Your call center is likely one of the most crucial elements of your business, regardless of whether it’s used for sales and cold calls, or for inbound customer service. The quality of your service is obviously going to matter, but too many call center managers underestimate the importance of efficiency.
Your call center’s efficiency refers to its ability to provide value, compared to the cost of running it. In other words, is your call center accomplishing goals to provide value in excess of what it costs to pay your employees and keep the lights on?
How to Improve Call Center Efficiency
Efficiency can be improved by reducing costs, improving productivity, or improving overall results, though ideally, you’ll use a combination of all three approaches. These are some of the best strategies to harness in this pursuit:
1. Consider outsourcing. Outsourcing your call center can result in dramatic cost savings, while simultaneously helping you accomplish more. Professional call centers tend to be heavily streamlined, with employees who are passionate about their work and highly efficient infrastructure. You’ll have to pay a monthly rate to enlist these services, but you’ll save money in several different areas, including overhead expenses, salaries, and benefits. It’s almost universally better—as long as you choose the right partner.
2. Perfect your scripts with experimentation. Following scripts will help your call center employees work more consistently, and can ensure they always have something good to say to their prospects or customers on the other end. However, there’s no such thing as a perfect script. Instead of relying on one core script for the majority of your call center interactions, experiment by trying out many variations of your script. Then, measure the outcomes for each variant and stick with the ones that work.
3. Provide better incentives. Employees almost always work better when they have valuable incentives to work for. These incentives don’t have to be lucrative; sometimes, even an extra perk like flexible hours, or something simple like going out for lunch could be incentive enough to put in the extra effort. Incentives provide a degree of extrinsic motivation, but also make employees feel like they’re appreciated.
4. Collect data on everything. If you’re running an internal call center or working with an outsourced call center, make sure you collect data on everything. Pay close attention to how long each call takes, how each call develops, and the outcomes (ideally in terms of dollar value) of each call. The more data you collect, the more conclusions you’ll be able to draw. From there, you can adjust your process and gradually tweak them to be more efficient or more profitable. Make sure you make regular reports, so you can stay up-to-date and see exactly when your figures improve or decline.
5. Break down departmental silos. Departmental silos can be problematic for most call centers. If your call center employees are isolated from other departments, they may not have a good internal understanding of how your business works, and may not be able to articulate things accurately to your customers and prospects. If you have an internal call center team, it’s a good idea to invest in cross-training, and prevent operational silos from forming. If you’re outsourcing the work, you can provide more details about your business so there’s less confusion to interfere with your results.
6. Instill strong leadership. Teams universally do better under a strong leader, so it pays to invest heavily in your call center managers. A good manager will be able to motivate your employees to do their best while simultaneously empathizing with them to make them feel better supported; after all, working in a call center is a stressful and, at times, demanding job. Vet your leadership candidates intensively, and monitor their performance to make sure they’re leading the team efficiently.
7. Keep trying new things. Try to experiment with changes and novel approaches in every area of the call center. If you choose and stick with just one approach, you’ll never even know if there’s a more efficient approach worth taking. If you diversify your approach, you’ll get much more information on which angles work and which ones don’t. Of course, this depends on you collecting data on everything, so you can make an objective analysis, rather than forming a subjective opinion.
Rewarding the Right Mindset
Your call center will run much smoother when all your employees are invested in seeing better results. Do what you can to foster an entrepreneurial mentality in the people making your calls, whether that means hiring more selectively, providing better incentives, or outsourcing the work to a team that’s already invested in seeing positive outcomes.