I am going to show you a few different call center war tactics today. I have succeeded with this simple recipe myself. However it has not always been easy, still the formula is child’s play, and you can easily track and find results needed to guide you to a good conclusion. I will create a fictional scenario as an example.
In this scenario you will have 760 contacts on average. You have 10 employees handling on average 58 contacts. Resulting in an average response of 76,32 %. Customers are not getting a good response in time, and unanswered contacts are building up into a huge pile of “shit you should have done”
Your job is to improve results. What do you do?
The hire solution
This is surprisingly a very common solution. “We have x number of contacts, our staff handles on average y. x/y = number of employees needed. By hiring one more employee, you will have an average of 83,95 %, hire two people and you got 91,58 %, so it is a cost question, are you willing to pay for better customer service?
The pressure solution
There is no budget to hire more staff? You need to get more out of them. If everybody can handle 10 % extra, that would result in 83,95 % and that would be good enough, and we can stay on budget. Guess what? This is a very common solution. The result is higher pressure, less time per customer and a worse customer experience.
It is too easy to contact us, we need to reduce the channels and hide our phone number deep in our website structure. What you are really saying; We do not need information and feedback from our customers, and since you are bothering us with your stupid questions we must make it harder for you to contact us. The effect? The customer will talk to someone else. They will call your sales office about customer service issues. Water will always find another way. If you ever thought of this plan, don’t.
The information highway
“What are your opening hours?”, “Do you have a store near me?”, “I need a copy of my invoice” – This is what I call stupid questions. Not because the questions are stupid, but because you are stupid not to be answering these questions on your webpage or other informational channels. And you do not have automated services where your customers can see and retrieve necessary information. What is your stupid questions ratio? 1 of 10? 2 of 10? Find out and see if you can reduce the 760 contacts to 680? Resulting in 85,3 % handled contacts. You would need more than one extra employee to get this number if you follow the hire solution. With a two year payback period you would have a good amount of money to use on the information highway.
Your average employee handles 58 calls. And the 4 worst performing people gets kicked out and replaced with average performing workers, then you will have and improvement in this scenario from about 76 % to 80 % – The effect might be larger on a bigger call center, or a call center with a bigger span between the best and the worst. It is an expensive solution without any result guarantees, and it takes time. However in some situations this might also be necessary. The effect is small, the costs are large and it takes time to get a win out of it.
You have 760 contacts, why are they contacting you?
5 % because you have too little information available on your website.
12 % of them because your product has an easy to fix flaw.
8 % of your customers are calling to get a status on their already registered issue.
So put the information out there, fix that product/service and work overtime when the other stuff is done to reply faster. And voila you would have 570 contacts on average with a capacity to handle 580. Resulting in you being able to handle a few more high traffic days and catch up again on the slow days. I do not know what the exact challenge you have on your call center, but start with asking why. I am pretty sure that you will be able to find a few easy to fix issues that will reduce your traffic with about 20 %. Another great effect of this approach is that you will reduce stress for your customers, you will create happier customers and save money.
I have personally experienced extreme savings by following this approach. However in reality you might need to combine a lot of these solutions. Maybe you need to fire under achievers. You might need to pressure a little, or improve tools or routines. You might need to hire more people in the end. But do not just look at traffic statistics and roll your dice. Get behind the numbers and start to ask why. You might be looking at as much as a 30 % reduction in traffic with low investments of effort.