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How To Tackle 7 Common Contact Center Issues

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Most businesses are entering 2021 with unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. As customer interactions become increasingly digital, the demand for efficient customer service experiences is growing. Common contact center issues are amplified and businesses need to be proactive in tackling them sooner, rather than later. In order to thrive in a  COVID-19 context, businesses need to step up their game. 

Customer support is the experience you provide to consumers at every point of contact. Investing in your contact centre and in your support team has an immediate impact on various aspects of your business, from loyalty to retention and acquisition. Here are 7 challenges most call centers face and tips on how to manage them. 

 

How can you scale up volume hiring at the contact center?

While many industries are having to slow down in response to the COVID-19 crisis, call centers are expanding. In fact, “the global call center market that includes contact centers, multimedia access centers, and customer interaction centers is predicted to peak at $481 billion by 2024, propelled by the need for businesses to deliver customer-focused services.” It has never been more important to provide great experiences over the phone, through email, or on social media.

Nowadays, the majority of the companies try to provide solutions that lead customers to self-solve issues either via the company website or apps.  However, as businesses embrace this digitization, skilled customer service workers provide a human touch that is crucial in maintaining positive customer relations. More importantly, the move to digitization increases the demand for contact center representatives to manage complicated issues that customers can’t self-resolve. This means that high volume hiring can range from hundreds to thousands of agents in a given period.

High volume hiring requires you to be where your target talent is. Job aggregators like Indeed and social media channels like Linkedin are common stomping grounds for avid job-seekers, so build a strong presence and easy application process. To expand your talent pool even more, revisit your existing talent database. Past applicants, and in particular past interviewees, who didn’t make the cut last time might be great fits today. Job-seekers are constantly growing, upskilling, and gaining experience, so future contact center agents might be right under your nose. Once you have a pool of potential talent, the next step is to screen for the right fit. 

 

How can you quickly screen applicants for the right skill set?

Scaling up quickly requires you to narrow down your talent pool efficiently. This can be a challenge for employers. Ineffective applicant screening can lead to increased turnover, costly training sessions, and company restructuring. In the worst case, hiring the wrong people can damage your brand. A whopping 89% of consumers would “begin doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.” With such fragile customer loyalty, it is more important for employees to deliver the right brand voice. 

To begin screening, you need to define what skills you’re looking for. This could be language fluency, industry-specific experience, seniority, and even soft skills. Having a strong grasp of the ideal talent profile will allow you to begin searching for the right resume-screening and skills-assessment tools. AI-powered tools can help talent acquisition teams shortlist candidates based on specific keywords and questions. Skills assessment tools, like the one developed by Learning Branch, can test for spoken English, written chat skills, and soft skills such as active listening, empathy, and confidence. The AI automation tool not only helps you screen the right talent efficiently but also increases the speed to proficiency.

 

How does pre-employment assessment data improve performance?

Collecting and analyzing data to drive call center performance is a common industry practice. However, many businesses overlook the importance of pre-hire assessment results to optimize their contact center teams, which directly improves performance and experience. Not only do these metrics provide insights into the talents being hired, but they also provide guidelines for onboarding, training, and upskilling to make the most of each agent’s potential. 

Once you have identified the gaps in your customer support strategy, pre-employment testing will help you close those gaps. For example, if your contact center is increasing the use of email, hiring talent with strong written language skills is essential. Testing also tells you where your candidates rank for different competencies. Additionally, the actionable information, helps you tailor your training and development program. You can thus provide your new hires with the knowledge they need to deliver excellent customer support. The use of assessment tools that test these written skills basis on-the-job scenarios is the need of the hour. They help you filter the new hires that would perform on the job from day zero. Also, it makes it easier for global companies to maintain service uniformity across various divisions.

Additionally, pre-employment assessments can help you eliminate the unconscious bias of making decisions based on a “gut feeling”. Unfortunately, hiring professionals are likely to make snap decisions about potential candidates within 5 minutes of meeting them. Even though it is a subconscious response, it can filter out highly qualified talent. Emotional decisions based on first impressions have little positive impact in the workplace. In fact, about one-third of new hires quit within the first six months. Data-backed hiring decisions are much more likely to result in smart choices that increase performance and retention. 

 

How can you improve first call resolution?

First call resolution metrics reflect a call center agent’s ability to solve an issue in the first interaction with the customer. A higher first call resolution rate indicates that a customer support team is well-trained, efficient, and understands the business. Knowing the right answer immediately results in shorter calls and fewer follow-ups with the customer. This leads to improved customer experience and increased overall customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, many agents struggle with finding the right solution within the first call. This can be due to lack of experience in the industry, lack of training, or lack of upskilling opportunities.

According to Freshdesk, “customer service agents fail to answer questions 50% of the time.” An easy-to-implement solution is to upgrade your call center knowledge base. A centralized help center for your agents can optimize workflow and ensure correct information is being shared. The knowledge base should contain all essential information about your products and services, and common questions and issues that customers may experience. In addition, training your agents to quickly navigate the knowledge base can further cut down on-call time and improve first call resolution. Consider having regular team meetings to discuss key updates and get feedback from your agents about missing information. 

Along with a knowledge base, improving on essential soft skills also facilitates first call resolution. Although it’s crucial to test for soft skills before hiring your team, continuous training and development help agents keep their skills sharp and empower them to grow professionally. Communication and language skills, along with related active listening and empathy skills, goes a long way in resolving customer issues within the first call.

 

How can you drive customer satisfaction?

Customer support teams are often the face of an organization, especially as digitization becomes increasingly necessary. This means that contact center agents have the power and the responsibility to increase customer satisfaction, improve engagement, and elevate your brand. By equipping agents with the right tools and knowledge to not only solve customer issues but to do it in a way that benefits the customer whenever possible, businesses can guarantee positive experiences with each interaction. 

Improving experience is often a two-step process. Before implementing solutions, you need to measure customer satisfaction. Data from CSAT scores, as well as results from key performance indicators, provide guidelines for changes or improvement that will directly impact satisfaction. Next, you need to empower call center agents to drive these changes through training and upskilling opportunities. 

As the contact center landscape changes, it’s also essential for businesses to be where their customers are. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020 “high performing teams are twice as likely to use an omnichannel solution that combines support, self-service, chat, or phone.” This means identifying your audiences and building your customer service presence based on the channels they use most.

 

How can you help contact center agents retain information well?

Contact center agents can find themselves in any number of industries. Often, they will have experience in several different sectors. This means that learning the in and outs of each new business is crucial in becoming an expert customer service provider. Organizations can take essential steps to prepare new agents to tackle the specific issues impacting their business while planning to provide additional training and support throughout their tenure at the company. 

Contact centre agents should be equipped with the right resources, from customer issue management tools to a thorough knowledge library. Making information easily searchable not only prepares agents to resolve issues quickly and effectively, but also encourages active learning. By having these tools readily available, customer support agents are empowered to develop their skills and learn more about the company. Regular upskilling opportunities through knowledge audits and assessments are also beneficial. They ensure that all agents have the skills required to deliver great customer service. 

For contact center agents to know the business, they need to feel included. Call centers are one of the industries with the highest churn rates. “In fact, the International Customer Management Institute pegs the average call center turnover rate at 33%.” This means that a focus on employee retention needs to be an essential part of your customer satisfaction strategy. An onboarding program that teaches agents about the business should be followed up with regular team-building and skill-building opportunities. While team-building encourages call center agents to be a team player, skill-building empowers them to be committed brand advocates. 

 

How can you boost contact center performance?

There’s no question that improving performance is an ongoing challenge for call centers. With issues like high turnover, new product and service launches, and unpredictable economic concerns, call center leaders must constantly work to boost performance through long term strategy.  Often, this means investing in your agents. As the primary drivers of performance, call centers agents require frequent upskilling opportunities to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, regular team-building experiences are beneficial to enhance committed to the employer.

Empowering your employees begins with management. Many leaders tend to rely on micromanaging, especially when dealing with the high-volume hiring of new employees. However, this can backfire. Lack of autonomy can prevent agents from developing their skills and solving customer concerns with confidence. Instead, managers should trust that well-trained employees can work effectively while providing support when needed. Empowered and autonomous employees are “often more capable of effectively addressing customers’ needs by being flexible, responsive and personal.

Contact centers are part of a dynamic industry. They need to upgrade and adapt to the shifting needs of customers in an increasingly digital world. Despite facing serious challenges in the past year, call centers are growing, and investing in great employees has never been more important. Effective employee screening and testing, followed by smart training and development, and continuous growth opportunities will help businesses build customer support teams that can take their company to the next level.

 

 

How can you improve first call resolution?

First call resolution metrics reflect a call center agent’s ability to solve an issue in the first interaction with the customer. A higher first call resolution rate indicates that a customer support team is well-trained, efficient, and understands the business. Knowing the right answer immediately results in shorter calls and fewer follow-ups with the customer. This leads to improved customer experience and increased overall customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, many agents struggle with finding the right solution within the first call. This can be due to lack of experience in the industry, lack of training, or lack of upskilling opportunities.

According to Freshdesk, “customer service agents fail to answer questions 50% of the time.” An easy-to-implement solution is to upgrade your call center knowledge base. A centralized help center for your agents can optimize workflow and ensure correct information is being shared. The knowledge base should contain all essential information about your products and services, and common questions and issues that customers may experience. In addition, training your agents to quickly navigate the knowledge base can further cut down on-call time and improve first call resolution. Consider having regular team meetings to discuss key updates and get feedback from your agents about missing information. 

Along with a knowledge base, improving on essential soft skills also facilitates first call resolution. Although it’s crucial to test for soft skills before hiring your team, continuous training and development help agents keep their skills sharp and empower them to grow professionally. Communication and language skills, along with related active listening and empathy skills, goes a long way in resolving customer issues within the first call.

 

How can you drive customer satisfaction?

Customer support teams are often the face of an organization, especially as digitization becomes increasingly necessary. This means that contact center agents have the power and the responsibility to increase customer satisfaction, improve engagement, and elevate your brand. By equipping agents with the right tools and knowledge to not only solve customer issues but to do it in a way that benefits the customer whenever possible, businesses can guarantee positive experiences with each interaction. 

Improving experience is often a two-step process. Before implementing solutions, you need to measure customer satisfaction. Data from CSAT scores, as well as results from key performance indicators, provide guidelines for changes or improvement that will directly impact satisfaction. Next, you need to empower call center agents to drive these changes through training and upskilling opportunities. 

As the contact center landscape changes, it’s also essential for businesses to be where their customers are. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020 “high performing teams are twice as likely to use an omnichannel solution that combines support, self-service, chat, or phone.” This means identifying your audiences and building your customer service presence based on the channels they use most.

 

How can you help contact center agents retain information well?

Contact center agents can find themselves in any number of industries. Often, they will have experience in several different sectors. This means that learning the in and outs of each new business is crucial in becoming an expert customer service provider. While organizations plan to provide additional training and support throughout to agents during their tenure at the company. They hould take essential steps to prepare new agents to tackle the specific issues impacting their business.

Contact centre agents should be equipped with the right resources, from customer issue management tools to a thorough knowledge library. Making information easily searchable not only prepares agents to resolve issues quickly and effectively, but also encourages active learning. By having these tools readily available, customer support agents are empowered to develop their skills and learn more about the company. Regular upskilling opportunities through knowledge audits and assessments are also beneficial. They ensure that all agents have the skills required to deliver great customer service. 

For contact center agents to know the business, they need to feel included. Call centers are one of the industries with the highest churn rates. “In fact, the International Customer Management Institute pegs the average call center turnover rate at 33%.” This means that a focus on employee retention needs to be an essential part of your customer satisfaction strategy. An onboarding program that teaches agents about the business should be followed up with regular team-building and skill-building opportunities. While team-building encourages call center agents to be a team player, skill-building empowers them to be committed brand advocates. 

 

How can you boost contact center performance?

There’s no question that improving performance is an ongoing challenge for call centers. Issues like high turnover, new product and service launches, and unpredictable economic concerns constantly hover us. Call center leaders must constantly work to boost performance through long term strategy.  Often, this means investing in your agents. As the primary drivers of performance, call centers agents require frequent upskilling opportunities to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, regular team-building experiences are beneficial to enhance committed to the employer.

Empowering your employees begins with management. Many leaders tend to rely on micromanaging, especially when dealing with the high-volume hiring of new employees. However, this can backfire. Lack of autonomy can prevent agents from developing their skills and solving customer concerns with confidence. Instead, managers should trust that well-trained employees can work effectively while providing support when needed. Empowered and autonomous employees are “often more capable of effectively addressing customers’ needs by being flexible, responsive and personal.

Contact centers are part of a dynamic industry. They need to upgrade and adapt to the shifting needs of customers in an increasingly digital world. Despite facing serious challenges in the past year, call centers are growing, and investing in great employees has never been more important. Effective employee screening and testing, followed by smart training and development, and continuous growth opportunities will help businesses build customer support teams that can take their company to the next level

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. 

But they do expect you to fix things when they go wrong”

— Donald Porter

Let us help you serve your customers better.

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