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7 Ways BI Improves Agent Efficiency & Productivity in the Call Center

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Dave Bethers

Vice President of Enterprise Sales

Improved agent efficiency and productivity turn call centers from a cost into a profit. The two qualities can also create a competitive advantage, which is key for growing organizations. If customers receive the help they need quickly and courteously, they’re more likely to stick with a company and spread the word about the experience with friends and family.

But impacting efficiency and productivity rates isn’t as simple as demanding that agents work longer hours or take fewer breaks. In fact, taking such measures to address the issue is almost certain to backfire and lead to unhappy employees and higher turnover rates.

The solution is to combine observed agent behaviors and processes with call center business intelligence (BI). The two provide valuable insight into actual contact center performance, allowing businesses to strategically, effectively and sustainably impact efficiency and productivity.

Let’s examine seven ways BI can improve agent efficiency in the call center.

1. Choose the metrics that matter most. A number of metrics are involved with a call center’s operational excellence. On the qualitative side are customer satisfaction reports. On the quantitative side are first call resolution (FCR) rates, average speed to answer (ASA), auxiliary time, adherence to schedule and many more.

Businesses should prioritize two to three metrics to monitor, analyze and fine-tune. Once you become comfortable measuring for those outcomes, you can address others. This will help keep data from getting too “big” for managers and create realistic and achievable goals for agents in the call center.

2. Identify inefficient business processes. Without BI, there’s no way to pinpoint the exact cause of inefficiency. It’s all guesswork—the equivalent of throwing darts at a bulls-eye while blindfolded. BI removes the blindfold so managers can precisely target inefficiencies and re-engineer workflows.

For example, do you have too many agents scheduled for inbound calls during slower periods of the day? Can these agents be retrained for other tasks to optimize their hours on the clock? BI can help managers answer these questions and provide the answers needed to get everyone back on track.

3. Use reports as incentives. Adults are not unlike kids – they respond to rewards and incentives. Think of the charts in a classroom showing students’ progress. Students want to perform well, so they study more and behave better.

Adults respond similarly to real-time metrics about their job performance. They will strive to answer more calls or to increase FCR. If they have reports about customer satisfaction, they will often give an extra 40 percent. BI can enable call centers to tie agent performance to specific quantitative and qualitative customer experience outcomes, which incites them to change their behavior.

4. Measure effectiveness, not only productivity. A single set of numbers tells a specific story. If productivity metrics are analyzed without balancing them against others, i.e., efficiency and resolution effectiveness, a skewed tale can result. Both effectiveness, or impact, and productivity metrics should be used together to have the most insight into agent performance, because the greater the insight, the better the solution.

5. Better allocate time, resources and staff. BI gives a holistic picture of the call center, complete with total call volume and its peaks and troughs. Managers should use this information to schedule the right number of agents at the right time. They should also combine call volume metrics with other data, such as holiday trends or open enrollment seasons. By leveraging multiple data points, managers can increase overall efficiency and productivity.

6. Send calls to the right agent – every time. Long wait times frustrate customers and cost businesses around $130 billion in lost productivity annually. Tiered support and agent callbacks are ways to solve the problem. With BI, calls can be “waterfalled” from the first tier—usually a customer’s primary point of contact—to the second or, if the customer prefers, the voicemail for their assigned agent. This will decrease on-hold times and increase FCR rates.

7. Offer more live call monitoring and coaching. BI frees managers to do the job they were hired to do: manage call center agents. Rather than pulling reports, they can monitor calls and coach agents.

This can be especially helpful to new hires when they first start. It not only gives them a safety net but also gets them up to working speed much more quickly. Plus, it shows that managers care about their people. That will translate into more engaged employees, and more engaged employees are happier, more efficient and productive.

Improving agent efficiency is a matter of addressing processes and behaviors, but managing them requires businesses to have greater insight into their call centers. They have it thanks to call center business intelligence tools. They can use the software to analyze peak call times, schedule agents and drive agent and business performance. When they do, they will see increased call center efficiency, streamlined operations, reduced costs and significantly improved customer satisfaction.

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