Call center optimization tips

Looking for call center optimization tips? Here are the top tips for self service, quality assurance, agent productivity, security.

Categorized as Contact Center, Guides

Top tips for call center optimization

  1. Use a cloud contact center software for call center optimization
  2. Allow customer self service for call center optimization
  3. Optimize self service by connecting to your CRM / internal systems
  4. Call center optimization for quality assurance
  5. Call center optimization for agent productivity
  6. Call center optimization for security
  7. Call center optimization for outbound
  8. Call center optimization for workforce management

Use a cloud contact center software for call center optimization

We use Amazon Connect Contact center software in our turnkey call center teams. Other really good options include Microsoft, Twilio, NICE, Bright Pattern, TalkDesk, RingCentral etc.

  • Most businesses can save a bundle (sometimes, up to 80%) by moving their customer support to a cloud Contact Center. 
  • Scaling up – You can support a lot more customers without having to hire additional staff. 
  • Set up is a lot faster with cloud contact center without having to purchase hardware + licenses. Implementing an on-premise call center can take up to several months.
  • Operational expenses increase, capital expenses reduce – Ongoing costs include a monthly subscription for cloud contact centers. Meanwhile, on premise contact centers require a larger up front investment.
  • Full feature-set – Cloud contact centers have all the traditional features of an on premise contact center software. In addition, they have advanced technologies to feature live call monitoring, smart IVR, click-to-call, artificial intelligence, automated call summaries, integration with SMS, fax, email, social media and more.
  • On-premise call centers have more stable technology to help eliminate call lag or lower call quality. However, cloud call centers offer a lot more integrations with systems, plus can have high call quality at strong, reliable internet connections.

Allow customer self service for call center optimization

You can reduce human labor costs in your call center by creating an advanced, well integrated self service system. All call center software comes built in with this capability – some more advanced than others.

Forrester Research shows that it costs $6-$12 to service a customer with live chat, vs 25c to service the same customer via self-service. According to NICE “45% of companies offering self-service showed reduced phone inquiries”.

Here are the top tips for introducing self service into your call center to further reduce call center costs.

  1. Integrate and support multiple channels in your call center. These include Voice, Text, Email, Website Chat, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Google My Business messaging, Facebook messaging, Wechat etc. Co-locating all channels into a single panel for your call center agents boosts productivity tremendously.
  2. Create a next-gen IVR in your call center software. These days, with AI powered natural conversational capabilities allow for very advanced speech recognition and responses in your IVR. E.g Amazon Polly is a service that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing you to create applications that talk, and build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products. Use something like this in your IVR.
  3. Direct callers / encourage moving calls to messaging instead (e.g. web chat, text messaging, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Google Messaging etc.). This allows a single agent to service more customers in the same time as they can service one caller over the phone.
  4. Introduce and integrate conversational interfaces into your IVR using voice and text. We, for example, use Amazon Connect Contact Center Software – this allows us to introduce Conversational AI for Chatbots (leveraging Amazon Lex) to our customers. 
  5. Leverage the translation capabilities of your call center software to support multiple languages in your call center. The top call center software vendors keep adding language support regularly – E.g.  English, Chinese (Simplified or Traditional), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish etc. We use Amazon Translate for fast, high-quality, and affordable language translation.
  6. Always remind customers that they can connect with an agent at any point.

Optimize self service by connecting to your CRM / internal systems

Harvard Business Review found that 88% of U.S. customers expect organizations to offer a self-service support portal. Higher self service equals higher customer satisfaction, reduced staffing requirements. It might also reduce your telephony costs.

Self service would not bring the intended value if your customers always end up choosing the “connect to an agent” option. The only way to avoid this is to integrate your self service portal to your internal systems / CRM / EMR etc.

Here are the benefits of integrating your contact center software with various systems.

  1. You can avoid / reduce SPAM calls that waste 5-10 seconds per agent per call. To achieve this, you can integrate your call center software with your own or 3rd party identity systems. This will allow your call center software to assign a “nuisance score” to each incoming caller phone number – thereby dropping the call and saving you on telephony costs as well.
  2. You can personalize each customer’s experience by appending the caller’s identity to incoming calls. For each incoming call, do a data dip into your backend system to suggest caller identity. In case of calls from numbers that are not in your CRM system, you can leverage 3rd party identity APIs to identify the caller’s name/location etc. Thereafter, you can use this information for identifying fraudulent behavior or to reduce the amount of information your “new customer” has to provide you. 
  3. When a caller calls in, you can also deduce the intent of the call. E.g. callers with existing appointments call to either find out more about their appointment or to make changes to their appointments. Or the customer calls in to check the order status, claim status etc. Based on the caller’s upcoming appointments, you can offer them options to confirm their appointment, learn about their appointment, reschedule their appointment etc or speak to an agent to cancel their appointment. You can also check the progress of their customer intake and have them finish the rest of the intake process. You could offer them incentives, or wish them holiday greetings. There are no limits to what you can achieve in personalizing your patient’s experience.
  4. Offering knowledge base leveraged information to callers / customers can contribute significantly to self service as well. Whether your customer is connecting with you via messaging or voice, you can use the Natural-Language Processing (e.g Amazon Comprehend) along with the above mentioned tools to deduce the “intent” of the customer interaction. When you tie in your call center software to your internal knowledge base system (e.g. Amazon Connect Wisdom), this allows you to offer even higher levels of self service to your customers.
  5. Providing visual IVR to your customers allows you to further reduce the caller’s need to “speak to an agent”. “Phone only” self service IVRs can only go so far as they are driven by keying in digits via your mobile phone or desk phone. It is possible to do better than this with visual IVRs, therefore reducing average call handling time by a minimum of 45-60 seconds. You can introduce this option of self service in the IVR and allow the caller/customer to get an SMS or email to continue this self service via the visual IVR web link.
  6. Use customer profiles or a CRM to equip contact center agents with a 360 degree / unified view of a customer’s profile with the most up to date information. This helps call center agents provide more personalized customer service. Amazon Connect Customer Profiles allows you to do this. You can also tie in your own CRM to achieve something similar to this.

Call center optimization for quality assurance

Quality assurance directly contributes to customer retention (by way of customer happiness). A large part of customer happiness is impacted directly by employee (call center agents) happiness – something that is often overlooked by many employers. 

Quality assurance requires your QA team (or person) to listen to high volumes of call recordings, analyze them for issues, and provide feedback to your call center agents. 

Here are call center optimization tips for quality assurance:

  1. Record calls for training purposes – With just a few clicks, all calls can be recorded. You can choose to record only the customer, your customer service representative or BOTH. 
  2. Leverage the power of automatic speech recognition (ASR) to convert speech to text quickly and accurately (e.g. Amazon Transcribe does this for you). You will have call transcripts created automatically for you. Since you have full call transcripts, your call center managers and agents can easily conduct full-text search while on calls. 
  3. Use natural language processing (NLP) and ML-powered speech-to-text-analytics to discover insights and identify agent coaching opportunities. Amazon Connect Contact Lens allows you to do this. Instead of depending on post call analytics, move towards creating rules in your call center software to perform call sentiment analysis in real time. This also allows you to alert call center managers about angry callers, unpleasant agents, non-compliance to company standards etc.
  4. Reserve quality assurance staff time for items that AI (e.g. Amazon Connect Contact Lens) was unable to perform or to oversee the work of AI. This reduces the costly staff overhead for your call center.

Call center optimization for agent productivity

Here are tips to reduce call center costs w.r.t after call work

  1. Use AI in your contact center software (e.g. Amazon Connect Contact Lens). You can alleviate some of the tedious work of disposing of calls. This way, you can automatically categorize contacts based on words uttered during the call. 
  2. Create call summaries automatically by using the same AI tools. This way, your call center agents do not spend time and energy in summarizing each and every call.  Amazon Connect Contact Lens uses ML for call summarization. This also automatically identifies key parts of the customer conversation, assigns tags to each call / parts of the conversation.
  3. AI and Machine Learning (ML) can also automatically identify post call task creation on your behalf. This way your agents do not have to waste time by manually creating follow up tasks / work for each call. 
  4. Use a CRM to ensure that your call center agents have a much better view of the customer and their past interactions with your brand. We use Amazon Connect Customer Profiles for this. Make sure that your agents can see a combination of  contact history information (e.g. number of holds, call transcripts, customer sentiment, messaging history, case history etc.). This should also tie in with customer information such as phone number, address, and last or current order status from your internal applications.

Call center optimization for security

  1. Use AI and machine learning (e.g. Amazon Connect Contact Lens) to redact sensitive information from call recordings / call transcripts. This way you can automatically detect sensitive data such as name, address, SSN and remove / hide them.
  2. Use real-time caller authentication for fraud risk detection. This requires leveraging machine learning and voice analysis. Our call center service uses Amazon Connect Voice ID for this. By using voice id, our call center agents no longer have to authenticate callers / customers using personal details, like SSN, DOB etc.
  3. Use HIPAA eligible services to store your call recordings, call transcripts. We use Amazon Web Services for this.

Call center optimization for outbound

Outbound calls (e.g. for telemarketing or otherwise) takes up a lot of resources (time and expenses). Most advanced call center companies use dialers to reduce the overheads.

Here are call center optimization tips for outbound calls.

  1. Use a dialer software – this can be a progressive dialer or a predictive dialer (whichever you are comfortable with). We use Amazon Connect Outbound Campaigns for this. 
  2. For some of our customers, we use a progressive dialer. This simply autodials numbers on behalf of our agents. We use this for automated appointment reminders, follow-up calls for customer no-shows, calls to schedule appointments with no show customers or customers that canceled their appointments or patients that have fallen out of care, a first-time contact initiated from an online one-click call button or “contact us form”, or our community outreach cold calls as well.
  3. For some other customers (telemarketing and lead generation), we use predictive dialers. This increases our call center agents’ productivity because they don’t wait for a successful connection. Amazon Connect’s ML-powered answering machine and human voice detection helps us ensure that we spend time only on live calls.
  4. Leverage answering machine detection (AMD). We use Amazon Connect’s machine learning powered AMD. This way, we can decide whether we stop the call upon detecting an answering machine or if we continue leaving a voicemail.
  5. TCPA compliance is important – specially for outbound call center campaigns. We leverage Amazon Connect Outbound Campaigns for this. It allows us to check (in real time) TCPA regulations for time of day controls, time zone related controls, the max number of attempts we are allowed per contact, and time required to connect to an available agent once the customer picks up the phone.
  6. Leverage autodialing numbers, push 1 to talk to the agent. This allows you to use natural speech for personalized voice notes to be delivered to your customers (e.g. appointment reminders) in addition to giving your customers a choice to contact an agent for further assistance.
  7. Many call center software provide you the ability to provision and de-provision phone numbers on demand. Leverage this for dynamically setting outbound numbers in your call center. Customers tend to pick up calls from local numbers more than inbound calls from toll free numbers and from out of state numbers.
  8. Outbound campaigns often contain texting, emailing, calling – 3 different channels (to say the least). Leverage your call center software’s capabilities to combine cross-channel voice, SMS, and email communications. We use Amazon Connect outbound campaigns for this.

Call center optimization for workforce management

Call center workforce optimization is a hot topic – and justly so, because this affects agent productivity, helps reduce call center costs, increase customer satisfaction, and streamline processes. 

Here are top call center optimization tips for workforce management

  1. Use machine learning for forecasting, capacity planning and call center agent scheduling. Many leading call center software providers already have this functionality built in – use it. E.g. Amazon Connect optimization makes it easy for call center managers to predict call / contact volumes. On top of this, it helps you understand average handle time. Understanding these two, helps you determine ideal staffing levels, and optimize agent schedules.
  2. Leverage the same ML-powered capacity planning functionality of your call center software to estimate how many full-time equivalent (FTE) agents are needed. You need to meet your customer’s service level goals based on these forecasts. 
  3. Staffing with the right number of FTEs alone does not solve the task at hand. You also need to ensure that you have the right agents for the forecasted calls. Make sure to leverage the skills based routing capabilities of your call center software to guarantee customer satisfaction. Using ML powered agent scheduling, you can have the right agents at the right time to support customer contacts.