Five ways to improve staff outbound productivity and maximise contact centre ROI

BLOG: By Justin Hamilton-Martin, CEO, UltraComms – Companies are increasingly focused on squeezing as much out of their contact centre investments as possible, including ensuring staff productivity is maximised, with every single second made to count. Against this they need to balance the need to ensure service quality is not compromised, and that staff are motivated and supported, rather than just being on an endless treadmill.

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These two sets of needs can seem poles apart, but in fact, they can be complementary, particularly when applying the right processes, and with the support of recent technological innovations. Here are five areas to think about:

Flexible scripting – Call scripting is a delicate art-form and one that ipays dividends if done correctly. Successful scripting should keep the conversation between agent and customer ‘on message’, but also has to be flexible: agents will perform better if they feel they can hold honest, engaging and real-time conversations. Also make sure that scripts are reviewed and updated based on the skills and accreditation associated with the employee. Ensure integration with CRM systems, so that any improvisation is in line with on-screen data. Also think about adding in screen recording, not just call recording, so that team leaders have even better information to help monitor agents and suggest improvements where needed.

Real-time campaign monitoring – Traditionally, companies have reviewed campaign performance after the event, for instance, daily, weekly or even monthly. The problem with that approach is that it identifies any issues once they have happened and it is too late to take remedial action. So consider adopting the latest in real-time remote campaign monitoring, where experts can continually review a campaign to prevent issues such as long inbound call waiting times and recommend immediate changes to the set-up (such as real-time call blending, transferring outbound agents to handle inbound peaks).

Additionally, interleaving multiple smaller lists into one campaign allows data managers to test new sources of data without materially upsetting the balance and momentum of teams. Monitoring contact rates and conversion rates per list can help assess where to spend efforts and allows for continual evolution whilst mitigating risk.

Flexibility – Staying with the theme of call blending, also add in intelligent routing, which means that the workforce can be used more dynamically, according to adviser’s skills or priority groups. As well as preventing relatively inexperienced agents having to deal with challenging calls, it also helps to ensure that calls are handled efficiently and swiftly, while giving customers a satisfactory experience.

Better call abandonment management – many readers will be familiar with traditional Answering Machine Detection (AMD) solutions as a means to adhere to Ofcom’s call abandonment compliance (which is currently being reviewed and is expected to become even tighter in the future). However, many organisations have either abandoned AMD or are struggling to make it work, for several reasons: they create a delay of several seconds (which adds up over the course of the day) and can lead to high volumes of false positives, meaning that companies work through data lists too quickly and thus lose opportunities. Also, these existing systems create a lot of administration overheads.

The new generation of AMD technology launched in 2015 is a step-change in how AMD is managed: it focuses on accuracy (which makes sense, since existing systems weeded out too many numbers that in fact had a human at the end of the line), achieving 99.99 per cent accuracy based on a sample set of over one million calls. Moreover, it is undetectable for caller and caller, eliminates the delay of existing systems (and those time and cost savings will add up over the day), plus because data is collected automatically for the call centre operator, the administrative headache involved in demonstrating Ofcom compliance thresholds are being met is drastically reduced.

Payment compliance – Just as that sales call is going so well, along comes the need to deal with payment, which slows the whole process down. Add on top the need for PCI DSS compliance and it’s no surprise that payment is the bane of many call centre managers. However, the use of DTMF clamping technology means that the agent can stay on the call without being exposed to sensitive customer card data, whilst the payment is being made, reducing delays or worse still, a call being dropped.

These are all good examples of how an efficient call centre and productive staff isn’t just about focusing on minutes, but looking at the overall picture to make sure that available resources are being used properly, while at the same time supporting staff morale and of course, most importantly, quality of customer service.

Justin Hamilton-Martin is CEO of Ultracomms, which was founded over a decade ago as Europe’s first ever cloud-based contact centre solution provider and today, supports a wide variety of UK organisations through its portfolio of innovation-focused services.