Can your customers reach the services they need, when they need them?
In the time of pandemic many organizations are facing labor shortages. Contact centers as well are facing a lot of difficulty in managing quality and service levels. Contact centers are bound to maintain their service levels as this is what they do. They need to ensure that customers get the right quality of service at the right time. Yes, the quality of service delivered is what ultimately matters most; but, you can’t even get started until contacts get to the right places at the right times.
The following are important principles of managing contact center service levels. Revisiting and building them into both strategic and day-to-day operational decisions can help you navigate this challenging season. They’re keys to ensuring your center is both efficient and accessible:
Categorize contacts correctly
In simple words service level is defined as: “X percent of calls answered in Y seconds”. It is a concrete and stable objective for contacts that must be handled when they arrive. Response time is the related objective for contacts that don’t have to be handled at a specific time (e.g., email, social posts that do not have to be handled immediately, and others).
Differentiating between service level and response time is essential for two reasons. First, you need to divide the staff effectively to handle both the categories. Second, deferring work that doesn’t have to be handled as it arrives can provide much-needed breathing room. Yes, you have to manage it well and within customer expectations, but categorizing work and being smart about when you handle it can lead to much better results.
Apply appropriate staff calculations
Contact centers must be able to predict the traffic on calls and staff requirements should be done according to that. To calculate the staff required for customer queries that do not have to be handled when they arrive, you can generally use a more traditional approach to planning. For example, if you have 60 customer e-mail messages to process, and they require an average five minutes handling time, you have 300 minutes of workload to fit into staffing requirements.
Ensure service levels are in parity across contact channels
Being in parity in this context doesn’t necessarily mean being equal—e.g., it doesn’t mean you need to respond to email as fast as you answer calls. It does mean, however, operating within general customer expectations across contact channels. A customer who expects a reply to an email or social media post within a few hours but doesn’t get it may call. Similarly, if a customer ends up in an endless telephone queue, they may send an email or contact you through another channel. Assessing and meeting expectations across contact channels will keep your center in balance.
Manage service levels by increment (interval)
Daily, weekly, and monthly summary reports often conceal problem areas. Teach your team to think, plan, report, and manage in terms of what’s happening throughout the day. That is key to consistent performance.
Ensure that budgets reflect workload dynamics
Self-service is a great solution to divert traffic from calls. Today’s customers demand user-friendly self-service systems, as well as the means to reach well-informed and capable representatives when and as they need them. Yes, it’s important to do everything possible to provide and encourage customers to use automated support alternatives where they make sense, and, even better, prevent contacts all together through better, simpler, products and communication. However, it is important to be realistic about demand for agent-assisted services.
Support service levels with effective workload planning
Effective planning involves the totality of forecasting, staff and system calculations, scheduling and real-time management. The most successful contact centers have an established, systematic planning process; they revisit scheduling options often, involving their agents in the process. Also, good planning provides benefits far beyond schedules—it is a catalyst for collaboration across the organization that effective customer services require.
Since 1994, ZRG has been offering innovative and flexible solutions for multi-channel Contact Center, CTI, IVR, Call Recording, Complaint Desk, Ordering and Workflow Management needs. We have successfully delivered over 450+ Enterprise level projects to prestigious organizations in the banking and financial services, telecoms, insurance, courier, pharmaceutical and energy service industries in the national and international market. To discover how you can enhance customer satisfaction and improve team productivity in your organization, contact ZRG solutions team today.
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