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01Service levels can fluctuate, creating an ongoing challenge to businesses in providing the kind of customer service your customers expect. When things suddenly go wrong and service levels drop in a short space of time, troubleshooting is the first essential step in returning to excellence.

Contact centre specialists INOVO have identified some of the critical areas that can impact performance:

Agents and processes

In conjunction with examining the effectiveness of software, hardware and technology, how it’s being used (or not) by the teams working with those processes and systems can reveal manageable fixes that are within the control of your business to implement.

Call length and volume

If interactions are taking longer than usual or call volumes spike – as is often the case when a service is down or there’s a promotion underway, service levels may drop. Ongoing training and effective interdepartmental communication can play a crucial role in ensuring that calls are handled efficiently. It will also help agents and the contact centre prepare for potential incidences that could affect call duration, volume and general service levels.

Effective data usage

Workforce management and call forecasting assist in determining staffing levels and schedules, thereby directly influencing service levels. Analysing historical data can effectively reveal patterns in call volumes/demands based on the day of the week, season, type of promotion etc. This helps contact centres ensure that the correct number and type of agents are available to service customers at all times.


Agents could be disappearing without logging activity – taking unscheduled or long breaks. This could result in calls going unanswered or putting pressure on the agents that are available at any time to handle calls. In that case, ensuring that agents stick to schedules as far as possible and that they log off systems when not available will mean that calls can be routed more efficiently to available agents, resulting in improvements in service levels.

Occupancy tracking

The amount of time agents spend on work-related tasks relative to the time they are logged in is known as the occupancy rate. If occupancy rates are high, fewer agents will be available to take calls, so customers will wait longer to be serviced. If their workload is too high, it could also increase their stress levels and ability to perform their jobs optimally. If occupancy rates are too low, agents will be idle for long periods, which will increase staffing and service costs and could potentially result in boredom and dissatisfaction. Contact centre and operations managers should constantly monitor occupancy rates and service levels to ensure that this is balanced correctly.

Management basics

Ensuring that teams are using solutions correctly and that they’re trained to monitor the correct metrics is vital to maintaining high service levels. When individuals move out of the company (or are promoted to different areas) handover procedures must be in place to ensure that the correct use of solutions is maintained and that this institutional knowledge is passed on to the relevant staff members.

Streamlining business tools

Agents are only going to be as efficient as their tools and training allow them to be. Streamlined business tools ensure that your agents don’t have to waste too much time updating or searching for information, or attempting to transfer calls to the right department – all at the cost of your customers’ patience and the availability of your agents.

Check that the amount of time an agent takes to finish all tasks associated with the call is not excessive; tasks such as updating the database, helpdesk or CRM, completing paperwork, speaking to colleagues, sending emails, or updating a calendar, take agents away from being available to customers. See what you can do to make after-call responsibilities more efficient.

“Consistently delivering service excellence is often a difficult task – monitoring and measuring the right metrics and watching out for anomalies is key to maintaining the kind of great service levels your customers expect. Always be prepared for potential challenges to reduce their impact – if you can get it right, you’ll find you have fewer service level fluctuations and more satisfied customers” – Wynand Smit, CEO, INOVO

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