Love them or loath them, call centres are a fact of life nowadays. Looking at them from a business standpoint, they are an essential component of a cost-effective and efficient customer service environment. VoIP for Business makes implementation a practical proposition, even for the smallest business.
However, the quality of service delivered to the customer can make or break a relationship. A high-level customer experience is the goal. When, for example, they hear “You are number 47 in the queue”, they will hang up and not call back. The tone and style of the interaction with the agent are vital.
That is where planning the interaction and why inbound and outbound call monitoring is essential. It usually takes the form of a call centre quality monitoring programme. Knowing service levels and their quality is not just metrics.
Effective CRM using VoIP for Business is the balancing of agent efficiency and service quality.
First of all, what is call monitoring? It’s the listening in on agent and customer interactions and the recording of them for later analysis. “Your call may be recorded for quality purposes”.
The upsides of call monitoring are both qualitative and quantitative. Measurement of response rates and customer attitudes tells you if waiting times are acceptable. This assists with resource planning. Customer attitudes also tell you if assistance is effective and if an agents performance is acceptable.
On the downside, agents and customers might feel that call monitoring violates their privacy, indicating a lack of trust in the case of employees. If they feel it is too intrusive, it could affect employee retention. It can affect morale and productivity. Finally, under-resourced call centres leading to long wait times will definitely have lower customer satisfaction levels.
Here are five Best Practices for Call Monitoring in a VoIP for Business environment.
In a customer-facing environment, agents at the coal-face must have a high-quality interaction with customers. That comes from an understanding of the company’s products and services and how to correct common problems. A good understanding of the psychology of how to deal with possibly difficult customers is essential.
This means that training is needed in both aspects, and not just as induction training. Reinforcement training will be needed at regular intervals. Defined policies and procedures are essential.
Part of the training will be to give the agent an understanding of why call monitoring is a vital part of an overall service management programme.
A common misconception is that call monitoring is the sole responsibility of the call centre manager. The manager will be focussing on other responsibilities such as customer retention strategies and probably can’t devote enough time to the monitoring of individual agents.
That is where a task force can help. A task force is a group of senior agents who will act on behalf of the manager, designing and implementing processes and monitoring service levels. They are the group that will deliver the reinforcement training sessions. Call monitoring will be an essential part of evaluating the success, or otherwise, of the customer experience.
We are often aware that an agent works to a pre-determined script, particularly in a sales environment. They usually set the tone for a customer’s interaction with the organisation, setting a standard for service delivery. Scripts need to have a clear introduction, setting out the purpose of the interaction and defining the tone. They should create a connection with the customer and establish a rapport. Closing the call with courtesy is also important.
Call monitoring is needed to ensure that agents are sticking to the script, and if they deviate have a good reason for doing so.
Allowing agents to review their previous interactions with customers has significant benefits. It demonstrates trust, and they can see where they may need to advance, for example, their communications skills. Their soft skills and confidence will improve.
Research shows that organisations that invest in education and professional development do better.
Call Monitoring Software
Call monitoring is labour intensive, and in large organisations that means that only a small number of interactions can be monitored. That isn’t a large enough sample to give a true reflection of agent performance.
Call monitoring software has improved greatly in recent years. The use of AI, fuzzy logic, and machine learning has expanded the capabilities of call monitoring.
A software application that will help greatly is speech analytics. It will analyse all incoming and outgoing calls involving an agent. At an individual level, it will identify patterns where an agent has difficulties with providing a high level of service. At a macro-level, it will identify where customers have common or similar issues. Overall, it will allow much more effective management and refinement of operational practices.