3 Characteristics That World-Class Call Centers Share
There is world of difference between a world-class call center and an average call center – just ask someone who has dealt with the latter. The first time a customer calls providing a resolution is critical to customer satisfaction, and when a call center is unable to deliver efficient results, it can fracture customer relationships.
Cultivating a world-class call center depends upon three key factors: talent, management, and internal processes. It can help to think of these components as a three-legged stool. If just one area is weak, the entire unit collapses. The following are three best practices that can help a call center move from average to world-class status.
One: Focus on Talent
Many companies (and job seekers) consider call centers to be low-level jobs. They typically hire people from other call centers, or they hire people with very little work experience. But call centers are critical to overall company performance, and they should be treated as such. In order to recruit strong talent, it can help to think outside the box when hiring for open positions.
For example, many call centers find that employees with a background in the service industry make great employees because they understand how to put the customer first. Others find success recruiting retired teachers, because they are often very empathetic. Soft skills are just as important as work experience, and it can have a positive effect on the center to branch out and try hiring talent from other industries.
No matter where you pool your talent, always be sure to position your world-class call center job as a career, not just an hourly paycheck. Call centers are a hub of customer contact, and customers are the lifeblood of a company. When managers and recruiters treat the jobs like careers, it can have a positive effect on how you locate and hire new talent.
Two: Develop Performance Management Plans
Without clear, defined goals, employees have no reason to improve their performance. Every customer contact agent should know precisely what is expected of them in terms of call volume, call time, problem resolution, and more. But more importantly, managers should meet with each agent on a weekly basis to review performance. This keeps employees focused on reaching their goals, and can help managers identify strengths and weaknesses in each agent. This guides future training and planning efforts.
Weekly meetings also foster relationships between managers and their reports. By getting to know employees on a more personal level, supervisors can learn more about their employees’ career goals, how each employee prefers to communicate, and what methods work best for motivation and discipline.
When setting up metrics for world-class call center employees, it’s important to stay focused on processes. When each agent has a set of standard practices to adhere to, it helps to create a consistent customer experience while streamlining workflow. Standard practices also help managers grade employee performance consistently. Everyone is on the same page when it comes to the proper work steps and flow, and there are never any ambiguities about who should be doing what and when they should be doing it.
Three: Reward Strong Performance
Call centers are often more focused on punishing poor performers than rewarding strong ones. Incentives can go a long way toward increasing caller satisfaction rates. When an employee meets and exceeds weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals, there should be appropriate rewards in place. Those rewards don’t have to be expensive, but they can be monetary.
Get Creative With Rewards at Your World-Class Call Center
Simple recognition in a company newsletter can go very far. People like to see their name in print, and they like to know that leadership will see their name and associate it with success. Managers could also try rewarding top performers with an afternoon or a day off, or some other non-traditional type of reward to help keep employees motivated to succeed.
Operating a call center that provides world-class service takes time, resources, planning, and commitment. But by focusing on hiring the right talent, managing agents on a more personal level, and providing a strong set of goals and rewards, you can help elevate the performance of your agents from adequate to world-class.