How to Improve Contact Center Efficiency: 5 Fundamental Strategies

August 4, 2023
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9
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Contact center efficiency

Managing contact center efficiency can be a significant challenge.

As the lifeline between businesses and their customers, contact centers bear the responsibility of delivering exceptional service while minimizing costs and maintaining operational efficiency.

Striking this delicate balance requires a strategic approach - incorporating new technologies, agent performance, and streamlined processes.

And, as 50% of consumers feel that the customer support offered by most businesses needs major reform, there’s certainly room for improvement in this area.

So, if you’re looking to unlock the full potential of your contact center - you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll provide the ultimate guide to help you supercharge efficiency and overall performance. We’ll cover:

  • What is call center efficiency?
  • The importance of improving contact center efficiency
  • How to optimize contact center efficiency
call center professionals managing efficiency

What is call center efficiency?

Contact center efficiency refers to the ability of a call center to optimize its resources, processes, systems, and technology, in order to:

  • Maximize productivity
  • Reduce costs
  • Deliver high-quality customer support

The process of optimizing call center efficiency involves refining and streamlining various aspects of contact center operations.

As a result, you’ll boost overall contact center performance while making your customer service smoother and more cost-effective.

video chat customers and leads surrounding agent

The importance of improving contact center efficiency

Improving contact center efficiency is crucial because it can significantly impact profitability and long-term business success.

What's more, in an era shaped by digital communication, call centers play a pivotal role in shaping the overall customer experience.

The following are some key reasons why contact center efficiency matters:

  • Customer relations: A more efficient contact center leads to faster resolutions and reduced wait times for customers. This creates a better customer service experience which, in turn, fosters positive customer relationships and helps build loyalty.
  • Cost reduction: Efficiency improvements directly reduce costs by streamlining customer support and optimizing resource allocation. Over time, these efficiency gains lead to significant savings and a more cost-effective contact center operation.
  • Increased productivity: A more efficient contact center means that agents can reach their full potential and handle customer issues more effectively. Agents in an efficient call center can serve more customers in less time, thus boosting overall productivity.
  • Employee morale: A well-organized and efficient contact center helps foster higher employee satisfaction and morale. When agents can handle their tasks more smoothly, it reduces stress and frustration, contributing to a positive work environment.
  • Competitive advantage: In today’s competitive market, a more efficient contact center can serve as a differentiating factor. Customers are more likely to choose a brand that provides an efficient and seamless customer experience.
  • Scalability: Efficiency improvements make it easier for contact centers to scale their operations as the business grows. This adaptability is crucial for meeting increased demand without compromising service quality.
  • Brand reputation: A well-functioning contact center can significantly enhance your business’s reputation by delivering superior customer service and experiences. This minimizes the chance of negative feedback by elevating customer perceptions of your brand.

Ultimately, working to improve contact center efficiency is a necessary endeavor that’ll benefit both your business and your customers.

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How to optimize call center efficiency in 5 steps

Now that we’ve covered the importance of contact center efficiency, let’s dive into how you can actually improve it.

In this section, we’ll detail five essential strategies for maximizing call center efficiency.

1. Manage performance and set goals

If you want to improve call center efficiency, you need to practice effective contact center performance management.

Performance is a clear indicator of the overall efficiency and productivity of your contact center and its agents.

The best way to monitor and improve performance is by tracking the right performance metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators).

Many contact center software solutions provide the tools necessary to track this data. With Talkative, for example, you can integrate with Google Analytics.

You can also utilize advanced features like sentiment analysis and our supervisor dashboard editor - allowing you to monitor performance in real time.

Some of the key metrics and KPIs for contact centers include:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score
  • First contact resolution rate
  • Average response time
  • Average wait time
  • Average handling time
  • Conversion rate
  • Abandonment rate
  • Total number of interactions and escalations

By analyzing performance data, and collecting customer feedback, you can ascertain how your contact center is performing overall. 

You’ll also be able to identify the areas in which you excel and those that require improvement.

Once you’ve gained this information, you can set efficiency-specific goals to work towards.

Make sure you include a plan for how you’re going to achieve these targets within a specified time frame.

Example: By the end of next quarter we will decrease our live chat average response time to a maximum of 20 seconds. To achieve this, we will implement the use of canned responses and provide staff with updated training.

Remember to also schedule regular performance reviews to keep track of your metrics over time.

That way, you’ll be able to monitor your progress and ensure that you’re heading in the right direction.

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2. Empower your agents

Agent performance can be a game-changer when it comes to increasing contact center efficiency.

In fact, agents who are engaged and satisfied at work can boost a business’s profitability by over 20%.

Not only that, empowered and well-trained call center agents are better equipped to handle the full spectrum of customer conversations.

They can solve problems faster and more accurately - all while delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Unfortunately, keeping agents happy at work can be challenging for supervisors and managers.

After all, the role of a call center agent is notorious for causing high levels of stress - it’s why 59% of agents are at risk of work-related burnout.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to rectify this issue and help your agents thrive. For example:

  • Comprehensive training: Equip your agents with the necessary skills, autonomy, and knowledge to handle all customer queries. Be sure to regularly provide updated training on new products, services, and best practices. Investing in agent training and development demonstrates that your contact center values its employees’ growth and success.
  • Clear communication: Foster open, two-way communication between management and agents. Regularly provide constructive feedback to help agents understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Encourage agents to share their insights and ideas, and actively listen to their feedback as well as provide your own.
  • Access to information: Ensure that agents have easy access to a knowledge base, FAQs, AI assistance, and all other relevant resources. Equipping them with the best tools and technologies will streamline their workflow and improve overall performance.
  • Rewards and recognition: Acknowledge and celebrate agent achievements and outstanding performance. Recognition can be in the form of public appreciation, incentives, awards, or career growth opportunities. Feeling valued motivates agents to excel in their roles.
  • Work-life flexibility: Offer flexible scheduling options when possible, taking into account agent preferences and work-life balance. Allowing employees to balance their personal and professional commitments can enhance job satisfaction and reduce burnout.
  • Career advancement opportunities: Establish clear career paths within the contact center and support agents in their aspirations for growth and advancement. Providing promotion and development opportunities helps retain talent and encourages agents to excel. It can also reduce the risk of agents feeling stuck in a rut and seeking career growth elsewhere.
  • Employee well-being initiatives: Implement wellness programs or initiatives that prioritize agents’ mental health and well-being. These can include stress management workshops, access to counseling services, self-care days (some businesses call these "duvet days"), or fun activities/excursions.
  • Regular team get-togethers: Conduct regular team meetings or huddles to discuss challenges, share successes, and provide updates. These gatherings foster a sense of belonging and keep agents informed about important developments. You should also invest in providing events for employees outside of work, allowing them to bond and socialize away from the contact center environment.

With the help of these strategies, you can transform your contact center into a positive working environment that empowers your agents and helps them reach their full potential.

In the same vein of fostering a positive work environment, implementing a milestone program for your employees can also profoundly impact morale and productivity.

By recognizing crucial moments in an employee's career, you not only enhance their sense of belonging but also drive engagement and satisfaction across the board.

happy call center agents

3. Go omnichannel

In this day and age, customers digitally engage with businesses via a variety of communication channels.

And they want to be able to interact with brands at their preferred pace via their preferred medium.

This means that dated technology and tiresome phone queues simply don’t make the cut if you want to provide the smoothest contact center experience.

Case in point, a worrying 67% of customers find it difficult to navigate call center phone systems and are often unable to reach a live agent.

That’s why more and more contact centers are choosing to implement omnichannel solutions.

Take Talkative for example.

With our platform, all of your engagement channels are integrated - allowing you to manage every customer interaction within a single pane of glass.

What’s more, you can easily escalate and switch between all channels - from live chat to web calls to video chat to cobrowse - without disrupting the customer journey.

Going omnichannel significantly improves contact center efficiency by providing a centralized approach to managing interactions across multiple digital touchpoints.

It also ensures a consistent and contextualized customer experience regardless of the channel a customer chooses to use.

Customers can switch between channels without repeating information, and agents are aware of the previous interactions - avoiding redundancy and frustration.

customer enjoying omnichannel practices

4. Leverage AI and automation

The rise of contact center AI and automation has revolutionized the way businesses operate.

These emerging technologies have been proven to save time, increase agent productivity, and boost efficiency - all of which contribute to reducing operational costs.

It’s why 91% of call center leaders have made AI and automation a critical priority for 2023.

There are numerous applications of AI and automation that businesses can leverage to improve contact center efficiency, including:

  • Chatbots: Chatbots and virtual agents can be deployed on your website, app, and social media channels to handle large volumes of FAQs and basic problems without intervention. In fact, it’s estimated that chatbots can resolve customer issues around 69% of the time - saving time for your agents and ultimately increasing efficiency.
  • AI Agent Assist: Agent assist tools are AI-powered systems that can be used to elevate efficiency and performance. They work by providing agents with real-time guidance and response recommendations during customer interactions. With the Talkative platform, you can leverage these technologies by integrating with OpenAI or Google Agent Assist.
  • Interaction transcripts: Thanks to natural language processing technology, contact centers can use AI to convert audio recordings of customer conversations into transcripts. With Talkative, for example, you can opt to have every video chat or voice call automatically transcribed into a highly accurate, text-based format. It means you can gain a detailed insight into every interaction and its context - without having to watch or listen to a recording.
  • Interaction summaries: Powered by Talkative’s OpenAI integration, this feature condenses live chat, web call, and video chat interactions into a concise summary - allowing you to understand the content and outcome of every interaction in a matter of seconds. This will not only save time for your agents and supervisors but will contribute to maximizing efficiency too.
  • Canned messages: Canned messages are pre-composed responses used in contact centers to reply to common customer queries, issues, or requests. By using canned messages, agents can quickly access and send appropriate responses without having to type the same information repeatedly. This saves time and enables agents to handle more interactions in a shorter period.
  • Real-time translation: Real-time translation technology enables contact centers to communicate with all customers in their native tongue. It works by using machine learning and natural language processing to detect languages and automatically translate messages in real time. This enables your agents to communicate quickly and efficiently with customers, whatever language they speak.

With the help of these technologies, you can significantly improve contact center efficiency by automating various processes, reducing time-wasting, and empowering your agents to perform better and faster.

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5. Encourage customer self-service

Self-service tools augment contact center efficiency by empowering customers to resolve queries and issues on their own - without engaging with a live agent.

It’s why 81% of consumers want businesses and call centers to provide more self-service options.

When customers can find answers to their questions or perform tasks themselves through self-service options, it reduces the volume of interactions that reach your customer support teams.

With self-service, customers can access information and support 24/7 without waiting for assistance, leading to faster issue resolution and maximum convenience for your customers.

This decreases the overall workload on agents, boosts customer satisfaction, and optimizes contact center resources.

There are a range of self-service options that businesses can provide to empower their customers and improve the digital customer experience. Here are some examples:

  • FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions): Creating a comprehensive FAQ section on your business’s website or app can help customers find answers to common queries without needing to contact customer support. You should also provide a knowledge base of articles, guides, tutorials, and troubleshooting resources that customers can access to find solutions to their problems.
  • Virtual assistants: AI-powered virtual assistants (i.e. chatbots) on websites and messaging platforms can engage in automated conversations with customers, answering their questions and providing assistance 24/7.
  • Community forums: Establishing a community forum on your website or social media platforms can be a valuable self-service resource. Customers can use forums to ask questions, share experiences, and collaborate with other customers.
  • Customer portals: Providing customers with access to personalized portals enables them to view their account information, track orders, manage subscriptions, and update their preferences themselves.
  • Self-booking systems: In industries like travel and hospitality, self-booking systems allow customers to make reservations, schedule appointments, or manage their bookings online.
  • Status tracking: Implementing tracking systems allows customers to view the status of their orders or support tickets in real time without contacting you to request an update.
  • Password reset: Self-service options for password reset or account recovery enable customers to regain access to their accounts without contacting support.

By offering a range of self-service options, you can empower your customers while creating a more efficient and cost-effective contact center operation.

customer getting info using self-servce video kiosk

The takeaway

Fine-tuning contact center efficiency won’t happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process that takes time and effort.

That being said, the potential rewards are worth the challenge. Because, when it’s done well, performance and productivity will improve across the board.

Not only that, you’ll also enjoy a significant increase in customer satisfaction.

But if you want to get the most out of your efforts to improve call center efficiency, you need the right technology to facilitate them.

That’s where Talkative comes in.

Our solution provides a complete suite of contact channels that’ll empower you to connect instantly, and effortlessly, with all your digital customers.

With enhanced live chat, web calling, video chat, cobrowse, social media messaging, a chatbot, and more - all seamlessly connected into your workflows - you can take your contact center performance to the next level.

You can even pick and choose the channels and features you want to implement, allowing you to tailor our solution to your specific business needs.

It means you can supercharge efficiency and deliver an exceptional digital customer experience - without breaking the bank.

Want to learn more?

Book a demo today and discover how you can turn your contact center into a profit center by getting Talkative.

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