There was a time when working as a call centre agent was just a job to make ends meet. It didn’t require a lot of skill, or commitment. Things have, thankfully changed, as customers are becoming less tolerant of poor attitudes or incompetence.
We’ve become quite good at building and running call centres, but technology and staff are two aspects that remain undernourished. Ironically, those are precisely the elements that will take a call centre from mediocre to great.
Reputable operations to the fore
While there are still fly-by-night call centre operators running on systems built from chewing gum and string, with agent management based on the lash and fear, the reputable operations have cracked most of the technical and management issues of running and managing a large group of agents to a tight client brief.
With the advent of hosted technology, small and medium operations can now use the latest telephony and call management technology…but they should not overlook the importance of their staff.
70% of call centre costs are your people – the agents and their managers. If they’re unmotivated, unmanaged, unfriendly and unhelpful, the call centre suffers. Bad agents equal unsatisfied customers.
Technology has to empower call centre staff to be better at their jobs. The industry has grown and the staff it needs to retain more demanding.
We need to hire agents that are capable, professional, reliable, sensible, hard-working and committed. They want to work in a facility where their workday is pleasant and they aren’t forced to use terrible technology that makes them (and the customers they’re trying to serve) miserable – such as poor voice quality or dropped calls,. They know how angry an already irritable customer gets when they have to repeat their account number for the fourth time. They know that having the previous call history available will allow them to be more effective. They’re going to go work for a call centre operator that can allow them to do their jobs. They want to know that they have the right tools.
They also want to know that management has put performance monitoring tools in place so as to reward the staff that are actually doing a good job.
Well-managed agents with good technology tools, comprehensive training and hands-on experience (not to mention, the right attitude) will find a way to help customers, because that is what gives them job satisfaction.
If call centres can get rid of the “seat-warmers” with poor attitudes and equip their good staff with the right technology to get the job done, and gain credit for their performance, they will be able to sit back and watch customer satisfaction soar.