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A thriving call center is a competitive advantage. It is a crucial differentiator for many companies—above and beyond their products and services or revenue. In fact, according to a 2019 Gartner report, customer experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined.

As for effective customer service in 2020, according to Adobe and Econsultancy, it’s all about customer journey management. “Today’s consumers expect easy, valuable experiences personalized to their wants and needs,” the report explains. This is a tremendous opportunity for Call Center Quality Assurance to be at the forefront of a movement towards an enhanced customer journey.

But how?

There are many challenges facing call center QA teams, agents, and managers.

What are the Biggest Call Center Challenges?

We’ve collected some of the most common challenges call center QA teams encountered to offer solutions to overcome them.

Challenge #1 - Staffing, Morale, Absenteeism

Call center QA agent, and team roles are demanding. Staff turnover can be high. Finding, hiring, and training the best people for the job takes time and money. And it is always a challenge to employ suitable agents.

Call centers are often flat in structure, offering agents little to zero upward mobility. This results in low morale and absenteeism, neither serving your customers well.

Call Center Staffing Solution

Without a path to tremendous success, it is difficult for agents to feel motivated to exceed goals or improve. Providing this path incentivizes employees to stay, grow, and be a more effective voice for your organization and customers.

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Consider giving ownership to call center agents. Empower them to set their own goals and self-score their interactions with customers. This is a non-threatening way to increase employee engagement while also improving the quality of your customer service.

When you engage your agents through self-scoring, it has long-lasting positive benefits. Engaged agents are more satisfied with their jobs, and they are:

  • 8 times more likely to stay with the firm beyond the first year
  • 16 times more likely to refer their friends
  • 3 times more likely to feel highly empowered to resolve customer issues.

Challenge #2 - Quality Monitoring

It is common for call center monitoring teams to be overwhelmed by the abundance of data to collect, with so many calls and an ever-increasing number of customer touchpoints. The problem is that many call centers are stuck in the past. They are using outdated systems and metrics to handle their QA monitoring.

The problem is that when these ways of handling QA don’t line up with today’s customer expectations, it can result in poor customer service experiences and lost sales. QA monitoring gaps and delays can negatively impact agent training, workflow, and productivity.

Call Center QA Solution

What is unknown cannot be measured and therefore cannot be improved. The first step to excellent QA monitoring is understanding your agents and your customer experience.

Here are a few QA customer service best practices to get you started.

  • Focus on the essential elements of every call: tone of voice, active listening, appropriate language, and effective questioning
  • Demonstrate emotional intelligence skills: anticipate customer requests, educate customers, build rapport, and provide emotional support.
  • Track the right call center KPIs: quantitative and non-quantitative performance factors.
    • Business-critical metrics: agent absenteeism, agent turnover, and schedule adherence
    • Customer critical metrics: average time in queue, average abandonment rate, average handle time, and first contact resolution
    • Process critical metrics: contact quality management score, measuring product and technical knowledge, and communication skills

From there, you must implement a comprehensive quality scoring system. This will help you monitor, measure, and manage all aspects of call center activity and customer touchpoints. The key is to empower your agents with the data they need to encourage customer-centric behaviors.

Challenge #3 – Relevance

With fast-paced growth in digital marketing, online shopping, artificial intelligence, and chatbots, some call center teams struggle to maintain their relevance. The truth is that as technology advances, there exists an even greater need for consumers to feel an emotional bond with a company. This level of deep connection is what will continue to set companies apart.

McKinsey reported that 70% of the customer journey is dictated by how the customer feels they are being treated. Call center employees are often the first to speak to customers, who have the unique opportunity to create an emotional connection with customers.

Relevant Solution

First, you need to focus on getting to know your customer deeper than ever before. Put a face to your customer—including their demographics and expectations—so you can improve the quality of every interaction by treating your customers like people.

Next, you need to focus on enhancing call center agents’ emotional intelligence. This means moving your agents away from classic and robotic customer service and implementing emotionally intelligent tactics. For example, your agents could add storytelling during calls, surprise customers with upgrades, or reward loyalty.

Finally, engage where and how your customers want and watch results soar. If you're going to be relevant, get on the channels your customers care about most—email, social media, live chat, and blog.

Check out this incredible resource to develop a branded omnichannel strategy for your customer service team. 

Challenge #4 - Canned Replies

The secret is out. Customers know when agents are reading off of scripts, and they don’t appreciate it. Scripts are the easy way out, but they can easily sound robotic.

Hit the right note with a script is not easy and can anger your customers instead of helping them. Creating an emotional connection is what’s necessary.

Call Center Script Solution

If you have to read from a script, make sure you do it well. Create a well-crafted script designed to minimize human error, encourage consistency, develop agent confidence, and improve customer service.

Here are 15 call center script best practices to help you get it right.

  1. Hire the suitable agents
  2. Get to the point quickly and efficiently
  3. Train agents when to follow the script and when not to
  4. Make the script sound as natural as possible
  5. Don’t encourage agents to read it word-for-word
  6. Make your scripts personal
  7. Drop the false empathy
  8. Use your script as a knowledge resource
  9. Keep things simple
  10. Spell out the basics (greetings, address, introduction, CTA, etc.)
  11. Write our multiple scenarios
  12. Apologies are not enough
  13. Allow for growth
  14. Review the competition
  15. Track for success

But we also strongly suggest you get to a point where scripts are the exception, not the rule. To do this, spend time developing agent soft skills. These soft skills include active listening, using the right tone, and taking a problem-solving approach.

When you train your agents to have the skills and knowledge to handle whatever customer situation they face, that is what will truly move the needle on call center performance. Consider trying out some of these call center training games to take your employee training to the next level.

Challenge #5 - Listening more and talking less

Jumping right into a script may seem like the right thing for a call center agent, especially when trying to get to a resolution quickly. But not everything can be answered in a script.

Listening is the key to understanding and something most agents fail to do well. Agents often lack the ability to discuss complex information, learn from customers, and present the company’s core message in a meaningful and heartfelt way.

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Active Listening Solution

Make sure you have a proper onboarding setup and ongoing training for your agents regarding customer service. You can also hold specific training that develops listening skills, an essential part of a successful call center customer experience.

When teaching soft skills such as active listening, use a blended learning model. You need to offer a mix of self-study and live training to help your agents more quickly understand the concept and be able to practice it in live sessions.

Another way to demonstrate listening is to ask customers for their feedback. You need to open up a dialogue with your customers about what they like and don’t enjoy about your brand, call center, and customer service representatives. You can do this by offering a short survey after every interaction or ending every call with a question about how it went. The more you can show you’re listening, the better.

It’s really about building emotional connections with customers. Customers want to interact with and purchase from brands that share their values and care about what they care about. And listening to, really hearing, customer needs is the first, perhaps the most important, step in reaching this goal.

Challenge #6 - Tone of Voice for Call Center Agents

Call center agents to have only their voice to represent them in interactions with customers. The tone of voice used is the first impression customers have of agents and the company they represent. If the agent is bored, rushed, or annoyed, that will come across in their tone of voice.

The tone of Voice Solution

As with the development of listening skills, specific training is needed regarding agent tone of voice. And it starts with training in call center emotional intelligence.

  • Put your agents in simulations to gauge their reactions to various customer situations and take note of their tone of voice.
  • Agents rarely deal with happy customers, and that frustration can sometimes create a negative feedback loop. That’s why it’s essential to teach your agents how to deal with stress and irritation, helping them develop strategies to handle pressure, tension better, and anxiety.
  • Identify patterns in your agent’s tone of voice that can be nurtured or curbed. Then train regularly to ingrain positive actions.

Here again, getting off-script will help. Agents sticking directly to reading the scripts tend to speak with monotone inflections. Instead, agents trained to connect with customers by asking them how they’re doing or sharing something about themselves are empowered to be more empathetic, natural, and positive in their tone of voice.

Challenge #7: Workflow Optimization

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the call center. Every month, more than six in ten Americans reach out to customer service for help (Statista). Trying to keep up with demand while improving productivity and optimizing the workflow is not easy. Accurately forecasting staffing needs and handling call volume is a huge struggle.

Worse yet, 74% of call center agents are at risk for burnout. And 30% of those individuals are at severe risk of burnout.

Workflow Optimization Solution

To ultimately handle your customer’s questions and support tickets, you need to know how to optimize your call center workflow. This means effective management of your customer support queue for positive results. There are several ways you can do this.

  • Develop an Organizational Chart: A proper organizational chart will help you determine who is responsible for what, what tools are at their disposal, and how customer service inquiries are assigned.
  • Prioritize Support: Depending on your team, you need to decide how you’ll answer support tickets—either on a first-come, first-serve basis, or you can prioritize support based on channel, task, and customer.
  • Categorize Inquiries: Segment your customer service requests by type and category. Examples include marketing, development, sales, IT, etc.
  • Enable Self-Service: Provide your customers with answers to their most common questions by creating a knowledge database they can use themselves.
  • Analyze Data: Set KPIs that you’ll use to track productivity and agent performance to see if your workflow is working and how to improve.
  • Test Different Approaches: There’s no one-size-fits-all call center workflow. Constantly ask for feedback from your agents, customers, and management to improve efficiency.

Challenge #8: High Customer Expectations

Customer expectations are higher than ever.

  • 82% of U.S. and 74% of non-US customers want more human interaction from businesses now and in the future (PwC).
  • 84% of consumers consider customer service a critical factor in purchasing decisions (Zendesk).
  • If you don’t provide customers with the experience they want and expect, they’ll choose to do business with someone else. Nine out of ten customers will stop purchasing from a company after three poor customer service experiences. (HubSpot).

Customer Experience Solution

The key to high-quality customer experiences is connecting with your customer at every touchpoint. Every interaction needs to focus on providing exceptional customer service.

In particular, there are seven steps to improve customer experience in your call center.

  1. Get to Know Your Customer: Create a persona for your typical call center customer to communicate better, and treat them like a natural person (based on their demographics and expectations).
  2. Pay Attention to the Customer Journey: Interact with your clients uniquely along every step in their journey, personalizing the interaction to their needs.
  3. Develop Emotional Connections: Move away from robotic customer service and implement emotionally intelligent tactics to improve customer experience.
  4. Decrease Customer Effort: Provide one-click checkouts, instant communication, next-day shipping, and fast & efficient service. Simplicity is best.
  5. Ask for and Implement Feedback: Ask your customer what they like and don’t like about your brand and your customer service and incorporate their ideas.
  6. Train Your Agents: Your call center agents are invaluable. Train them to handle customers exceptionally well.
  7. Offer Omnichannel Support: Engage with your customers when and how they want—social media, email, live chat, blog, etc.

Challenge #9: Reducing Bad Customer Experiences

One bad customer experience can have a lasting negative impact on your brand. In fact, 62 percent of customers say that they’ll share bad experiences with others, according to Salesforce. This harmful word-of-mouth sharing can quickly ruin a good reputation.

Negative Customer Experiences Solution

Avoiding negative customer experiences means evaluating how successful you are at helping customers. You need to be able to take a step back and look at the big picture of your contact center to improve customer experience operationally, tactically, and strategically.

An excellent place to start is to review your NPS (Net Promoter Score). This is the gold standard for measuring customer experience and brand loyalty. You can utilize your score to tell you how well your agents perform, on which channels you excel, how often you resolve issues, and if your customers are satisfied.

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From there, craft a strategic QA framework to analyze, interpret, and implement actions based on customer experience data. To do this:

  • Make measuring QA a part of your daily operations. You need to determine the key drivers that directly influence negative or positive customer experience.
  • Routinely listen to customer calls to evaluate how your agents achieve the required customer experience outcomes.
  • Engage with Detractors and Passives to see what you need to do to meet their needs better and solve their issues.
  • Identify poor-performing agents and provide regular training, coaching, and advising to improve agent skills.
  • Remove silos that require customers to move from one department to another to get the answers and help they need.

Challenge #10: Poor Contact Center Reporting & Analytics Software

Call centers need data, tools, and information about agent performance and customer satisfaction. Reports and analytic tools to get accurate and consistent information about what is happening within the contact center are imperative.

There’s a severe lack of helpful call center metrics for some teams to improve call center operations. These contact centers might not be able to identify patterns and trends or reveal agent performance and customer insights.

Contact Center Reporting Solution

To optimize your contact center’s performance, you need to be able to gather and analyze data by implementing the right tools to capture relevant KPIs. There are a variety of approaches you can take to this, and it all depends on the specific needs of your contact center.

Popular contact center data and reporting approaches include speech analytics, text analytics, cross-channel analytics, predictive analytics, and performance analytics. However, the most efficient and effective way to gain valuable insight into your contact center is through quality assurance reporting that considers the “human element.”

Scorebuddy scorecards produce call center data focused on agent performance. You gain both quantitative and qualitative metrics and data to consistently achieve better performance.

Far better than a spreadsheet, Scorebuddy scorecards can help you shorten the time for QA improvement by:

  • Addressing the source of your contact center problems via analysis of root cause [gap].
  • Providing precise feedback on your contact center via benchmark performance data and QA outcomes.
  • Putting your agents at the center of your QA data, focusing on their strengths and weaknesses to fill in training gaps.

By arming your contact center team with the correct data, analytics, QA intelligence, and reporting, you can uncover patterns, highlight trends, and make educated business decisions designed to improve outcomes.

Summary: Overcome Call Center Challenges with a Quality Assurance Tool

You can genuinely serve and better predict your customers’ needs in the call center. The key is to provide incredible customer experiences at every touchpoint. And while this isn’t easy, it is possible when you put the right processes, procedures, and tools in place.

Call center monitoring is how you monitor, measure, and manage these moments between call center professionals and customers. Yes, this process has many challenges, but with thoughtful goal-setting and agent input, weights and values can be assigned, so that call center QA is scored and quantified to lead to growth and tremendous success. View these common call center QA team challenges as opportunities to get things right.

Drop us a line if you’re interested in learning more about how scorecards can help improve the customer experience and enhance your organization.

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