Contact centres find themselves under increasing pressure from businesses to drive revenue, and thus are being forced to identify an appropriate balance between cost saving and improved efficiency, says Deon Scheepers, strategic consultant – EMEA for Interactive Intelligence.

This can sometimes lead to contact centres compromising on certain elements, be it in terms of staffing or technological processes. However, in order to ensure efficiency and productivity, it’s vital that contact centres never compromise on the following factors:

Staff training
First call resolution (FCR) is the primary principle underpinning all contact centres, and needs to be strongly reinforced. A company’s FCR rate will ultimately dictate their success, and is the benchmark by which efficiency can be best assessed.
A high FCR rate is dependent on a myriad factors, the most important being agent training. Ultimately, the primary onus will be on the contact centre agent to deliver resolution to the customer, and, as such, no corners should be cut when it comes to providing staff with the best possible training in all aspects of customer service.
Agents also need to be given access to systems and processes that enable them to easily access information, and handle unforeseen circumstances in an effective manner.

Single view of the customer
It is imperative that contact centres employ unified systems, so as to effectively integrate all channels and establish a more holistic view of the customer. These systems allow all contact points to be tracked, analysed and reported upon, thus enabling agents to better manage customers across an array of channels.
Multiple databases and systems will inevitably compromise a contact centre’s ability to access relevant information when dealing with customer queries, thus slowing down processes and lessening the likelihood of first call resolution.
Agents should have access to records of all past interactions with their customers, and be able to access these from a central, integrated database, thereby allowing them to track issues as they evolve and expedite the resolution thereof.

Measurement tools
The ability of a contact centre to improve lies in its capacity to measure itself. As such, it’s vital that contact centres employ appropriate measurement and quality management tools, so as to be able to effectively assess their strengths and weaknesses.
Live agent monitoring tools enable management staff to keep tabs on conversations, whilst recording systems represent an effective tool with which to reflect on past interactions, and identify areas in which improvements could be made.