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Today’s contact centers face many challenges: rising software costs, elevated employee turnover rates, and sky-high customer expectations. Even with the growing popularity of customer self-service, 61% of companies now report an increase in overall call volume.[*]

Effective contact center optimization helps businesses meet increasing customer and agent demands while lowering operating costs.

Here, we discuss what exactly contact center optimization is, its benefits, and how an optimized call center improves the customer experience.

 

What is Contact Center Optimization?

Contact center optimization is a set of strategies designed to improve overall call center operations, the customer experience, and agent engagement rates. An optimized contact center provides efficient and consistent customer service across voice and digital channels–throughout the entire customer journey.

Call center optimization takes a customer-centric, holistic approach to CX by evaluating and improving agent performance, self-service options, call routing flows, employee training, reporting and analytics, and more.

 

The Benefits of Contact Center Optimization

The business benefits of optimizing contact center operations are:

 

Improved Agent Experience

Contact center optimization means your contact center is appropriately staffed, with more agents working during peak call times so that employees don’t get overwhelmed or burnt out.

Another part of contact center optimization is appropriate software, ensuring that agents can handle all of their tasks on one dashboard without having to switch between applications or devices.

Additionally, optimized contact centers allow agents to work from home, which most workers prefer.[*]

 

Reduced Operating Costs

Optimizing your contact center reduces operating costs by:

  • Optimizing employee schedules based on call volume to eliminate overstaffing/understaffing and shorten call queues
  • Leveraging customer self-service solutions to free up live agents and entirely automate basic or routine support requests
  • Using cloud-based CCaaS solutions makes it easier to transition agents to remote work, lowering equipment/hardware costs, eliminating the need for a physical office, and giving agents more autonomy
  • Providing agents with AI-powered support features, like Agent Assist and automated workflows, results in less employee turnover and shortens average handle time (AHT)

 

Higher Customer Satisfaction

Modern customers expect the brands they do business with to provide efficient, friendly, and personalized support. 70% of consumers now expect the agents they interact with to have access to the full context of the interaction.[*]

Contact center optimization increases customer satisfaction by:

  • Leveraging tools like CTI screen pops and Agent Assist to give agents in-conversation access to essential CRM data, internal knowledge base documentation, notes from additional agents, account history, and more Providing omnichannel support so that customers can interact on the channels they are most comfortable using
  • Reducing wait times and call queues
  • Offering customer self-service
  • Offering automated customer callbacks so customers don’t have to wait on hold
  • Implementing automated CSAT and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys and making improvements accordingly

 

Better Insights Into Business Performance

Reporting and analytics are a large part of contact center optimization. With advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and NLP, companies can easily track business performance and ensure goals are being met.

AI-powered CCaaS platforms not only provide constant real-time monitoring of key performance indicators, but they can also track keywords, customer sentiment, recurring customer issues, and even offer suggested next steps. This enables supervisors to obtain actionable business insights at a glance.

 

Boosted Agent Productivity

Contact center optimization generally includes several automation tools, such as automated call summaries, follow-up scheduling, and task assignments. These tools allow agents to focus less on tedious manual busy work and more on making genuine, meaningful customer connections.

Gamification tools like leaderboards and reward systems boost agent motivation, productivity, and overall job satisfaction rates.

 

Contact Center Optimization Strategies

There are many ways to optimize contact center performance. Here are some of the best strategies.

 

Monitor Contact Center Metrics

Whatever is monitored improves, and monitoring key metrics in your contact center is a great place to start as it will inform you where the greatest weaknesses in your contact center are. Most CCaaS platforms include automatic and around-the-clock call center monitoring with customizable reports and alerts.

Important call center metrics to track include:

  • Average handle time: Average length of time that agents spend interacting with customers in order to resolve an issue
  • Average time on hold: The average length of time callers spend waiting for an agent
  • Customer satisfaction: Collects and analyzes customer feedback from surveys
  • Queue and abandonment rates: Percentage of calls that are abandoned by the customer
  • First call resolution rate (FCR): Percentage of calls that are resolved during the first interaction
  • Call trends: Identifies peak call times, common issues, popular IVR choices, most used communication channel, etc.
  • Customer loyalty: Divides the total of return customers by the total number of customers to get a percentage of repeat customers

 

Train and Coach Agents

For call center agents to be productive, they must be fully trained. But agent training programs can be expensive and time-consuming, especially during a period of rapid growth.

Supervisors can streamline the onboarding process by building a comprehensive knowledge base, using generative AI tools to create call scripts, and creating playlists of call recordings to demonstrate dos and don’ts. On-demand videos and screen recordings are also helpful.

Call monitoring tools such as Listen, Whisper, and Barge give new agents a chance to practice on live phone calls with supervision and intervention when necessary.

 

Use Call Center Gamification

Call center gamification tools have been shown to increase employee engagement, improve retention rates, and make work more satisfying and enjoyable. Gamification is becoming more popular in call centers and the global gamification market is projected to surpass 116.68 billion by 2032.[*]

Gamification platforms enable supervisors to select which agent metrics to track (such as conversion rates, first contact resolution rate, upsells, etc.) and then create a leaderboard and reward system to entice employees with friendly competition.

 

Improve the Quality of Service

Providing quality service is essential for businesses in every industry. Over 58% of customers have stated that they are willing to pay higher prices to receive better customer support.[*]

To improve the quality of service, start with a clear strategy and a list of best practices for agents. Next, interactions should be monitored across communication channels using recording software and speech analytics tools. After enough data has been collected, you will be able to see where improvements can be made, such as updating IVR systems, administering additional agent training, implementing self-service, etc.

 

Use Workforce Management and Optimization Tools

Adequately staffing call centers and managing employee schedules and time off requests is time-consuming and frustrating. Understaffing means a loss of productivity and a decline in the overall quality of customer service.

Workforce management and optimization tools automate this entire process by forecasting staffing needs based on call volume data, creating employee schedules, and enabling agents to submit time-off and trading requests virtually.

 

Automate Processes Where Possible

Contact center software platforms leverage generative AI and other technologies to automate repetitive and tedious processes that would otherwise be time-consuming for agents. Automations improve operational efficiency and relieve stress on live agents.

Common call center automation includes:

  • Call scheduling: Automatically schedule calls to customers when predetermined conditions are met such as a callback or website request
  • Chatbots: Text-based website chatbots interact with customers 24/7/365 to answer common questions and handle basic processes such as making payments and scheduling appointments
  • Automated emails and SMS messages: Sends out welcome messages, follow-ups, and promotional material automatically based on preset triggers
  • Call summaries: Automatically creates a summary for each customer interaction
  • Auto dialing tools: Automatically dials numbers on a call list and only connects an agent when a person answers
  • Task assignment: NLP identifies when an action item is brought up during or call or meeting (ex.: let’s meet next Tuesday) and automatically creates a task

 

Choose the Right Contact Center Software

Contact center technology is essential for optimization, but choosing the right solution for your business is key. There is a wide variety of platforms, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and pricing options.

Some things to consider when selecting a CCaaS solution:

  • Security and reliability: If your company needs a higher level of security and reliability, look for things like E2EE, HIPAA compliance, SSO, uptime service level agreements (SLAs), etc.
  • Price and value: When researching providers, it’s important to note not only the price per seat, but also what features are included in each plan, agent training and installation costs, necessary add-on features, and hidden taxes/fees
  • Scalability: If your company is planning to scale, make sure that you choose a provider that can accommodate the needs of larger call centers
  • Features: Make sure the provider you choose offers the features you need and includes them in the pricing plan you can afford
  • Hardware compatibility: If your contact center will use hardware such as desk phones and headsets, take a look at what brands your preferred provider is compatible with and if they include phones with contracts

 

A/B Test Contact Center Strategies

A/B testing, or split testing, allows contact centers to test out two different approaches to customer engagement and determine which one works best for their specific customer base.

Companies start by choosing two different strategies they want to test for effectiveness- for example, do customers prefer agents to use active listening or follow a structured script? A certain percentage of calls will be routed to agents following a script, while the rest will be routed to agents instructed to respond intuitively.

After collecting customer data through surveys and KPI reports, admins can measure the effectiveness of each strategy, gain insights, and determine the best course of action.

 

Use Performance Monitoring and Reporting

Monitoring call center performance is essential to consistent, high-quality support. Companies should first determine which metrics they are most concerned with, then set goals and benchmarks accordingly.

Scorecards can be used to enable supervisors to grade calls according to a list of relevant criteria, helping the company address problematic patterns quickly.

Some agent performance metrics to consider:

  • Effectiveness at problem-solving
  • Agent attitude and tone of voice
  • Overall competency
  • Employee engagement
  • Agent productivity

 

Adopt Omnichannel Listening

Omnichannel listening, or social listening, is a strategy to monitor the public opinion of your company along with industry trends and competitor analysis. Social listening creates a holistic view of who your audience is, what they want, and why.

Omnichannel listening tools automatically track any mentions of your brand as well as industry hashtags to identify frequently asked questions, common issues, preferences, and more so that you can adequately address specific customer needs.

 

Examples of Successful Contact Center Optimization

The ways in which contact center optimization can solve problems and improve service are endless. Here are a few use cases:

  • A healthcare provider began monitoring call center activity and found a high number of repeat calls occurring on a specific IVR path. Upon further investigation, the director of customer service learned that the majority of repeat callers were patients who requested a 90-day prescription but only received a 30-day prescription and had to call the company again. The healthcare provider added a step in the IVR flow to confirm the prescription length, thereby ensuring that patients received the correct prescription for the correct number of days on their first request.[*]
  • A health insurer had set a goal to increase customer self-service usage to reduce call volume and cut costs. The plan administrator determined that the reason most callers were requesting a live agent was because they wanted to confirm whether a specific doctor was covered in their PPO plan. The plan administrator worked with the IVR design team to build voicebots that were able to look up a doctor’s name and determine whether they were covered under the plan.[*]
  • An internet service provider (ISP) began monitoring IVR interactions and found that 30% of calls were related to router issues. All router-related calls were directed to the customer service department where an agent would walk the customer through a reboot, and if that didn’t work, the call was transferred to technical support. However, about half of these callers had already tried rebooting before calling, and therefore time was being wasted. With this insight, the call center manager worked with the IVR director to route customers who had initiated a device reboot in the past 24 hours directly to technical support. This initiative decreased AHT by 3% and agent transfers by 5%.[*]

 

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