How to Improve Call Center Productivity

Call centers can range in size from a few agents to several hundred.
Call centers can range in size from a few agents to several hundred. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

As telecommunications technology has evolved, telephone call centers continue to become more prevalent in many fields of business. Some popular uses of a telephone call center include customer service, marketing and promotions, customer surveys, sales, employee support and technical support. In each of these fields, telephone call centers provide a cost-effective way to handle a variety of business functions. While each type of call center can benefit from specialized performance-improving techniques, some strategies can be applied to nearly any type of call center to improve productivity.

Things You'll Need

  • Call center performance benchmarks or goals
  • Call center statistics for previous months
  • Current call flow or processing layout
  • Call center equipment programming manuals

Read and analyze call center goals and benchmarks to gain an understanding of its purpose and function within the business. Understanding these elements is key to determining the best methods to improve productivity and will help identify a course of action.

Review call center agent training and evaluation. Call center agents should have a thorough understanding of their job function and the services they provide to callers. If necessary, implement agent retraining or continuing education on proper call processing and escalation procedures. Agents should also understand the basic technical aspects of the call center to improve system interaction. This knowledge will speed call processing, reduce errors and improve overall call center productivity.

Review and test call center processing equipment for proper operation. Most modern call centers utilize one or more call processing technologies, such as Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), Integrated Voice Response (IVR), Speech Recognition (VRU) or voice-Internet integration. The technical operation of each module should be reviewed for proper programming and tested to ensure calls are being processed correctly. Make programming changes to improve efficiency of call center technology.

Implement an Internet-based companion module to the telephone call center system. This module could provide answers to commonly asked questions or problems, provide software upgrades or downloads, or allow callers to schedule a callback request for an agent. This technique can improve call center productivity and reduce call workload.

Audit calls to evaluate how they are being handled by the agent. Evaluate delays in call processing or mishandled calls due to human errors, improper call processing or a lack of agent knowledge. Reducing unnecessary steps or correcting improper processes can help improve call center productivity by reducing call time length and increasing the overall number of processed calls.

Consider outsourcing some or all of the call center traffic. Utilizing an outside call center to handle overflow calls during peak traffic times, process all traffic during off-peak periods or process specific types of calls or functions can improve the overall productivity and performance of a call center.

Work to reduce call center agent attrition. Set up regular agent reviews and opportunities for the agents to offer feedback or suggestions on their jobs. The time and cost required to recruit, hire and train new call center agents is detrimental to overall call center productivity and profitability.

Tips & Warnings

  • Regular call center agent training will help improve agent productivity.
  • Test all technical changes prior to putting them into service.
  • Don't implement changes without proper testing and training.

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