Call centers and customer care centers are arguably some of the most challenging work environments out there. Agents deal with confused and angry customers, changing product or policy information, customer and client’s high expectations, and unexpected spikes in volume make it much more difficult. If you manage a call center or customer care function, you know how stressful all this can be.
Here are our top five challenges faced by call center managers:
1. Talent Acquisition. The average attrition rate in a call center is 33 percent. That’s an exceptionally high turnover rate when compared to typical turnover rates outside the industry. Finding, training, and retaining quality talent becomes an ongoing challenge. And one wrong hire can do irreparable hard to the customer relationship.
Strategies that help reduce turnover rates are ever-evolving in a call center environment. Some call centers swear by gamification in that they create teams who compete with each other for important stats such as shortest call times. Most famously, Zappos provides parameters for their agents and give them autonomy to operate and make decisions within those parameters. Some other strategies include incentivizing longevity with unique benefits, higher pay, discounts, service awards, and the like.
2. Growing Customer Expectations. Providing fantastic customer service has become a differentiator for a growing number of businesses. Your customer has come to expect service that matches their other experiences with other companies. Across the industry, performance expectations are increasingly competitive. It’s a race to provide the most competent, speedy service available. And the consequences of not meeting expectations are more significant too! Customers may take to social media when they feel they haven’t received the treatment they deserved.
Training and quality assurance is essential. Finding great people to lead these functions is a great start. Uplift your agents with positive reinforcement. This goes a long way toward improving your customer care function too.
3. Viral Experiences. The one-off social media posts about customer service is to be expected. But what happens when a post goes viral, and hundreds, if not thousands of your customers become aware of the situation? A viral post can send the best managers into a panic, or worse, go unnoticed until it’s turned into a social media crisis! Likewise, when enough bad reviews accumulate, it can also create a storm that takes a lot of work to undo. Just think, if your team had been prepared in the first place, you wouldn’t hear about it from social media!
If your contact center is hit by a viral post, the first thing to do is take a deep breath and DO NOT fire off an immediate response. Before responding to a viral post, always have a trusted colleague review your reply. Many companies have marketing staff who specialize in social media management. Their expertise is invaluable during a crisis. When responding to posts, apologize if needed, make the situation right, and express regret for how the issue was handled in the first place.
4. Spikes and Dips in Volume. Predicting call volume is a little like predicting the weather. Call center managers look at historical volume to estimate future trends. Sometimes these estimates are off. Overstaffing and understaffing are both urgent issues that a manager must be ready to manage.
Of the two, overstaffing is the easiest to address. A savvy call center manager will have other non-urgent tasks ready for idle agents, such as making sales or follow-up calls, training, administrative tasks, or releasing select agents to break. Understaffing is much more stressful. You may consider keeping some agents in on-call status during their days off. With some special equipment, they can be set up at home to jump on the phones and start taking calls as needed.
5. Accurate Reporting. You could be running the best call center in the world, but if your reporting is all wrong, it might look like a disaster. Creating and maintaining valuable and timely reports is an essential function of any thriving call center. This can go wrong in various ways: too many systems and reports jumbled together, human error in collecting data such as noting an incorrect call disposition, or failure to pull reports promptly, to name a few.
If you’re not collaborating with your information technology team, here’s an excellent opportunity to get started. Look for ways to create systems that streamline or automate reporting functions. Consider hiring a dedicated data analyst. Training and clear expectations on reporting will also help set the standard for outcomes and result in mindful data collection.
Life as a call center manager is not easy. It takes specialized knowledge and hard-earned experience to master. When you’re ready to call in the experts, consider outsourcing your call center to professionals like those at Speed Answer.