Improving Call Center Performance: 12 Essential Tips

June 7, 2022
A cheerful woman in a headset is working at her computer in a bright office with colleagues in the background.

Improving the customer experience should be a top priority for most consumer-facing businesses. While there are fundamental differences between customer service teams, call centers, and contact centers – they share the goal of delivering a positive customer experience.

So when it comes to these departments, how can you boost agent productivity and efficiency to leave a positive lasting impression on your customers?

We’ve put together 12 essential tips to help improve your call center performance.

1. Build a sense of community

A strong community and culture within your call center team are essential for maintaining strong morale and motivation. It ensures your team communicates well with each other and on behalf of your customers. Even when customer interactions get challenging, a sense of camaraderie will make it easier to navigate.

Community also fosters a sense of purpose among contact center agents. Call centers tend to experience high levels of turnover, ranging from 30 to 45% every year. A strong community can help improve turnover and keep morale high, even when there are departures.

2. Gamify the call center experience

 A little friendly competition can help drive high performance and engagement within your call center team. Gamify the day-to-day operations with fun challenges like leaderboards or ‘agent of the day’ competitions.

By introducing a competitive approach, either individually or as a team, you can achieve increased motivation and productivity within your contact center.

3. Offer the right incentives

It is no secret that employees are motivated by incentives. In the contact center world, the right incentives are what drive your agents  to perform their best and deliver a better customer experience.

For example, Agents Only offers a unique way to build incentives amongst your agent pool. Utilizing data, AI, and a proprietary rating system, agents are “star-rated” (™) at the end of every client interaction. These ratings serve two purposes; first, they affect the overall compensation earned on the call. The higher the rating, the higher the compensation. Second, they serve to continuously rank agents amongst their peers. Agents with higher ratings receive more calls, thereby increasing their chances to make more money.

4. Prioritize training

Without proper training and opportunities for upskilling, your team will never be as effective as they can be. Continuous training helps agents navigate the ever-changing customer landscape.

In the US, 59% of customers indicate they’d stop doing business with a brand after several bad experiences - meaning there’s no room for consistent errors. Over time, poor levels of training can amplify these common problems. By prioritizing training, you can improve areas of opportunity and provide a more seamless experience for your customers.

5. Optimize workflows 

Lean into AI or call center software to help optimize your call center operations. This can help route calls to the right agents and remove mundane calls (or calls with common problems that can be solved without an agent) from the queue.

This way, your agents are spending time on call resolutions they’re best qualified to solve. It is of the utmost importance that your contact center agents feel appropriately challenged and like they’re making a difference.

Optimizing workflows can ultimately save you time and money by improving the efficiency of your call center.

6. Offer flexible scheduling

Call center agents often find themselves working long and awkward hours to help meet business needs. In fact, 74% of call center agents are at risk of burnout.

Flexible scheduling helps empower agents by giving them control of when they feel they can work best. Flexibility also helps foster work-life balance – which results in happier and more productive agents.

Where possible, aim to have agents set their own schedules. By empowering agents to set their own work hours, you can guarantee you’ll only have agents scheduled that are feeling 100% ready to work.

7. Implement simple technology 

Technology can be game-changing when it comes to contact center teams. It can help improve workflows and automate tasks. However, complicated technology can often slow the pace down and cause roadblocks for your agents. Software and technology that is more complicated to use can ultimately cost your team time and energy. It can also lead to frustration and an overall deterioration in performance in your agents.

8. Provide consistent coaching and feedback

Providing constructive feedback is one of the best ways to foster continuous improvement in your teams. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, it will help your agents identify areas of improvement.

The best way to ensure positive results is by giving direct feedback through ratings or comments immediately after every shift. This consistent feedback cycle means you’ll see continuous improvement in your agents over time.

As a leader, also make sure to deliver more than just constructive criticism. Make sure to also celebrate the wins and successes so your team feels valued and appreciated.

9. Analytics

While customer experience is a top priority for customer service teams, your analytics can help paint a better picture of your team’s performance. Use call monitoring and track metrics like productive time, customer satisfaction (CSAT), and average response times to identify gaps and areas of improvement.

There are endless ways to tweak your analytics. Ultimately, you will need to find the right metrics that work with your unique use case. However, it is vital that you maintain a process for re-evaluating your metrics periodically. As your customer needs and expectations shift, so too should your analytics.

10. Invest in better call quality

Whether your agents are located in the office or at home, call quality should be a top priority. Poor call quality is not only frustrating for the agent but results in a poor customer experience.

By improving call quality, your contact center agents will feel more confident in their interactions, resulting in better performance.

11. Payout frequently

Instead of following traditional payroll cycles, pay your agents more frequently. Frequent payouts keep your team more incentivized and motivated. The formula is pretty simple:  agents who are compensated fairly, quickly, and on-time make for happy agents. Happy agents make for happy customers. Happy customers are really the only objective!

12. Empower agents to choose projects that they want to work on

Like any other employee, your agents want to feel valued. In fact, most unmotivated or unproductive employees are just looking for a sense of purpose in their role.

Allow your team to work on projects where they feel they can provide the most value. You’ll find your agents will be more engaged and more likely to deliver results. A study found that highly-engaged employees are 17% more productive than their less engaged counterparts.

Help empower agents to find something they’re passionate about and really lean into it!

13. (Bonus) Offer a path to growth

Entry-level customer service roles experience high turnover and low employee satisfaction. Why? Employees often find themselves stuck in a rut without opportunities for growth and development.

Offering your teams support and career advancement opportunities will ensure that they’re more motivated and satisfied in their current role.

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