Thought Leadership

A Beginners Guide to Contact Center Agent Productivity: Do’s and Don’ts

Eager to improve contact center agent productivity but not sure where to start? There are a lot of working parts in a modern contact center, and it can sometimes be challenging to identify what the underlying cause of a productivity issue is. Below, we’ll go over some basic do’s and don’ts, so it’s easier to identify and correct productivity issues in your contact center. 

Do: Focus on Quality

There are tons of metrics to measure the success of your contact center, but it all comes back to one thing: quality. When your agents nail quality—they’re solving issues, delighting customers, and addressing customer needs—most other metrics fall into place.

Don’t: Make Speed Your #1 KPI

All too often, companies worried about productivity get tunnel vision around KPIs like handle time. Unfortunately, hurried reps tend to provide worse service and sometimes don’t even address why the customer reached out in the first place. In the end, the customer winds up calling back repeatedly, and subsequent calls take even more time because the customer is understandably frustrated. Before you use any metric like speed to determine success, consider the steps agents might take to meet your goal and avoid focusing on KPIs that could damage the experience.

Do: Provide Tailored Training

Contact center agent training is often “canned,” meaning each person goes through a series of videos or lectures and learns how to handle specific tasks. While this is an ok start, agents will be coming in from various backgrounds and will have different skill levels. Be sure to build each person up in other areas too, such as company knowledge, EQ, decision-making, and leadership.

Don’t: Only Train New Hires

On the one hand, training employees helps build up their skill sets, so each agent can address more concerns for customers or handle issues more effectively. On the other hand, though, it’s a huge motivator for employees to receive ongoing training. It can boost confidence and morale, which directly influences productivity too.

Do: Leverage Tech

Whether you’re exploring alternate customer service channels or automation and AI, tech has the ability to transform contact center operations in a big way. If investing in tech is out of your budget, consider call center outsourcing. Leading business process outsourcing (BPO) companies often provide services for multiple companies at once, so they’re able to split the cost of cutting-edge technology between various projects, putting it within reach for more companies.

Don’t: Fail to Address Interoperability Issues

Research from CCW concludes that 80 percent of contact center agents have to access multiple systems in order to provide customer support, which can slow down the process and create unnecessary bottlenecks. Streamline the process and provide agents with the tools they need in a single place whenever possible.

Do: Offer Autonomy

Sometimes contact center managers worry about agents making the wrong decision so much that they prevent them from making the right ones by adding in steps like getting approval before taking a specific action. The reality is agents who have the autonomy to make decisions are usually more personal, responsible, and flexible with customers, which empowers them to provide better service overall. Simultaneously, cutting out the middleman in the approval process effectively eliminates another bottleneck from call flows.

Don’t: Keep Agents Tethered to Their Phones or Computers

Being on the phone all day can be emotionally and physically draining but maintaining momentum and an upbeat attitude can make all the difference in the world when an agent gets on a call. Sometimes a quick five-minute break from the phones is all it takes to recharge. Trust your team to use their time wisely. It’s also a good idea to give agents a chance to experience the floor—to observe how others are handling calls and see how they fit into the greater picture. Not only is it educational, but it’s highly motivational too.

At DATAMARK, we also engage our teams in community service projects. It feels good to give back, plus it does wonders for team building and morale.

Do: Create a Positive Environment

Everything from motivational posters on the walls of contact centers through positive employee recognition, both informal and through formal recognition programs, impacts the overall environment and productivity levels.

Don’t: Keep Agents in the Dark

Share results with the team and keep everyone informed about what the company’s current goals and concerns are. Take time to explain how each person impacts those results and invite agents to provide their own feedback on potential solutions.

Do: Watch Your Turnover Numbers

Most industries have about a 15 percent turnover rate, according to QATC research, but contact centers range from 30 to 34 percent. Between recruiting, training, and other costs, companies lose over $6,000 each time someone leaves as well. What’s really happening in the background, though, is that each person who moves on sends the contact center back a notch. There’s less experience on the call center floor, longer wait times, more transfers, and all sorts of other issues that impact productivity as a result. Keep an eye on turnover and take steps to retain talent whenever possible.

Don’t: Ignore Feedback from Active Employees

Turnover rates can show you there’s a problem, but oftentimes if you actively listen to your current employees, they’ll tell you how they feel long before it’s represented in your numbers. Request feedback regularly and be prepared to act if there are problematic patterns in the responses.

Do: Manage Your Flow

Call flow is one of the leading influencers in overall productivity—not just how many calls are coming in, but that they’re being routed to the right person based on the customer’s needs. Integrate skills-based routing to ensure calls are being handled promptly and that bottlenecks are eliminated.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Outside Help if Your Contact Center is Underperforming

More often than not, companies create internal contact centers simply because it’s a necessity of doing business, but back-office processes aren’t what they do best. Switching to a BPO call center, or at the very least bringing in a call center consultancy, can help organizations address issues like productivity, so they can focus on their core business and free up resources.

Get Help Improving Your Contact Center Agent Productivity

With three decades of experience supporting the needs of large organizations through BPO, DATAMARK can help your organization improve its contact center metrics too. Contact us to learn more.

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