Expanding the Context of Call Center Workload
Workload—the most nebulous and undefined of call center phrases. Encompassing a vast expanse of different duties and responsibilities, workload is often used to define the entirety of a call center agent’s pre-call, call, and post-call duties across any given shift. And yet, even if we expand the definition of workload to include call center managers, IT personnel, and other employees, we’re still defining the scope of workload narrowly. We’re still omitting the one community whose workload impacts customer retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue generation more than any other role—the caller.
Voice Interactions are Growing
Despite the (as of yet, unmet) promises of omni-channel customer engagement, the voice channel continues to be the most widely utilized customer interaction channel. In fact, if we examine staffing changes in U.S. call centers, we see a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the last 5 years:
U.S. CONTACT CENTER STAFFING
Source: Jll Research, “2017 Contact Centers Outlook”
There is no shortage of reasons for this increased staffing. Newfound focus on customer satisfaction, growth across key verticals relying heavily on contact center operations (healthcare, retail, technology, etc.), and other drivers have actually led to increases in voice interactions compared to alternative channels over the past 2 years. And in this age of instant gratification, callers expect the same ease and speed of service they’re become accustomed to in the rest of everyday life.
Callers – The Ultimate Customer
Though they are the ultimate customer, callers who dial into—and rely on—your call center, are often overlooked when examining call center workload. While alternate digital channels are inherently able to keep pace with demand, the voice channel is frequently jammed with customers—who waste time and effort on hold queues, get frustrated with IVR menus, have to repeat their requests over and over, and generally experience customer dissatisfaction.
While its all well and good to examine agent workload in order to create efficiencies that can reduce it for the benefit of callers, would it not be better to first assess the workload being presented to callers?
- How many different service lines are there to dial into?
- Can the caller gain access to the appropriate resource without repeating themselves or being transferred?
- How long/frequent are hold times?
- Is there an auto attendant or IVR? Is it speech-enabled? Are there menus to endure?
- Are agents available?
- How much effort is required to explain your need and get it resolved?
The above questions will paint a better picture of the customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction your call center is supporting. For now, set aside Average Handle Time, First Call Resolution, and other (important) measures of agent workload and productivity, and start at the top with the most important constituency in the call center – the caller.
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