Boost your bottom line by taking care of your call centre agents

Customer experience (CX) isn’t just a buzzword or a nice-to-have; it’s a business strategy that can make or break a company. Seriously — McKinsey & Company found that by improving the customer journey, brands see their revenue rise between 10 to 15 per cent, while cutting back the cost of serving customers by 15 to 20 per cent.

The traditional aspects of in-person CX are quite obvious — the signage, the decor, and a friendly face ready to answer every conceivable question. Of course, those long-held touchstones were quickly made somewhat redundant during the pandemic, and so call centres became the invisible “face” of countless companies.

In other words, the customer experience is now often led by the call centre. This has been a boon for many organisations — but it does come with certain challenges. Namely, how to keep those all-important call centre agents engaged and happy. After all, they are the ones who directly interact with customers, and their moods can be contagious.

In the past, a bad call centre experience might be dismissed by a customer if their previous interactions with a company had been good. But in the current climate, where a call centre might be the primary point of contact, and social media can quickly turn a customer into a powerful brand advocate — or detractor — that is no longer the case.

Add to that the complexities of a call centre that are required to serve every single facet of customer service with just a voice, and it’s no wonder 87% of call centre agents report high-stress levels. It requires no stretch of the imagination to suggest that their stress could affect your bottom line, so it’s more important than ever to focus on the well-being of call centre agents. Here are four ways to do that.

1. Dial a mile in their shoes

It’s all too easy to dismiss the work of a call centre agent as relatively simple and low-stress. After all, they’re just sitting in a cubicle talking to people, right?

In reality, a call centre agent’s job is complex and often thankless. They must be knowledgeable about every facet of your company and product or service, as well as the competition. They need to build rapport quickly, understand the customer’s needs, and diffuse anger — sometimes all in the space of a single call.

The best way to understand what your call centre agents are dealing with is to experience it for yourself. Sit in on a few calls, or even better, take some calls yourself. This will give you first-hand experience of their challenges, and help you come up with solutions, not to mention build empathy for what they do.

2. Turn on tech to turn off stress

Call centres are notorious for going from hours of inactivity and boredom to being swamped with calls with very little notice. This can be stressful for call centre agents, especially if they are not given the proper tools to manage the influx.

Investing in technology that can help to even out the flow of calls — such as an AI-powered call routing system — can take some of the pressure off your call centre agents. These systems can also pre-load relevant customer information for the call centre agent to read before they even answer the call, empowering them to provide a better service.

AI can also forecast demand throughout the day so you can have the right call centre agents with the right skills staffed when you need them. This will help tremendously with understaffing, reducing stress for your call centre agents and customers.

In many cases, AI bots can be integrated with your website’s FAQs, empowering your customers to answer their own questions without even needing to talk to a call centre agent. That’s a win-win-win for your brand, your customer, and your call centre agents.

3. Give guidelines for recognition

Study after study says that even the simplest form of recognition improves engagement, productivity, and performance. You don’t need to open your wallets and inflate your overheads either — thoughtful written or verbal expressions of gratitude will go further than you think.

Of course, recognition is not a one-size-fits-all affair. What works for one call centre agent might not work for another. So it’s important to give your call centre agents guidelines on what type of recognition they should be aiming for.

You can best align your recognition strategies with the KPIs built into your call centre software. That way, you can be sure that your call centre agents are being recognised for activities that are benefiting your company.

4. Encourage a healthy work-life balance

There’s more to life than work, and call centre agents are no exception. In fact, they may need even more encouragement to take care of themselves outside of work hours, given the high-pressure but sedentary nature of their jobs.

Encourage your call centre agents to take their full lunch breaks and step away from their stations when required. With current tech, you can also give every call centre agent the option to work from home. This will allow them to create a better work-life balance, which has been shown to lead to increased productivity.

You can also give your call centre agents the ability to self-select their preferred hours from a list of pre-approved options, or even apply for time off or extra hours within the same system. This will give them more control over their work-life balance, and make it easier for you to manage.

By implementing these steps, you’ll go a long way to creating the most important call centre component of all — a robust and positive culture that will directly impact your bottom line.

It’s probably not lost on you that many of these initiatives rely on robust technology solutions, so be sure to partner with a company that can provide you with the right tools for the job.

If you’d like to learn more about how AI, machine learning, and cloud centre call solutions can help your call centre agents improve your CX execution, please contact us. We’d be more than happy to help you find out how your call centre operations can be improved for bottom-line-boosting CX.