Improve your Call Center Performance (and Sales!) with These 3 Ideas

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By Sue Brady

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou manage your marketing budget well to drive as many calls as you can to your call centers. You rely on your centers to answer those calls and close the sales. If you manage an inbound call center, you know about the inherent challenges. It’s not easy work, but there are some things you can do to make your call centers more productive: Training, call routing and competition will help you achieve sustained improvement to your call center performance.

1. Training.
You probably trained all of your call center agents when your latest program started up. But when is the last time you re-trained them? Call center attrition is high in most call centers, and while it’s likely you have trained the trainers, it’s important for you, as ‘the client,’ to get in there and retrain from time to time. Don’t rely on the call center to do it all for you. New agents on your program will benefit from your first-hand knowledge. And existing agents will also benefit. I’ve yet to see an example of a client physically re-training agents that didn’t result in a bump in performance. It’s motivational to have you there, but it also ensures the training is still relevant and that you are aware of new questions that agents might be asking. The longer a program runs in a center, the more information you learn from them to help you improve.

2. Call Routing.
There are a number of technologies that provide intelligent call routing, and a number of ways you can set it up. One way is to rate your agents based on your key performance indicators and route calls to those agents whenever possible. Some companies monitor this daily, and when they see an agent is having a particularly good day, that agent will receive more calls. Another way to route calls is to identify your better performing area codes or zip codes and when those calls come in, make sure they are answered first (and preferably by your best agents). Or, you can identify your better performing media and give those calls preference.

3. Competition.Runner
Competition is healthy and keeps the players focused to do their best. Competition between agents is important, but so is competition between centers. For agents, having a ‘leader board’ is motivational as is the old-fashioned bell ringing when someone makes a sale. Awards, monetary bonuses and public recognition can all motivate your agents.

If you have the volume to support it, there are multiple benefits to having more than one center answering your calls. First of all, if there is an issue at one call center, such as weather, God forbid a bomb scare, or even a technology failure, you have another center to allow at least some of your calls to be handled. Secondly, there is great and healthy competition created when you run call centers against each other. Each call center has to be able to see performance numbers for the others, and without a doubt, call center A will want to outperform call center B and visa versa.

What are some of your ideas?

Top Six 2014 Digital Marketing Predictions

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By Sue Brady

bigdata_2013

The New Year is sure to bring more change that will surprise and delight us users. Here’s my stab at six things I think will happen.

  1. The use of mobile customer service tools in call centers will explode. Cloud services in the call center environment has seen rapid adoption over the last couple of years, and that paves the way for the use of innovative customer service solutions. According to Frost and Sullivan, there were a dozen or so mergers/acquisitions in 2013 that pave the way for this development. Adopted tools will include more Siri-like services, and will also include location-specific help (‘I’m on 4th and Main. Where’s your closest service center?’).
  2. Snapchat will live to regret its Facebook $3 billion cash offer turndown. As it turns out, it’s also rumored that the CEO turned down an offer from Google valued at $4 billion. They will entertain offers but won’t get another one quite as sweet. Sure, the CEO is a young kid from a privileged background who may not care too much about wealth, but he turned down what sounded like a great deal, and you can be sure his investors care about wealth (as do his employees!).
  3. Google+ will continue to report high usage numbers, but will under-perform in all aspects of social engagement and lead generation in both B2B and B2C, except with helping SEO rankings on Google in general.
  4. Big data will continue to confound, but prove to be a goldmine for those who know how to use it. In order to handle big data, companies must understand their goals as well as have tools in place to do something with the data they collect. As more and more companies work out creative and impactful ways to use their data, their methodologies will be copied by others and using data will take on even more prominence. According to a CompTIA study of IT executives, 55% think data is critically important now, and 62% think it will be critically important in 2014. In the same study, they found that 8 in 10 execs agree/agree strongly to the statement: “if we could harness all of our data, we would be a much stronger business.”
  5. There will be a large merger between two existing social media platforms. This may be someone like slideshare merging with a video platform to enhance the one that they have or perhaps Pinterest doing the same. Short video is hot and gaining adoption. Look at the rise of Vine. It was founded in June, 2012 and has over 40 million users (now in 19 languages!). Plus there are newer players like Instagram Video (launched in June, 2013 to the 150 million Instagram users) and videos on Snapchat (launched video in February, 2013 to its 26 million users). Or perhaps this merger will in fact be a purchase of Snapchat by a new buyer.
  6. Attribution tools will take a huge leap forward because brands will adopt usage in increasingly great numbers. As more tools are developed that make attribution easier (read about that here) it makes sense that more companies will use them. And, adoption will happen because it’s the best way to value the ROI on multiple marketing touches.

What are your digital marketing predictions for 2014?