How to Manage a Call Center Efficiently
According to Microsoft’s 2017 State of Global Customer Service report, 96% of consumers consider customer service a primary factor in determining which brands win their loyalty. That’s good news for the customer service industry in general.
The sad part is that call centers have earned a notorious reputation throughout the years. Dropped calls, long wait times, rude or inexperienced representatives, getting transferred to the wrong person or department, and repeating the same information over and over again are just some of the reasons for customer frustration.
This, however, is changing for the better. Deloitte’s 2017 Global Contact Center Survey found that contact centers now prioritize customer experience and service improvement over business growth. Many contact centers, according to the study, “now view growth in terms of improving service rather than expanding size.”
Call Centers and the Transportation Industry
In the transportation industry, companies contend with a lot of factors on a daily basis: tight schedules, variable paratransit pickup locations, surging fuel prices, coordination of delivery and arrival times, road hazards, driver turnover, equipment shortages, and a whole lot more. And because transportation clients rely on timely services to serve their own clients (or get to their destinations on schedule), call centers perform a pivotal role in keeping customers happy, resolving issues, and boosting a brand’s reputation.
A call center that’s fit to serve transportation organizations’ interests possesses the following efficiency characteristics:
- Fields reservation requests
- Paratransit ride requests
- Handles and resolves customers’ issues fast
- Resolves an issue the first time a customer calls about it
- Has high satisfaction scores
Call Center Management Techniques
But here’s the thing: Call center efficiency doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s the sum of several moving parts, which means there are many ways to either improve or ruin it because of the many processes involved. To more effectively manage your call center and to ensure you’re delivering the best possible customer service every time, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Hiring and Onboarding
We all know that employees are the backbone of an organization, and making sure you’re hiring the best people for the job is crucial to call center success. The best call center employees have a natural talent for customer service, possess good communication and listening skills, and have a gift of enthusiasm. It’s vital, therefore, that hiring managers screen not just for technical competencies but attitude as well. Enthusiasm, for one, is difficult to teach.
Of course, hiring mistakes happen. The onboarding process is where you correct them by emphasizing good habits, such as regarding customer complaints as an opportunity to provide excellent service instead of roadblocks and communicating your company’s dedication to the highest standards.
Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, is said to have said: “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.” This couldn’t be truer in a high-stress work setting like the call center. Stress can negatively impact agent productivity, even retention rates, and proper scheduling can greatly reduce performance inadequacies resulting from fatigue.
Transit call centers constantly field reservation requests. Run through scenarios with your team where they ask clear and concise questions for callers who have a difficult time communicating details. Paratransit riders with cognitive disabilities often have a hard time coordinating so they have friends and family members assist them. Nailing down specifics is imperative in these cases. In addition, call centers receive customer complaints all the time. Training agents on how to handle complaints–and other call types, for that matter–will empower employees to do the right thing, which, in turn, creates happier employees. We all know what happy employees do: they create happy customers.
Listening to complaints for the most part of every day–and even absorbing insults and abusive language, in some cases–can take its toll on even the most enthusiastic of employees. Employee engagement activities, such as team building or even frequent one-on-one conversations with your staff, will help re-energize them and minimize employee churn.
Feedback and Suggestions
If you want to improve customers’ experience with your call center, the best employees to provide feedback are your client-facing employees. They have first-hand experience, are aware of the processes more than anyone in the company, are more likely to know where the bottlenecks are, and possibly even how to fix them.
Plus, regularly communicating with your employees and asking for their input will make them feel valued and appreciated, and instrumental in the company’s success.
Rewards and Recognition
Recognize your employees’ hard work through an incentive program that aligns with your company’s overall goals. Some employees prefer monetary gifts, but non-monetary rewards can boost agent performance, too, such as:
- Flexible hours
- Opportunities for training and professional development
- Improvements to current health (or retirement) program
- Formal/informal recognition events
- Leadership opportunities
- Handwritten letter from the CEO or management team
Workplace conflict cannot be avoided, and ignoring them in the hope that they’ll go away on their own is a bad way to handle them. Good managers get to know their employees. This way, they recognize which people to put together in a team and who to keep separate to avoid friction. They listen and keep their focus on events and behavior instead of personalities.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone
Running a transit company is not easy. Efficiently running a transit company while keeping customers happy is definitely not child’s play. However, it can be done. And with experienced and knowledgeable companies like National Express Transit to handle transit call center management on your behalf, you can focus on doing what you do best: transporting people and goods from point A to point B safely and on time.
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