Build the Best Call Center Optimization Workflow in 10 Steps

    As customer expectations continue to rise, and the importance of delivering top-notch customer experiences comes into sharper focus, optimizing your call center workflows has become an absolute necessity.

    Cost-efficiency is more than just a buzzword; it's vital to your call center's survival. With growing call volumes becoming the norm, finding ways to boost efficiency while maintaining—or improving—quality is crucial.

    Employee wellbeing is on the agenda, too, with concerns about agent burnout prompting an urgent need for better working procedures.

    In this article, we’ll discuss ten crucial steps that you can take to build the best contact center optimization workflow, from identifying pain points and optimizing call routing, to embracing QA software and defining KPIs.

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    #1. Assess your current contact center performance

    Making a contact center optimization workflow plan starts with a critical yet constructive assessment of its current state. Key performance indicators (KPIs) help you gather valuable insights into how your contact center is performing, so you can see what areas need improvement.

    Some of the most important KPIs to track are:

    • First call resolution (FCR) rate: This metric measures the percentage of customer issues or inquiries resolved during the first interaction without needing a follow-up call or contact. 
    • Average handling time (AHT): This calculates the average duration of a single customer interaction, including talk time, hold time, and the time spent on related tasks after the call ends (like updating customer records). It's a crucial measure of efficiency and productivity in a call center.
    • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): This measures customer satisfaction with a company's products, services, or experiences. It's usually obtained through customer surveys asking how satisfied the customer was with their interaction, often on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10.
    • Schedule adherence: This metric refers to how closely call center agents adhere to their assigned schedules. It measures the percentage of time agents are available to handle calls against their scheduled working hours.
    • Call abandonment rate: This measures the percentage of inbound calls terminated by the caller before they are connected to an agent. A high call abandonment rate can indicate several issues, such as long wait times, insufficient staffing, or inefficient call routing.

    In addition to tracking KPIs, you’ll want to use the best tools available to ensure optimal performance. Integrating robust quality assurance software can help transform raw, unstructured data into informative KPIs and actionable information.

    Call monitoring systems allow you to capture agent-customer conversations for review, while customer feedback surveys will offer more information about your overall performance.

    And don’t forget to implement reporting and analytics tools, so you can paint a full picture of your contact center and get a better overview of your operation.

    #2. Identify pain points and bottlenecks

    Each contact center has unique challenges stemming from high call volumes, excessive wait times, inefficient routing, high agent attrition rates, and more. These challenges can all have a massive impact on your business and customer satisfaction. Regardless of how common these issues may be across call centers, that doesn’t mean they’re unsolvable.

    Using methods to identify these issues and their causes can significantly affect your operations. Spending time on root cause analysis can help pinpoint any restrictive bottlenecks and operational inefficiencies within your workflows.

    You should also consider collecting feedback from your customers and your call center agents, as they can provide insights that are hard to gather from numbers alone. They often voice what data alone may miss and highlight challenges and pain points from both perspectives.

    #3. Implement technological solutions

    Embracing technology is pivotal in your call center optimization workflow. One of the most significant steps you can take is to adopt quality assurance software to help manage, track, and grow your call center all across the board. When exploring options, compare cloud-based solutions with on-premises setups. Cloud solutions offer scalability and flexibility, while on-premises provide more control and security.

    When evaluating QA software, you should look for common features that bring the biggest impact. Integrating customer relationship management (CRM) software, interactive voice response (IVR) software, agent dashboards, and reporting capabilities can completely overhaul your contact center's operations. They’re crucial for seamless data flow, insightful reporting, and enhancing the decision-making process.

    Additionally, leveraging the power of AI and chatbots can expand your company’s reach and reduce your agents' workload. They can significantly increase efficiency by handling routine inquiries and freeing up your agents to work on more complex issues. This means your customers can get faster, simple help when needed, and those who require more attention will always have a real human there to help.

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    #4. Prioritize agent training and development

    Stellar call center performance is driven by competent, confident agents. Emphasizing ongoing training and development equips them with essential skills and fosters a positive work environment. Along with technical training, inspire them to polish their soft skills, including empathy and active listening, which are crucial for exceptional customer engagement.

    Additionally, part of your overall training for your agents should include system knowledge and proficiency with the tools and services your agents will use in their day-to-day work. This allows them to work more comfortably and efficiently with all the tools at their disposal.

    Consider offering stress management and employee wellbeing programs to safeguard your agents from issues like employee burnout and agent attrition.  A healthy, motivated workforce delivers unparalleled customer service. Spice things up with gamification—turning training into a fun, competitive activity can yield surprising morale and productivity boosts.

    #5. Optimize your call routing and queuing

    An essential pillar of your call center's optimization strategy is the adoption of intelligent routing techniques. Aim to enhance customer experience and diminish abandonment rates by reducing wait times. Consider:

    • Skill-based routing directing callers to the most capable agents
    • Geographic routing guiding international callers to agents familiar with their region
    • IVRs offer self-service options for straightforward queries

    Additionally, consider using predictive dialing to proactively manage outbound calls and integrate self-service options like chatbots to free up your agents for more involved tasks.

    Mixing in predictive analytics can help teams appropriately anticipate call volumes, staff agents when needed, and reallocate resources. You can also take advantage of real-time data to dynamically adjust schedules and reallocate resources to help keep your contact center flexible and prepared for sudden shifts.

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    #6. Enhance omnichannel support

    Your contact center’s success depends on providing a consistent, accessible customer experience across multiple platforms. To deliver that, you’ll need to fully understand the customer journey and all the points of contact they can access.

    Identify the interactions that matter through calls, emails, live chat, or social media. Recognizing these critical touchpoints allows you to prioritize and allocate resources effectively to these avenues.

    Ideally, you’ll also want to incorporate all communication channels your customers value most and offer a consistent experience. Whether a customer sends a tweet, starts a chat, or opts for an email, their experience should feel interconnected and frictionless.

    Avoid the frustration of having your customers repeat information by ensuring all channels can contribute to a single shared resource, such as your QA software or CRM. This will give your agents the information they need to offer fast and personalized support.

    #7. Embrace quality assurance and monitoring

    Embracing quality assurance is key—you can’t provide excellent services without monitoring and improving. This involves monitoring across all support channels and delivering consistent omnichannel support, as noted above.

    You can also choose between real-time monitoring or post-interaction evaluations to help improve your processes.

    Real-time monitoring allows for immediate feedback and swift resolution of issues, enhancing the overall customer experience. Conversely, post-interaction evaluation offers detailed insights for long-term strategic improvements. Both methods are valid, and finding the right balance between the two is crucial for the success of your contact center.

    Additionally, you should establish KPIs and metrics that can indicate how successful your call center is. Use your QA software’s reporting features alongside call recording to help provide real-time feedback to your agents, tying into their training and improving their skills overall.

    #8. Establish feedback loops and strive for continuous improvement

    As you begin the contact center optimization workflow process, don’t underestimate the power of feedback. Your customers and agents can provide powerful insights highlighting the path to continuous improvement.

    Use surveys, direct feedback, and interaction analytics to build a comprehensive picture of your call center's performance. By analyzing this data and creating actionable plans, you can observe their impacts on your KPIs, and course-correct if needed.

    Creating a feedback loop is more than collecting data; it's about using that information to drive continuous improvement. Implement changes based on this feedback to refine processes, training, and customer interaction strategies. This iterative approach enhances service quality and demonstrates to your team and customers that their opinions are valued and instrumental in shaping your call center’s future. 

    #9. Consider compliance and security requirements

    When optimizing call center workflows, compliance isn't just a box to tick, it's a cornerstone for trust and reliability. Leverage quality assurance (QA) software to ensure your contact center adheres to these regulatory standards. QA, along with targeted coaching sessions, can help maintain compliance while enhancing service quality. 

    Additionally, laying down the foundation for robust security measures isn’t negotiable. In the US alone, over 1,802 data breaches exposed over 422 million records in 2022.

    Ideally, you want to create an environment where legal compliance is seamlessly integrated into daily operations, safeguarding the business and its customers. Take into account disaster recovery and continuity planning too. These plans can ensure your contact center remains operational and secure even in unforeseen circumstances.

    #10. Define your key performance indicators (KPIs)

    Defining and meticulously measuring KPIs is the final step in optimizing your call center. These metrics are vital signs of your operation's health and efficiency. They offer clear, quantifiable insights into performance and help pinpoint areas needing improvement.

    Choosing the right KPIs involves understanding your business goals and customer needs. Some critical KPIs to consider include:

    • First Call Resolution (FCR)
    • Average Handle Time (AHT)
    • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
    • Agent Occupancy Rate
    • Call Abandonment Rate

    Routinely review your performance against these KPIs, making adjustments where necessary to align your call center more closely with your goals. This not only helps in maintaining operational excellence but also in identifying opportunities for innovation and enhancement. 

    Additionally, it’s essential to strike a healthy balance between ambitious and realistic goals. Setting achievable goals encourages your teams to strive for excellence, while impossible ones will sink morale, leading to agent burnout and churn.

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    The path to call center excellence is paved with well-defined KPIs, robust QA monitoring, and a commitment to continuous improvement. By understanding and tracking your KPIs, such as average handle time, first call resolution, and CSAT, you're setting the stage for noteworthy improvements.

    QA software, like Scorebuddy, plays a pivotal role in this. It ensures compliance, enhances security and offers invaluable insights for training and improvement. Harnessing the power of QA software lets you monitor, analyze, and tweak your operations for optimal performance. Try it free today.


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      How do I optimize my contact center?

      To optimize your contact center, analyze key performance metrics, implement quality assurance software for performance tracking, and train agents regularly in soft and technical skills. Utilize AI and chatbots for efficiency, ensure consistent service across all communication channels, and continuously gather and act on customer feedback for improvement.

      How do you optimize call center staffing?

      To optimize call center staffing, employ mathematical models for precise forecasting of call volumes, enabling efficient scheduling during peak times. Maximize agent utilization by aligning schedules with predicted demand, reducing idle time.

      To maintain service quality and efficiency, set clear performance benchmarks for agents, such as average handle time (AHT) and first call resolution (FCR). Incorporate workforce management (WFM) software for dynamic scheduling and real-time adjustments, ensuring optimal staffing levels.