertheless, about half of the respondents say they deliver agent training with any frequency. And, despite increased growth in social networking as a customer interaction option, few organizations offer training in this area.
The call center that knows where it is going (i.e. is well-aligned with corporate goals), is technologically savvy, and invests in performance and productivity analytics as well as training, generally has a leg up on the competition. The fruits of that labor typically translate to success.