Optimize Your Corporate Call Center

Does your company have a call center? Before you say “no,” let’s give this some careful consideration. You might have one (or more) call centers in your company and not even know it. Consider these areas that qualify as corporate call centers:

  • a team who fields phone calls
  • a group that handles customer emails
  • staff who answers the phone, takes messages, and transfers calls
  • any shared space where the phone rings
  • and more

In fact, any place where you have two or more people answering calls or handling customer-facing communications, you probably have a corporate call center. Why is this distinction important? Because there are a lot of tools and resources available to help call centers succeed and accomplish their work more effectively. But until you identify your internal communication teams as fitting into the definition of a call center, you will miss all the value these call center services have to offer. Training: Today’s customers have high expectations when they contact your company, and each year the bar gets higher. They want their call answered quickly and for the person who answers to solve their reason for calling on their first attempt. They want professional staff who are skilled at communicating over the phone (or through chat and email), and they hope for a positive experience that will wow them. These things don’t just happen. They require training, both initial new hire training and advanced ongoing training. Start with new agent training to cover the basics and then add enhanced skills training to round out your agents’ customer service excellence. Education: While training covers the practical day-to-day skills agents need, education provides relevant theory to grow as a communications professional. This includes phone etiquette, problem solving expertise, and conflict resolution skills. Even more basic is the proper way to answer and conclude a call. And without proper education, these skills seldom develop by themselves. Your staff requires intentional, outcome-oriented instruction. By educating your employees you equip them to apply relevant customer service concepts to their daily interaction with callers. This allows them the opportunity to really shine, and your customers will experience the difference. Leadership: The best people to run your call center, even a two-person operation, are people with call center experience. This means you need to promote from within, but too often this results in taking your best agent and turning him or her into an ineffective supervisor or manager. This doesn’t solve a thing. Instead it creates two problems: an open agent position to fill and an ineffective supervisor to replace. Instead, groom your most promising call center agents to advance within your operation. Identify them and establish individual career path strategies. Offer advanced call center supervisor, management, and leadership guidance in order to maximize their opportunity to succeed when you offer them promotional opportunities. But this doesn’t start when you have a position to fill. It should start today. Quality Assurance: Everyone wants quality customer service interactions. Your customers demand it, and your staff desires to offer it, yet without a deliberate quality assurance (QA) program, the results that everyone wants will never materialize. You can’t just wish for quality; you must plan for it. For quality communication to occur you need a formal QA program. This involves evaluating at least one call per agent per week and grading it on a recognized assessment tool. Then use the results for proactive coaching opportunities. Start Now: Call Center Sales Pro can use their big call center tools, resources, and vast knowledge of training, education, leadership, and quality assurance to help you improve the effectiveness of your corporate call center. This will enable you to make the best first impression each time your phone rings and to enhance the overall experience of current and future customers.   Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier consultancy for corporate call centers, whose team possesses decades of relevant business and call center experience. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.