The efficiency and user-friendliness of a call center can directly impact a business’s customer acquisition and retention, especially in the age of social media where a company’s perceived approachability is a key part of its brand. Managers in call centers need to ensure that their employees are operating as well as they can. Following are five strategies for cultivating excellent customer service.
1. Make data available to call center employees.
Without good data, neither employees nor managers know where to focus their efforts for the greatest impact. If data is only accessible to employees through their managers, it limits that data’s actionability. Call centers need to do more than define and track key metrics; those metrics need to be visualized and made available to employees on-demand.
Some call centers may elect to publish visuals such as leaderboards, whereas others find that a more confidential approach – such as individual dashboards – work best in their office environments. Whichever way data accessibility is implemented, employees need to be trained on how to interpret their own performance, and empowered to do what’s necessary to improve it.
2. Keep interventions private.
Whether or not performance data is public, communication between employees and managers aimed toward improving performance should be confidential – unless that communication has broad applicability, and is anonymized. Call center employment is a high-stress job, and employees may frequently deal with criticism from the customer side. Public criticism can damage employee morale and trust.
3. Use anecdotes.
Data is a powerful tool, but anecdotes have mental and emotional sticking power. When evaluating employees, refer to specific incidents where the employee’s performance was poor – or was especially good. Use these anecdotes to illustrate larger data trends, or trends for which there is no appropriate metric to reference.
4. Recognize the good.
There are two strategies to improve performance: strengthen weak skills, and refine strong skills. Both strategies should be leveraged in order to create employees who are not only well-rounded but are also outstanding in their respective skills. Managers should bring up an employee’s exemplary skills during reviews, and not just focus on areas of improvement.
Depending on the call center’s workflow, it may also be possible to use outstanding skills to improve the center’s overall effectiveness. For example, if some employees are recognized for their skill in dealing with difficult customers, other employees may be empowered to transfer customers to them. Other employees may display exceptional skills in areas such as solving difficult technical challenges, completing sales, or retaining customer loyalty, and could be assigned calls accordingly.
5. Empower employees to self-assess.
Employees who feel some ownership over their own performance are likely to be more engaged in improving it. Self-assessment can also highlight an employee’s own concerns, and open up a path for collaboration between employees and call center managers. Managers should be prepared to validate an employee’s feedback, and work with them to resolve any concerns.
Call centers can be a powerful asset for businesses, but only if employees know how to deal with calls effectively. When managers and employees are both empowered to use performance interventions that work, the end result is a smoother relationship between business and consumer – and that’s worth working toward.