How to Improve the Productivity and Morale in Your Call Center to Enhance Performance

IRIS CRM Blog, Sales Efficiency
Improve the Productivity and Morale in Your Call Center

We live in an increasingly digital world, yet, traditional call centers are still as important as ever for the simple reason that calling is still seen as the most personal and, arguably, most effective means of communication. Salespeople know that outbound calling, including ever-controversial cold calling, works. On the customer side, when people have a problem, they want the kind of immediate feedback and resolution that email and support tickets can’t offer, so they reach for the phone. 

But while call centers are an important focus in many industries, including the merchant services business, two issues plague call operation above all others – inefficiency and poor employee morale. Both have the potential to severely undercut the success of not just your calling operation, but of your company as a whole. So, they can’t be ignored.  Below, we’ll examine some of the most straightforward, yet effective measures you can take to shore up both the productivity and efficiency of your calling operations and the well-being and morale of the staff handling them. 

 

Improving Your Call Center’s Productivity and Efficiency

Efficiency is king in most call centers. That’s especially true in sales environments, where volume equals revenue, and working slowly just won’t cut it. But no call center works at peak efficiency, and there are always improvements to be made. Luckily, there are some very straight forward steps you can take to help streamline your call center’s operations, ranging from better IVR to plugging talent leaks. 

Minimize Turnover:

Turnover is one of the primary drivers of inefficiency in call centers, and the average one replaces over a quarter of their agents annually. Whether your center focuses primarily on inbound support calls, outbound sales calls, or anything in between, working the phones is a skill that takes time to learn. It also takes time for new staff to adapt to the unique environment call centers represent. So, whenever an experienced agent leaves and a new body is brought in, there is a period of time during that new hire’s training and acclimatization in which it’s completely unrealistic to expect efficiency from them. As a result, one of the best things any call center can do to maximize productivity and efficiency is to keep experienced employees happy in their jobs – a topic we’ll get into further later on. 

Implement Continuous Training:

Working over the phone presents some unique challenges, not the least of which is that the two parties conversing lose out on all of the visual, non-verbal communication cues that we all subconsciously rely on every day. The gap created by a voice-only communication medium can be overcome, but it requires agents to maintain a constant awareness of their own telephone personas and to constantly refine everything from their inflection, to their rate of speech and beyond. Ongoing training is important in all industries, and especially in sales, but throw the telephone into the mix, and it becomes even more crucial. To ensure your agents are getting the most out of every minute they spend on the line, consider implementing continuous training using agents’ own calls as the framework for their education. 

Ensure You’re Tracking Call Outcomes Accurately:

One of the biggest threats to productivity is the lack of good data. If you can’t quickly generate useful business intelligence on how your agents are performing and how your calling strategies are working out, your center can’t possibly operate at maximum efficiency. One of the best ways to ensure that data is available is to integrate your call center software with a robust customer resource management platform and to use that integrated system to accurately track outcomes on all inbound and outbound calls. Doing so ensures not only that your agents are accurately (and easily) tracking the results of their efforts, but also that you can access the relevant data on those outcomes in a matter of a few clicks.

Utilize IVR Efficiently:

Interactive voice response is at the heart of most inbound calling centers, and with good reason – having to manually transfer each inbound call would slow things to a snail’s pace. But IVR isn’t perfect, and at the end of the day, the level to which it improves efficiency is largely dictated by the efficiency of the IVR options themselves. It’s amazing how many call centers heavily utilize IVR systems but then undercut their own efforts by making the IVR options dense and confusing. A great way to give your call center’s efficiency a punch in the arm is to audit your IVR system and look for ways to make it simpler. Is there jargon used that callers might not understand? Are there more than a small handful of options? How many tiers of IVR are there before a customer can get to an agent? These are all important considerations because poorly designed IVR often leads to a customer just pressing zero to bypass it anyway, making the whole thing moot. 

 

Improving Your Call Center’s Morale

As mentioned previously, one of the most important things any call center can do to maximize efficiency is to minimize the attrition of experienced, trained agents. Unfortunately, call centers are high-turnover environments with notoriously low morale. That means anything you can do to make your agents’ lives and jobs better is almost certainly worth considering. When looking for ways to boost agent morale, two of the highest-yield areas to focus on our goals and expectations, and job-augmenting technologies. 

Remove Friction but Don’t Make Volume the Be-All and End-All:

Volume is unquestionably important – extremely important. But, prioritizing volume above all else – including your agents’ well-being – is a mistake. You should always minimize any friction that might get in the way of your agents’ call volume, but it’s probably not a good idea to make volume your key evaluation criteria for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, results are what matter. Secondly, evaluating your agents primarily on volume promotes overwork, which is one of the reasons call centers are such high-burnout, high-turnover environments. So not only does prioritize volume risk burning out your staff, but it also doesn’t give you a good indication of who is actually converting their calls the most efficiently. Consider prioritizing, and rewarding, different KPIs that promote things like a better sales process or elevated service over pure volume. 

Embrace Technology to Make Your Agents’ Lives Easier:

Calling is repetitive. There is no way around that fact. Outbound calling agents often work from scripts that see them repeating essentially the same lines over and over again, and inbound agents often find themselves handling the same support requests and angry customer archetypes throughout their shifts. Luckily, there is the software currently on the market specifically designed to streamline and ease the workflows of agents in high-repetition and, in turn, mentally fatiguing environments like your call center. Modern, high-end power dialers are one such tool, and if your agents are still using traditional phone systems, it’s definitely time for a change. A good power dialer will reduce or eliminate most of the manual work involved in high-volume inbound and outbound call handling to ease the load on your staff. From something as simple as automatically dialing through an agent’s daily call list so that they don’t have to, to ensuring that inbound support calls are properly routed to avoid angry customers screaming into your agents’ ears, it can’t be overstated how much strain a good power dialer can remove from your team’s days.  

 

How IRIS CRM Creates Great Calling Environments

IRIS CRM, the payment industry’s leading customer resource management platform, is designed specifically to improve all aspects of operations for independent sales organizations of all sizes. That includes calling operations, thanks to IRIS CRM’s full-featured built-in power dialer. That dialer completely replaces your existing phone system, eliminating your monthly phone bill in the process, and provides your agents with the tools they need to work faster, more efficiently, and more enjoyably, including:

  • A fully customizable interactive voice response system
  • Automatic no-click and one-click dialing from premade call queues
  • One-click voicemail drop
  • Call recording, listen-in, and whisper functions for effective agent training
  • Round-robin inbound call routing
  • Easy call outcome tracking with automatic agent prompts
  • Advanced reporting and calling analytics

And much more. In addition to revolutionizing your ISO’s calling operations by boosting efficiency and agent morale, IRIS CRM also includes a full suite of sales and productivity tools designed to help your team land more, new merchants, pump up your residuals portfolio and provide unparalleled service. Talk to us and schedule a free demonstration of the program or to start your free trial today.