What ingredients make a best-in-class inbound call center?
Despite increasing efforts to automate customer service using self-service issue-resolution formats – inbound call center volumes continue to increase. In fact, volumes are up nearly 8% over the previous five years. The increasing volumes mean that businesses need to spend more time focusing on this area.
A recent study by the Aberdeen group interviewed more than 150 customer service center executives to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to delivering best-in-class inbound call center service. Here are some of their findings.
To achieve best-in-class customer service performance companies must:
• Improve and simplify information access for agents
• Equip agents with the necessary tools and information to recognize and execute on revenue opportunities
• Focus on knowledge effectiveness and continue to integrate knowledge management across all support channels
Some of the benefits of providing the right tools, information and training for agents are exceedingly apparent in client satisfaction and improved workforce productivity. The call centers that exhibited best-in-class service experienced 92% customer retention as well as an 8% decrease in service costs over the previous 12 months. In terms of productivity, these call centers displayed an 86% level of agent utilization and 87% first-call resolution performance. These numbers were significantly higher (20 to 30% or more) than those call centers delivering laggard performance ratings.
One of the insights achieved from the study was the concept of driving revenue through the contact center. More than half of the responding call centers cited a need for more focus on up-selling and cross-selling by agents. As a result, 35% have seen an increase in the number of customer service calls resulting in a sale over the previous 12 months. Nevertheless, low ratings in this area suggest significant work and focus is still needed.
To achieve best-in-class inbound call center performance, several key areas need attention:
• Standardized escalation procedures in place
• Immediate capture of customer feedback
• Executive oversight of operations
• Real-time visibility of agent performance
• Frequent training in all key areas
• Organization-wide access to online information on customer feedback, service and assets
• Customer information access
• Multiple analytics tools
• Knowledge management
• Quarterly (or more frequent) measurement of call agent satisfaction
• Weekly or daily agent access to overall performance
When call centers devote time and resources to these key areas, typically best-in-class customer service is the result.