Jeff Allinder, VP-Client Revenue Optimization
A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to build a call center from a pilot team to a large organization. While I had spent years working with call center leadership developing everything from IVR paths to incentive compensation models, this was my first time with ownership of the organization. I was surprised at how much I had to learn about building a high-performing call center team. I learned many valuable lessons during that time. I’d like to share three of those lessons with you.
1. Our agents have complex jobs.
Do not underestimate the skillset required of a great customer service agent. Agents notoriously must multitask while on the phone with our customers and prospects. They often have multiple applications to use. They must understand our products, services, and prices as well as those of our competition. On top of that, we need them to have pleasant, positive, and energetic conversations with those customers and prospects.
If we are to optimize our customer experience, we should be on a constant quest to simplify these things for our agents.
How do we help empower agents to focus on the customer experience with confidence?
- Simplification of user interfaces
- Clear and concise documentation on products and pricing
- Use of scripts and key talking points
2. Culture is key.
Our agents have demanding and often energy depleting jobs. They often experience negativity from customers and prospects. Whether that negative experience or perception was within our control or not, our agents have an opportunity to flip these negatives to positives.
Aside from tools, the biggest influence we have on those interactions is in how we create, cultivate, and care for the culture of our team. It is simple and easy to focus on metrics in our call center – answer times, abandonment rates, handle times, and performance metrics – but a winning call center is more than metrics.
During the course of an aggressive ramp-up period, a key leader on the team needed to be replaced. We decided to bring over an experienced sales leader from another part of the company, and his impact was immediate and significant. He was energetic, enthusiastic, and genuinely cared about his team. Not only did morale and performance improve, we started learning about minor concerns that had gone unvoiced. The team felt comfortable and safe under his leadership. Company performance improved and the new, improved culture became more sustainable with greater trust and communication.
Winning cultures are not all the same, but they are characterized by a sense of purpose, alignment with organizational objectives, and positive energy. Consistent and intentional focus on these objectives is required to keep the culture of a call center in tune.
3. Aligning skills creates value.
Specialization in a call center is a wonderful way to achieve efficiency. Our agents come from different backgrounds and are armed with a diverse range of skills and interests. While this can be a challenge in smaller call centers, there is opportunity for specialization in operations of all sizes.
Segregating types of customer interaction and defining different roles allows us to leverage the talents of our team and increases efficiency. This begins with defining the types of calls that we receive, then dividing them in ways that align our resources with our customer demand. And as the size of the customer base grows, there are more and more ways to develop increasingly specific interaction types to segregate that customer demand.
Looking for proven ways to enhance your call center culture and performance? Schedule a free, 30-minute phone call with Jeff. Jeff Allinder is VP-Client Revenue Optimization at Leverage Broadband Strategies. He brings over 20 years of experience in residential and commercial sales optimization, incentive compensation modeling, consumer insights and analytics. Prior to Leverage, Jeff led Marketing and Product Development for Summit Broadband and Programming for Hargray Communications. He also previously led Marketing Analytics and Consumer Insights at Bright House for seven years and was their Senior Director of FP&A. Jeff holds a MBA in Operations from Vanderbilt University and a BA in Business Administration from Huntingdon College. Contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.