What is call centre management?

Call centre management is the way businesses manage call centre operations such as employee training, scheduling, hiring and customer interactions.

Businesses with call centres need to balance customer satisfaction and employee empowerment so that customers are happy and employees have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Call centre management is what helps companies strike that balance by helping improve the right business operations and communications. Some of the key operations that are included in call centre management are:

  • Customer service
  • Technical support
  • Employee training and engagement on the job
  • Scheduling and managing the workforce
  • Outbound calling and lead list management
  • Analysis of call centre data and performance in real time
  • The “call flow” design (or how a call moves through the call centre)
  • Customer service automation

The call centre management focuses on these daily operations that help supervisors develop, implement and streamline customer and agent interactions in both inbound and outbound communications.

A call centre can be a busy place and operating a call centre includes many processes. But when considering how a call centre works, there are two main types of communication that take place: inbound and outbound calls.

Inbound call centre

An inbound call is where the customer reaches out to the call centre. When the customer reaches out, a call centre agent will take the call and begin helping the customer work through the problem to find a resolution. If the resolution is not satisfactory for the customer, the agent may reach out again through an effective communication channel to work through the problem. But in most cases, inbound call centres and inbound calls involve the customer contacting you rather than your agents reaching out to them.

Outbound call centre

An outbound call centre is when the call centre agent reaches out to a customer initially. For example, the agent might call about a new product or service available that could interest the customer or may be interested in acquiring feedback about a recent experience. When the agent calls, they’ll make their goals known to the customer early on, so the customer can decide what action to take.

Call centres can handle both outbound and inbound communication. Some call centres also choose to separate both the inbound and outbound workforces. However the company structure looks, call centre management can help optimise the way the call centre runs and the success of customer and agent interactions.

Call centres can be an important part of your business, and they can help provide key benefits to your company. Key benefits of a call centre include:

  • Providing a single source of customer service data
    Data helps you determine action, so having a singular point for customer service data helps you quickly locate essential information and analyse it to improve your operations.
  • Delivering a better overall customer experience
    Call centres and call centre management can’t promise perfect customer interactions, but they can help improve overall customer experiences. When agents have all the context they need to understand a customer’s situation, they are better able to provide a good experience and satisfactory resolution.
  • Implementing automation when possible
    Automation can help streamline processes and doing so in a call centre environment may be extremely beneficial in terms of scaling.

Every call centre is unique, but there are some best practices that can help make call centre management a more effective and efficient process. These include the following:

Provide comprehensive training and onboarding

Once you choose your candidates for a job, it is important to give them the tools they need to succeed and to provide a positive experience for your customers and potential customers. Having a thorough training and onboarding process can help your agents develop good habits for handling calls from the start and can provide them with a thorough understanding of their resources and responsibilities.

After training, agents should feel better prepared to handle a variety of customer calls. These training sessions can also be a place for you to help strengthen employee weaknesses early on and potentially mitigate any hiring mistakes.

Ensure proper scheduling

Without proper scheduling in place, working at a call centre can quickly become overwhelming. This especially holds true in small call centres where there are too few employees to handle the workload and to dedicate time to high quality calls. Proper scheduling can help make workloads manageable and keep your agents from feeling overwhelmed.

Proper scheduling needs to include breaks for your employees to recharge and sufficient time in between shifts to avoid feeling overworked. Creating an effective schedule includes balancing peak hours, agent abilities, agent availability, breaks, time between shifts, and other similar considerations.

Apply data to make sound decisions

Data is the foundation of a modern company and an effective call centre. Call centres primarily gather customer service data, and this data can be valuable to better understanding your customers and gaining insight into their behaviours. To use data to make important decisions, you need to choose important metrics to understand. Some of these could include net promoter score, average handling time and first call resolution rate. This data can help you make sound decisions for your call centre, employees and customers.

Use customer feedback to reduce churn rates

While call centre metrics are valuable, they don’t show the whole picture. The missing piece is customer feedback and response. Successful call centres have a strong understanding of their customers, and they gain this with customer feedback. The goal of feedback is to allow you to hear the voice of your customers and to know what they really need and value.

You can gather customer feedback through reviews and opinions. But it’s also powerful to ask customers directly for feedback. Surveys—on the phone, through email, or via social media—can be an excellent way to gather customer feedback.

Invest in technology

Managing your call centre requires investment in technology that provides your team with the right tools to succeed. Your agents could be the best in the industry, but if they don’t have technology that can help them make successful calls and complement their own skill sets, it can be difficult to create the environment you want.

The right technology will depend on your call centre and your company needs, but most companies need technology to make calls, manage scheduling and perform call centre management.

Cultivate a coaching culture

Call centre management is focused on striking a balance between customer satisfaction and empowering employees. A coaching culture is an effective way to develop the second half of that equation. When your employees coach each other, you can cultivate an atmosphere of continuous learning and growth — ultimately helping your employees reach their full potential.

Communicate with employees regularly

Agents are the front line of a call centre, so it’s important to communicate with them regularly. Meetings with individuals allow you to communicate your own expectations. These meetings also create an opportunity for you to hear from your employees. Agents often have the best view of what’s happening in your call centre, so they can provide insights you can’t find elsewhere. Open lines of communication are important to cultivate a positive company culture where employees feel understood and know that their supervisors value their opinions.

Balance workflow to meet demand

A call centre is a dynamic place where there could be too many calls or too few for your employees on shift. A key aspect of call centre management is a balanced workflow to ensure that there are enough employees to keep waiting times low and workloads manageable — as well as to ensure that there’s enough work for everyone. You can better understand your demands by reviewing your staffing and forecasting call volumes based on past data.

Measuring performance at a call centre is an important part of call centre management. These are some key metrics to watch to help you manage your operations smoothly.

First call resolution (FCR) rates

First call resolution rates tell you how many problems were resolved on the first phone call. This metric can be valuable in determining effectiveness because it shows that customers were able to find an effective solution quickly without having to turn to alternate channels of communication. There are two ways to measure FCR:

  • Gross FCR. This metric is found by dividing the total number of calls by how many were resolved on the first call. This metric doesn’t account for calls that could not possibly be solved in one call, which is why many companies prefer the second metric.
  • Net FCR. This metric subtracts the number of calls that cannot be resolved in only one phone call from the total number of calls before dividing it by the number of calls that were resolved on the first interaction.

Average handling time (AHT)

The average handling time includes the amount of time an agent spends handling customer issues, including waiting time during the call. It is calculated by adding talk time and hold time and after-call work, and then dividing that by the total number of calls. A low AHT is not always a good indicator of success, so it’s important to consider this metric as part of the bigger picture.

Net promoter score (NPS)

Net promoter score is how likely your customers are to recommend you to someone else. The best way to measure this is to present customers with a survey question such as, “On a scale of 1–10, how likely are you to recommend this agent to a friend or colleague?” Break results into positive promoters, detractors and passive customers. You then subtract the total percentage of detractors from promoters. A NPS above 50% is considered positive.

Customer satisfaction score (CSat)

The goal of a call centre is to provide a satisfactory experience for your customers. You can measure customer satisfaction with a particular agent by having customers take a survey after a call where they rate their experience on a scale of 1–10. The CSat is then calculated by dividing the total score an agent received by the total number of surveys.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer effort score measures how much effort a customer has to put in to interact with your company. It is also how easy it was for their problem to be solved by your representatives. To calculate the CES, you need to survey your customers based on their experience. A Likert scale or even emoticon rating system can help you calculate the sum of your customer ratings. You then divide that by the total number of surveys collected. Ideally, the CES will skew towards whichever end of your scale shows the least amount of effort expended by customers.

Proper call centre management requires a complete understanding of the roles and responsibilities in a call centre.

Call centre manager

A call centre manager oversees the centre, evaluates customer needs, determines performance standards and identifies areas to improve customer experience. The primary responsibilities of the manager include:

  • Creating and updating training material
  • Hiring agents and supervisors
  • Developing HR policies
  • Selecting software and tools for the call centre
  • Setting goals and evaluating success

Call centre supervisor

A call centre supervisor monitors, trains and supports agents and helps them with customer interactions. They carry out the manager’s strategies. Their key responsibilities include:

  • Training and onboarding
  • Monitoring agent calls in real time
  • Task management
  • Agent scheduling
  • Reviewing call transcripts
  • Evaluating agent performance

Call centre agent

A call centre agent is the representative on the call who speaks to customers and helps them resolve problems. They carry out all instructions from supervisors and managers and they are the front line of the call centre. Key agent responsibilities include:

  • Making outbound calls
  • Taking orders or payments over the phone
  • Providing updates on product shipping
  • Collecting customer survey responses
  • Updating customer account information
  • Providing live customer service assistance

Call centres are dynamic and powerful resources for a company. Effectively managing a call centre helps optimise the customer experience and employee empowerment. To optimise your call centre management and to improve your customer experience, trust ServiceNow.

ServiceNow Customer Service Management (CSM) uses the power and connectivity of the award-winning Now Platform® to automate requests and provides agents with a single workspace and tools to resolve issues faster — so you can provide an effortless experience for your customers. CSM is designed to help businesses reduce costs while delivering seamless customer service experiences.

Take control of the call centre management process and give customers the easy, personalised interactions they need from your call centre. Learn more about Customer Service Management from ServiceNow and help your new customers find success with your call centre.

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