Improving service level in contact centers

Contact Centre Efficiency

Improving Customer Service in Contact Centers


Four Steps to improvement.


The main issue often expressed by customers in relation to poor customer service using call Centers is not the time they wait in queue (this is often quickly forgotten once the interaction with the agent starts) but the problem of talking to the right person who can solve their particular issue or fulfil their requirement.

Therefore it should be high on our list of priorities to minimise customers being past from department to department or being served by the wrong skilled agent. (By agent I mean the person who takes calls in the call Center)

Not only does this impact customer satisfaction it also impacts repeat calls, call durations and lost calls (abandons).


Step 1 - Clear contact information for customers


The first step in improving the likely hood of customers getting to the right agent is ensuring that customers have the correct contact information to hand.

For example when a customer gets a product home, they should be clearly informed of the contact details for the helpdesk, or when receiving a bill or if the customer has any queries then the appropriate number on how to contact the billing or helpdesk team should be clearly indicated.

This may be simply one single contact phone number, but we should also include web sites addresses, or other methods.

  Actions to take!


  • What contact information is contained within the web, installation guides, product documentation or bills for your organisation, are they clear and easily located, make sure you read these through your customers eyes for clarity and logic?



  • When new contact details (Numbers or web sites) or channels are created be aware that old documentation and old product stock may still be advising customers of the original methods to contact us, always plan for deleting or running down old numbers or your routing strategy will soon become a housekeeping nightmare!


Step 2 - Reduce Transfers through up-skilling


It is logical that the more an agent is skilled the more likely the agent will be able to satisfy the customers query.

Therefore if agents are all highly skilled there is less of a requirement for individual separate specialised agent groups, which means the customer has a higher chance of reaching an agent with the skills to satisfy their requirements.

It is also a fact that the fewer the skill groups within a contact Center the more efficient the use of resources (agents).


 Actions to take!

  • Review the agent groups across your organisation are there any areas of specialisation that could be consolidated, what training resource would you need to bring two skill groups together?

     Warning !

  • There is a trade off between the level of quality and the level of skills an agent can be trained in. Within some organisations, depending on the service there could be many process work rounds and system anomalies to remember by the agents to fulfil their job therefore skill sets should be designed carefully in relation to maintaining quality while minimising the separation of skill groups.


Step 3 - Ensure accurate IVR routing and language


First the jargon busting, an IVR is Interactive Voice Response, i.e. Press 1 for sales, 2 for Help, 3 for Accounts, 4 for more help etc.

Once the customer has dialled the correct number they must navigate the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) whereby they will hear a series of options and choose by pushing the appropriate key on their keypad.

The main objective of the IVR is to route customers to the right skill group, however this is a regular issue for customers and much debate has been made about their worth. However if designed correctly and with a customer centric approach they can be very useful tools for both the customer and for improving contact Center efficiency.

The two fundamental elements of the IVR are its schema (The layout) and the language used. A well designed IVR will quickly route the customer to the most appropriate agent of self service whilst keeping them informed and prepared to deal with their query.

The best practice for IVR design and the use of language is covered in some of my other articles.

 Actions to take!

  • Review the language in your current IVR options; do your customers' know what it means? Again do this through the Customers Eyes.
  • Language is a powerful tool to influence the customer in what route they take through the IVR.  For example the phrase “If you are interested in ordering press 1” has a different feeling to “To Order now! Press 1”.


Step 4 - Provide clear internal phone directory


When the agent is faced with a customer query that they cannot handle they need a clear and simple directory to refer to ensure the call is transferred to the correctly skilled agent who can help.

 Action to take!

  • What materials and resources do your agents refer to in relation to transferring  numbers?
  • Is this list regularly updated and controlled?


 Warning !

  • The customer will already be displeased that they have to be transferred, so getting the transfer right the first time every time is paramount, get it wrong a second time and the customer will start losing faith that it was worth while ringing in the first place.

This is my first article in a series on how to improve Service and save costs in Contact Centers, come back soon for more.