setting up a call center

Various types of call centers engage with us every day. Here are 5 mistakes that you should avoid while setting up a call center.

Some are outbound sales call centers where agents call us to convince us to buy something. Others are inbound sales call centers that we call to purchase something (like Teleshopping Network).

Other call centers are help desks for employees within an organization. Finally, there are customer support centers that businesses or brands either manage or outsource for customers to get support on products and services.

Today, IVR technology has made it easy to automate call centers. Reports that customer service volumes have dropped 17% since 2015 might lead us to believe that voice calls are on the decline. But this is not true. Even today, 74% of people contact customer service via phone, more than any other medium. And we still prefer speaking to a real human being than an automated voice on the other line.

This is why it’s crucial for call centers to NOT make certain critical mistakes while setting up. Their long-term success (or failure) depends on these aspects. Yet, we’ve seen many call centers commit the same mistakes over and over again.

Here are five of them, and how you can avoid them when you set up a call center.

1. Overpromising, Under-delivering

Clients are the most important aspect for call centers to run the show. Without clients, they won’t have the revenue to invest in technology and people.

However, in the attempt to bag a customer, the business development team often overpromises results at a fraction of the original cost because customers claim that they don’t have the budget.

The result of this tight budget is inferior quality technology and cheaper manpower. The focus shifts from providing callers with a good experience to handling more calls with lesser manpower – both in quality and quantity. First Call Resolution (FCR) goes out the window and customer satisfaction (CSAT) takes a beating.

Don’t give the sales team free rein to do anything just because you need a client. It’s better to wait till you find a well-paying client so that the call center can do justice to them.

2. Lack of On-Going Training

Many managers try to agents to hit the floor as soon as possible to maximize their productivity. Business leaders also feel that since churn is high, they don’t need to provide adequate and in-depth training to the agents.

But this is a big mistake and it shows in poor call quality, high Average Handling Time (AHT), and other important metrics that eventually affect the call center’s SLAs. This is not how any leader wants a call center to function, right?

Training should not be a namesake activity nor should it be a one-time one. When agents get trained better, they perform on calls and adhere to (or exceed) their metrics better.

However, leaders worry that this training will be expensive. It doesn’t have to be so. When leaders design clear processes to enable floor managers and supervisors to identify the main gaps in agents’ knowledge, training becomes easier and more cost effective to execute.

3. Investing in Poor Infrastructure

Continuing on the point of investment, many leaders focus too much on cutting costs and too little on servicing their clients and customers well.

Technology, along with people, forms the backbone of a call center. It includes systems like IVRs, softphones, IP-PBX systems, CRM systems, call recording and monitoring software, and more. Many call centers choose to outsource this technology to third-party vendors. While this saves costs in the short run, it could prove dangerous in the long run.

Outsourcing means giving up on control of the crucial aspect of technology. If the vendor doesn’t provide top notch support, or if the PRI lines or any tools go down at unexpected times, it affects the operations of the call center and customer experience as well.

It’s important for leaders to ensure that they outsource only non-core activities and technology. Even then they should remain careful of whom they outsource to.

4. No Clarity on Goals

As the popular saying goes, if you don’t know where you want to go, you will never get there.

Many business leaders design goals and strategies that look great on paper. Then they simply pass the goals down to subordinates without any explanation and demand that the goals be met. When the goals don’t work, they change goals in an instant and present people with “revised” (actually, new) goals.

The result is confusion and demotivation for employees of call centers. Each time a new memo or note gets circulated, they ignore it and go on doing exactly what they’ve always done. And it doesn’t take long for such a call center to start making losses.

Management should involve floor managers and leaders in the goal-setting process. It should discuss its thought process with them and clearly communicate why a specific goal is important. It should discuss strategies on how those goals will be achieved.

When all people are on the same page, it becomes more comfortable and motivating for everyone to achieve the set goals.

5. Focusing on the Wrong Metrics

We’ve seen call centers track plenty of metrics like the speed of first response, number of tickets raised, trends and patterns, etc. But in all this, they often forget metrics that really matter – like the number of open tickets. Or the number of customers who get a First Call Resolution.

It’s easy to pursue metrics that are easy to measure and manage, like First Response Rate. But people can go around these metrics by setting up automated systems to respond to a customer as soon as a ticket gets created. How long it takes to solve the customer’s issue is a different story.

Focus on metrics that contribute to the ultimate goal, not just the ones that are easy to manage and adhere to.

Summing Up

In a successful organization, things don’t fall in place by magic. Instead, people adhere to processes and contribute to favorable outcomes.

In a successful call center, the right people come aboard and improve it at levels. The focus stays on the right metrics which get audited consistently. Short-term goals are important. When they get aligned with the long-term ones, you enjoy increased efficiency and effectiveness.

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