Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Call Centers: Driving Success Through Agents

February 29, 2008

Every business, regardless of industry, has made a significant investment in both technology and personnel, with the goal of growing their market share and brand recognition. To that end, the investment a business makes in its contact center technology and agents plays a pivotal role in retaining customers, as well as attracting new ones.

 
It is widely acknowledged that poor customer service is certain to result in customer churn — a Harris Interactive study showed that nearly 75 percent of respondents no longer do business with company as a result of inferior service. Furthermore, fewer than half of North American respondents say they are satisfied with the customer service centers they deal with.
 
The message to call centers, then, is clear: Agents are critical to customer retention. Likewise, the question call center managers must ask themselves is, “Can your agents keep your customers?”
 
To ensure the answer is “Yes,” call centers must be willing to make the appropriate investment in training and development of their agents. Considering more than 60% of a contact center’s operating costs go into its workforce, the importance of proper agent preparation is easy to see.
 
There are several aspects to ensuring agents are well-versed in both technology and procedures in their centers. To learn how you can create the most effective call center staff, join Allyson Boudousquie, Director of Business Process Marketing, PerformanceEdge Group, at Aspect Software, for an hour-long Webinar called, “Bottom of the Ninth – Can Your Agents Keep Your Customers?” on Tuesday, March 4 at 11:00 am EST.
 
During the presentation, Allyson will show you how to improve the overall effectiveness of your training program, ensuring your training investment provides the maximum ROI. In addition, she will discuss methods for reducing agent downtime due to a reliance on classroom training — in today’s communications environment, there are a number of ways to effectively train and educate agents without pulling them off task for an extended period.
 
With today’s abundance of distributed contact center environments and work-at-home agents, it is also important to understand how to provide consistent and level-specific training to all agents, which includes developing reusable, yet customizable e-learning content and providing the appropriate resources for agents. Allyson will also spend time considering how centers can develop these resources to maximize their training efficiency.
 
Of course, training is only a part of the call center success solution. On Thursday, April 3 and 2:00 pm EST, Allyson will continue this three-part series, discussing hiring, analysis, and training practices that can further enhance your overall call center effectiveness.
 
The success of a center is largely based on a single, simple theory: The longer agents are with a center, the more significant their contribution, and thus, the higher the cost for replacing them becomes.
 
In order to retain customers, then, it is also important to retain call center agents, which largely comes down to hiring the right individuals, in addition to training and development opportunities. Without the appropriate career opportunities, the best agents are increasingly likely to seek employment elsewhere — in fact, that holds for most employees.
 
In Part II of this series, Allyson will detail a focused hiring process, including how to choose the right candidates. She will also delve into how to effectively identify employees that require what level of training, as well as how to prioritize agent development opportunities, including some of the tools available to help understand and improve individual and operational performance.
 
Finally, Part III, “How Do You Analyze and Support Critical Success Factors in Contact Centers?” on Thursday, April 17 at 2:00 pm EST, she will address performance improvement and optimization.
 
The typical contact center focuses heavily on the call itself and the specific actions of agents during the call to increase operational efficiency. That means getting the call to the right agents with the right skill sets, to monitoring and scoring calls for quality management.
 
But these steps are merely the beginning of an effective performance management program. Not only do centers need to measure the right things, they must also know how to use the information they glean from these steps, especially as they relate to corporate goals.
 
To increase the effectiveness of call tracking and agent performance measurement, contact centers should be able to identify customer issues from analyzed calls and quickly initiate corrective actions. Also, in today’s complex technology environment, with various systems, applications, and platforms all used concurrently, the ability to synchronize those elements automatically communicate with each other is an important measure in identifying problems in real time and making adjustments, and ultimately achieving enhanced operational efficiency across centers.
 
So, to ensure you are able to manage your contact center environment the way you want to — in a way that will drive business success — join Allyson and myself for this three-part series that will help you better understand how you can ensure you have the tools to elevate your agents and your center to new heights.
 
To register for the Webinars, click here.
 
Erik Linask is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY, IMS Magazine, and Unified Communications. Prior to joining TMC, he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.
 
For all the latest enterprise IP communications, unified communications, and contact center news, please click here.

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