Call Center Process

Fixing The Call Center Process

The call center process is the monster we sometimes encounter when attempting to get some information from a large corporation, or are seeking that company's help in resolving a problem. It's quite a different story than is the case when you call the local delicatessen or hardware store to see if they have an item you would like purchase, ask for the price, and even ask for advice or a recommendation. The call center process in this case is very much one-on-one, where the customer, and the salesman or shop owner, are more or less on the same page, and the retailer will usually be willing to stay on the line until the issue is settled, or else offer to call the customer back when things slow down a bit.

Where's Waldo? - Not the case when dialing into the call center of a large business, especially if it is a business with many different departments, or the call center is dedicated to giving advice on a wide range of products or services. It often starts with an automated voice (albeit a sometimes friendly one) giving you a range of menu options in an attempt to channel your particular issue to the right agent or the right recorded message. All usually goes well until you either are confronted with "other" as an option, or none of the options presented make sense. You've hit a dead end, and there's nothing to be done but go back to square one and try something different.

When you do finally reach a live human being on the other end of the line, the quality or lack thereof of the call center process usually becomes evident fairly quickly. If you're lucky, you're talking to the right person, a person that is eager to help, and can assist in getting the issue resolved in short order. If you're unlucky, your call has been outsourced to another country, which in itself isn't bad except the agent in that call center speaks rapidly and with an accent, and consequently is hard to understand. Occasionally you get an agent whose tone of voice means he or she could care less about your problem, or whose tone of voice and careful reading indicates it's that person's first day on the job, and he or she is scared stiff. Then there's the agent who all to quickly transfers your call, which often results in a few minutes wait, then silence, then back to dialing the 1-800 number you started with.

Call Centers, Low On The Totem Pole - What's wrong with the call center process most companies have? The short answer is plenty. The call center is there to provide customer service, but usually does not rank very high in a company's priorities. The agents are instructed to give the right answers in as short a time as possible. This puts them under a great deal of pressure. One of the major problems faced by the majority of call centers is that the more experienced agents, the best and brightest, all too often quit due to the pressure. The turnover rate more than almost anything else keeps a call center process from ever improving. Coaching or yelling doesn't help, nor do motivational slogans, especially when the workforce in a call center is primarily made up of newcomers.

Improve The Process Rather Than Simply Coach the Agents - The solution to the call center process problem isn't necessarily an easy one, but if the company involved works at incrementally improving the process and training the agents to follow the improved process, gains can be made. As long as companies insist of training and coaching the call center agents, while putting more and more pressure on them to keep their calls shorter and shorter, the outlook for call center process improvement is rather bleak.