TASKE Technology's Call Center Blog

In last month’s blog, we talked about the effects of staffing cuts on your contact center. Both lower customer satisfaction and increased staff turnover have consequences that affect the profitability of the business. You may be able to avoid cuts if you can show that the resulting costs may be more than any gains through salary reductions.

However, if you’re faced with a situation where your staff has been reduced, there are some things you can do to help mitigate the effects on customer and employee satisfaction. Let’s look a few of these.

Reduce customer demand on agents

Customer and employee satisfaction decrease when fewer agents are available to handle the same level of customer demand. If you can reduce customer demand, you may be able to offset an increased workload on your reduced staff. A great way to do this is through self-service options. Whether you post FAQs or videos on your website, or provide more information via the IVR, self-service options may resolve customers’ issues before they connect with agents. As an added bonus, the lower call volume may decrease your cost of operations, given that direct contact with agents is generally the most expensive way to provide solutions to customers.

The key to effective self-service options is to ensure that the information provided is both useful and accessible to customers. For example, time that you put into identifying the top 10 issues encountered by new customers will pay off in lower call volumes only if the self-service option that provides this information is easy for customers to find. Assuming they are somewhat Internet-savvy, you could provide a FAQ on your website’s home page.  However, if your customers prefer picking up the telephone over surfing the web, providing this information via the IVR may be a better choice as a self-service option.

Keep agents informed of the current activity status in the contact center

Supervisors can manage how an agent spends time only to a certain point. Defined timeframes for breaks and meetings puts a structure around how an agent spends time during a shift, but there is still some degree of discretionary time. To help agents use this time in a productive manner, it’s important that they are aware of the status of current activity. Agents who plan to attend a team meeting can choose to reschedule if the number of calls waiting is increasing. Similarly, if there are many idle agents waiting for calls, some agents can choose spend time doing callbacks or research.

There are many options for keeping agents informed of current activity, such as wallboard displays or local workstation applications. Because agents respond based on the information available to them, make sure that data is available in up-to-the-second real-time. Data updates that are even 5 minutes delayed mean that agents are responding to out-of-date conditions in the contact center.

Empower agents to make decisions that help resolve calls quickly

Giving agents real-time information to make appropriate decisions about how to spend their discretionary time increases productivity, improves agent job satisfaction and spreads the workload more evenly. To increase customer satisfaction, you can empower agents to make decisions that will resolve calls more quickly.

For example, your contact center may have a policy that any refund over $200.00 must be approved by a supervisor or senior-level agent. After staffing cuts are made, you may have fewer staff who can approve refunds. As a result, agents may wait longer for approvals while customers wait on hold. You may want to review this policy to determine whether increasing the limit to $300.00 lowers wait and on hold times, without increasing the number of inappropriate refunds provided.

While it’s important to optimize operations to run cost-effectively, organizations need to carefully consider the impact of cutbacks, particularly for customer-facing teams. If you do need to work with reduced staff, you’ll probably need to make structural and procedural changes to your team to accommodate the new work environment. Be creative and engage your team in finding solutions to keep both employee and customer satisfaction high.

See you next month.

Tags: agent activity, agent productivity, budgets, call volume, customer satisfaction, customers, operating costs, real-time data, self-service.

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