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Getting less drab and more blab out of call centers

(EDITORIAL) A few tips on how to maximize call center efficiency for both your business and your employees.

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Call center communication

Whether your call team is 3 people or 300 people, when it comes to directly engaging customers and prospects, your call center is one of the top channels you have available. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t give their call centers much attention and end up relying on lazy hiring and management processes.

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The result is a noticeable lack of output.

Practical ways to enhance efficiency in the call center

Every organization has its own definition for call center efficiency.

But at the end of the day, your call center should quickly and effectively address customer issues and complaints with poise and grace.

If you aren’t doing all of these things, then something is missing. Here are a few simple tips that can be used to improve efficiency within this department.

Specialize your team

The problem a lot of companies have is they don’t give any specialized attention to who handles customer calls. This lack of division creates confusion and bogs down processes that are otherwise fairly simple.

“Think about your sales team like a factory that makes sales wins,” suggests TRACK, a leading cloud-based call center platform.

TRACK also said, “Rather than having your Account Executives hunting for business, fielding inbound inquiries from hand-raisers, and closing business, wouldn’t it make more sense to let them do what they do best – win deals? The same is true for cold callers. By separating that function and allowing your inside sales reps to specialize in the nuances of that function, it’s better for the whole team.”

Give agents more autonomy

Call center agents often feel that they’re held back from doing their jobs. This feeling is generally rooted in an overabundance of rules and complicated processes. In order for agents to do anything, they have to put a customer on hold, contact a supervisor, and get approval.

If you require your agents to get approval on everything they do, then you’re slowing things down.

One helpful piece of advice is to give your agents more autonomy. As long as you have the right hiring and training processes in place, this should only have a positive impact.

Provide better training

Speaking of training – how are you doing on this front? According to research from Frost and Sullivan, 60 percent of all repeat calls occur as a result of inadequate training and/or processes. When you analyze frustrated callers through this lens, it becomes pretty clear that better training equals better efficiency.

While there’s a time and a place for classroom learning, the majority of your training should center on real-world experiences.

The more you can immerse your agents in actual scenarios that they’ll encounter on the job, the better off things will be.

Use callback functionality

The most frustrating aspect of a customer’s lifecycle is being left on hold for long periods of time.

While you may not always be able to serve a customer immediately, you can reduce the frustration of waiting on hold by implementing callback functionality.

This mitigates the amount of time your customers have to wait and decongests the phone lines.

Allow for frequent breaks

Working in a call center comes with a lot of stress. Agents often deal with customers who are angry, confused, or agitated. Interacting with these sort of people for hours on end can lead to high levels of frustration, which impacts performance and damages your brand’s ability to deliver exceptional customer service.

Instead of just giving your agents two 15-minute breaks and one hour-long lunch break during the day, break things up and give them frequent short breaks.

This gives them something to look forward to throughout the day and relieves the constant pressure of having to be “on.”

Use the right motivational techniques

How are you motivating your call center employees?

A pat on the back is great, but you’re missing out on an opportunity to extract maximum value out of your agents if you aren’t actively implementing some sort of motivation.

Something like a free lunch or extra break for efficiently handling an important call can go a long way.

Get the most out of your call center

It’s quite challenging to run an efficient call center. The average turnover rate, depending on who you ask, is somewhere between 30 and 45 percent.

By comparison, the average employee turnover rate across other industries is just a bit more than 15 percent.Click To Tweet

With such a lack of continuity, it’s difficult to maximize efficiency over an extended period of time. But it’s certainly not impossible!

Get your call centers centered

When you’re able to properly hire, train, and motivate your call center agents to execute the processes you’ve established, you’ll find that you’re more capable of maximizing your resources.

Make this the year that you commit to developing a sound strategy for this all-important extension of your business.

#CallCenterHelpLine

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he’s not consulting, glued to a headset, he’s working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Opinion Editorials

Our five faves for Friday – almost Thanksgiving edition

(EDITORIAL) This week, I have so many faves that I can barely keep it at just five – Unicorns, gophers, tears, science nerdery, and rebellions, oh my!

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I heard a rumor that it’s Friday again, so today we share with you five of the neato-est things that we came across this week – some silly, some serious, all awesome.

1. Brands refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day

It started with retailers opening early on Black Friday, then opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and now retailers are expected to force their staff to work instead of enjoy a bajillion-ish year old American tradition.

But some companies are pushing back, publicly refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day, so even though our home doesn’t care about Black Friday, we’ll be giving some business to those taking a stand.

2. I need you to know about my favorite tv show ever

So there’s nothing new about this, but since you’ve never heard from ME on a Friday Faves roundup, I really need you to know something about me – I have a lot of natural curiosities and history (when not told in a dusty way) fascinates the hell out of me.

Unearthed on the Science Channel is friggen amazing and literally EVERY episode has taught me something that I didn’t know before (like the one about Stonehenge included new discoveries that change how we think about how humans used to operate – seriously mindblowing stuff). All of the episodes are available online, yo, so get to nerding!

3. No one has bought me a Pony Cycle yet

One of the only email newsletters I actually open is The Grommet – they feature independent makers’ inventions and wares, and I’m all about supporting the little guy.

But I posted this insanely amazing Pony Cycle on my Facebook timeline this week with a request that someone buy me one. Guess what? No takers. My friends are monsters. I mean it comes in horse, unicorn (dibs), and zebra, why not buy me one or three?

ponycycle

4. Video that made me cry

After the recent earthquake hit Iran, there has been a deep need for food for the victims. Watch this video (my fave part is the pat pat on the back) and try to tell me that hate isn’t something we’re taught… also, I’m not crying, you are…

5. My favorite gif of this week

If you know me, you know I love gifs more than the average person. So when I came across this one, I knew I had to award it my fave of the week…

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Opinion Editorials

Is your job inadvertently harming your health?

(EDITORIAL) We often get so consumed with our work that we unknowingly hurt ourselves in the process. Learn how to keep this from happening.

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health at work

With the changes in seasons, we tend to put more of an emphasis on our health. This makes sense as flus and colds have a tendency to run rampant around the holidays.

However, we should be more mindful of keeping track of our health throughout the year. And, given that our jobs are such a large part of our lives, it is important to keep in mind that our jobs can have an affect on our health. Which can often be a bad thing.

For most of us, we are in the same space for eight hours of our day. Sometimes we think that just because it’s ourselves occupying that space, things can’t really get germy. Well, think again.

We have so many things that we touch on a daily basis – our keyboard, mouse, phone, ID badge, etc. These have a tendency to become a house for germs, which can hurt us as time goes on.

Combat this by setting aside some time each week to disinfect all of your most-used items. Also, consider keeping some hand sanitizer at your desk.

Getting up to clean around your office can help take care of another issue – being too sedentary throughout the day. Sometimes we get so consumed with plugging away at our computers that we forget to get up and stretch.

This can be harmful to your weight and your circulation. Keep the blood flowing by getting up and moving a bit every hour or so.

The mindfulness of your health should not stop at the physical, but should also involve keeping an eye on mental health. Your job plays a big part in this as well.

First of all, you start and end your day with a commute. For some, this can be incredibly strenuous – expensive, traffic-filled, etc.

This has been known to lead to depression. Try filling this time with positivity and fulfillment by listening to a quality podcast or an audio book. This will help to give meaning to otherwise wasted time.

The most important thing to monitor with your mental health is making sure to not overwork yourself. It can be difficult to find that perfect work/life balance, but it’s necessary for a happy and healthy life.

Try staying away from work emails and texts after a certain time of the day on weekdays or on the weekends. Think about it this way – you’re not supposed to tend to your personal business during work hours, so why let work interfere with your personal time?

All of this can be helped by checking in with yourself every once in a while, or even by using the buddy system and discussing the topic with a work friend.

Lastly, be sure to check with your company to learn about health and wellness programs that may be offered.

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Opinion Editorials

Do literally anything with your money besides buy an iPhone X

(EDITORIAL) The iPhone X is pretty snazzy, but let me express why your money belongs literally anywhere besides in Apple’s pocket for this phone.

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iphone x

The iPhone X is off to a rocky start, beginning with the fact that no one seems to know whether it’s supposed to be pronounced “iPhone Ten” or “iPhone Ex” and working up from there.

If you’re here, you probably don’t need me to tell you that a 5.8-inch OLED screen, facial recognition, 4K recording at 60 FPS, and an all-glass design are superfluous as hell — but just in the off-chance that I’m wrong, THE IPHONE X IS SUPERFLUOUS AS HELL.

Take literally 30 seconds to think about all of the mega-cool features that convinced you to buy your last smartphone, then think of the last time you used even half of those features without feeling compelled to do so. If you’re one of those people who uses all of the filters on the camera every day, fine, but I’m willing to bet that you just use your phone for Facebook, texting, and calling your grandma.

You don’t need a 5.8-inch, all-glass, basically-a-tablet-of-a-phone to do those things, but if money doesn’t mean anything to you, be my guest.

It’s also worth noting that there is a certain point at which “really fast” and “really, really fast” feel identical to one another. My personal experience with this phenomenon was with the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8; it doesn’t matter how fast your newest processor is if the last one was fast enough.

Apple has a long history of publicly executing things that people are still using. While it’s hard to be too mad about the headphone jack, they hit a soft spot when they nixed ethernet ports—and, more recently, USB 3.0 ports—and the most recent dissident to fall victim to Apple’s indiscriminate chopping block is the Home button.

Yeah, that thing that make the iPhone usable in the first place? Not there anymore. Worse still, the simple display is now flooded with different shortcut hotspots. For example, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center — no, wait, that’s how you get home. You swipe from the top-right corner of the screen to open the Control Center, while the top-left corner opens the notifications screen that — hey, are you writing this down?

To make matters worse, Apple added a bunch of different contextual shortcuts to the physical buttons on the sides of the iPhone X, further reducing accessibility. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Is the iPhone X necessary? Absolutely not. Is it neato? Sure.

But is it worth your time if you’ve got dollar bills to blow? Again, absolutely not — do literally anything else with that money, up to and including burning it. As long as Apple continues to ignore the issues that plague their devices in favor of broken facial recognition and 3D emoji animation, consider spending your money elsewhere.

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