Providing excellent customer service is an ongoing challenge – what works today isn’t guaranteed to provide the same service levels tomorrow – but what do you do when things suddenly go wrong, when service levels drop in a short space of time? Identifying the potential source of problems is the first critical step in resolving challenges and returning to excellence.
People and processes
When service levels suddenly plummet, the supporting software, hardware and technology is often the first to bear the brunt of the blame. However, the source of the fluctuation can often be closer to home and within the control of the business – starting with the supporting people and processes.
Examining call length and volume
For example, if conversations take longer than expected or if call volumes suddenly spike, such as when a service goes down or there is an unexpected sale or promotion, this could put strain on service levels. Ongoing training and effective interdepartmental communication can play a crucial role here – not just to ensure that calls are handled efficiently, but also to prepare agents and the contact centre for multiple eventualities that could affect call duration, volume and general service levels.
Using data effectively
Workforce management and call forecasting assist with staffing and scheduling to account for how many agents will be needed in peak periods such as promotions or seasonal increases in traffic. The time of day and day of the week can influence how many people are required at any given time. If you are attempting this manually, you could be losing out on the information that could be provided by data analysis that reveals patterns in call demands/volumes.
Other factors such as poor schedule adherence (e.g. unscheduled/long breaks) could also have an impact on the number of agents available at any given time to answer calls, resulting in a dip in service levels.
Tracking occupancy rates
The occupancy rate is a measure of the amount of time agents spend on work-related tasks relative to the time they are logged in. If occupancy rates are very high, less agents will be available to service calls, resulting in a longer waiting time for callers, and a decrease in service levels. This could also indicate that agent workload is too high, which could impact their stress levels and ability to perform their job optimally. Conversely, if occupancy rates are very low, agents will be idle for long periods, which will increase staffing and service costs and could potentially create boredom and job dissatisfaction. Ultimately, there is a fine balance between juggling occupancy levels and service levels correctly – it’s something that should be constantly monitored by contact centre and operations managers.