25 call center strategies to be more efficient, realize call center cost savings, and serve the customer better in the contact/call center
Whether you operate a call center or a full-service contact center, F. Curtis Barry & Company's call center strategies will help you reduce contact center cost and improve contact center profitability. We have successfully assisted our clients' contact centers by increasing productivity of personnel; applying technology for scheduling, email management, IVR and training; devising call center strategy recommendations tailored to the unique needs of the business; improving customer service for serving online customers; and selecting and evaluating order management systems. Some of our multichannel contact center clients include Appleseed’s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Day-Timers, Blair, Hanna Andersson, Haband, and Norm Thompson.
1. Perform post season audit
Determine what went really well, what needed a band aid to get accomplished and what were severe problems. Operational assessment of metrics, productivity, service levels, attrition, revenue generation and process improvements which should be considered.
Set up internal benchmarks to reduce your cost per order, cost per call, cost per contact and cost per transaction. Translate these down to department and individual work standards. Contact us if we can help you with an independent internal benchmarking study for your contact center.
3. Staffing models - full time/part time/flex
Labor is your single biggest expense in the call center. Take a good look at your current staffing ratio. Full time, if not kept productive, may be costly. Change the mix of full time, part time and flex time staff.
4. Attrition (turnover)
Studies show that attrition costs $3,000 to $10,000 in recruiting, training and initial on the job investment to bring a new person on board. Many contact centers average 40% to 50% or higher. Review the reasons why attrition is so high and put a plan together to reduce it.
Domestic, off shore or near shore for phone, email, mail orders and other documents, etc. So many choices for so many options, you really need to have assistance—but you can save money! Investigate and implement it without sacrificing your quality, customer service or your revenue.
Review your training plans and make sure the agents are trained in training sessions, not On the Job Training! This will create shorter “ramp up” times for new hires. A solid, well thought out training plan will pay great dividends and improve customer service. Keep it all consistent to keep the knowledge levels high.
7. Measure by interval and not the day
This will create a need to stay focused and find efficiencies in scheduling and processes. You cannot make it up later in the day; if you missed one interval you lost money, either with labor or sales.
8. Use QA to drive out unneeded processes
If you are not, then you should conduct a review of your processes from a Quality Review point of view. Make sure your Quality Team has three MAIN constituencies in mind as they do their jobs…#1, first and foremost, the paying customer; #2, the company; and #3, the supervisors and the agents for training and coaching. Now make sure that there are not other items the agents do that don’t support these efforts.
If you are suffering during scheduling intervals, make sure your personnel are in the seats at the right time.
Manage this gingerly. If done correctly you will run a well oiled machine. If you miss, you will hemorrhage money. Scheduling is the key to maintaining optimal occupancy rates.
11. Workforce software
Many companies are still using Excel for their staffing software. Excel cannot save you as much money year over year as a good workforce program. Team up with Fulfillment Center to share the system. It will pay for itself quickly. If you have one, understand how to use it to its maximum.
12. Service level review
Are you at the right service level for your customers’ needs? Or are you following a standard that is too high? If so, you are spending a great deal of extra money which may not be necessary.
Review your supervisor-to-agent ratio. Are you overstaffed with supervisors or understaffed with supervisors?
14. Speech recognition (VRU)
To some, Speech Recognition is an evil word. But many companies have used it selectively to save a great deal of money. You can, if engineered correctly and your expectations are realistic.
15. Interactive voice response
Are you using it to the best advantage? Contact centers use IVR systems to identify and segment callers (orders versus customer service). This allows the call center to tailor services according to the customer request.
16. Telecomm audit
Make sure you are not paying for services, numbers or locations that you don’t have any longer. You could be spending a great deal more than you need. It is estimated that over 50% of all corporate telephone bills have errors.
17. Call flow review / prompts
Too many branches or prompts will confuse and irritate the customer and cost you telecom charges. Keep it simple; the customer will love you and you can get call types other ways for reporting.
18. Home agents
Add flexibility to your staffing model and reduce the call center’s occupancy costs. Understand what the legal ramifications, supervision, home office work environment and technology aspects are. Your business can experience a call center cost reduction and have happy employees
19. Shared labor
Need help with peak labor? Some companies have found a partner that is contra-seasonal within or outside your niche. This allows you to manage the peaks, reduce start up training expenses and you may be able to barter for time (minutes used).
20. Using an agency for peaks
If you just can’t staff for the peak, seek out a good temporary agency. Contact centers make good use of them, managing like you would your own staff.
21. Email management software
Get onboard with an ASP and start saving on your labor with email and chat functions. It is a win for the customer and a win for you.
22. Cross selling/up-selling
Remember your agents are the eyes and ears to your customers in most cases, so make them your best sales force. More companies need to look at this as a way to increase average order. Will you use incentives to achieve higher results? Your agents can do it effectively and not be offensive to the customer.
23. Analyze call reasons, drive out unneeded call drivers
Understand why the customers are calling. You might have found an area that needs to be reengineered.
24. Chat with the customer to secure the sale / drive down calls
If you can engage the customer on the website you should be able to sell them or close the sale for them with chat. Don’t let the shopping cart go empty.
25. Use KPI’s to meet your goals and keep an eye on expenses
If you focus on the right things you will know where your money is going every day, week or month. Measure what is important and keep an eye on it.
Our team is focused on contact center & call center cost reduction and improvement.
Evaluating your current call center strategy can lead to new ideas on how to reduce call center costs in order to have actual, measurable call center cost savings. Don't just guess at what changes should be implemented. Call us at (804) 740-8743 to discuss how we can help your organization make the smart next move.