From administrators to CTOs to managers to supervisors, everyone wants to run an efficient contact center. Yet, what does “efficient” really mean? How can you measure it, and how do you know you’ve achieved it?
In this post, we’ll explore the concept of contact center operational efficiency, how to measure it, and what steps to take to achieve it.
What is contact center operational efficiency?
Operational efficiency for your contact center refers to the ratio of output gained from your contact center (think customer satisfaction) as a function of inputs (inputs being your people and the hours they work). Simply put, operational efficiency is measured by comparing the effort you put into a task with the result you get out of it.
When you can gain high returns from low effort, your operations are efficient. So, for instance, if you spend a reasonable number of hours training your agents, but your training efforts result in extraordinary customer experiences with well-trained agents, your training program would be considered a success from an efficiency perspective.
How do you measure operational efficiency in a contact center?
Operational efficiency isn’t based on a single metric. Rather, it’s about several metrics that give you insight into your contact center performance, such as:
- First call resolution rate – the rate at which problems are solved the first time a customer reaches out to your contact center
- Average handle time – the average amount of time it takes an agent to handle a customer interaction
- Cost per contact – how much it costs to handle a single interaction
- Adherence to schedule – the amount of time your agents are available to interact with customers over the course of a given hour
- Customer retention rate – the rate at which customers stay with your company over a period of time
The customer retention rate factors into operational efficiency just as much as the other metrics because it’s far less expensive for a company to keep a customer than it is to acquire new ones.
What can you do to boost your contact center operational efficiency?
An excellent first step is to use technology that enables greater efficiency. Cloud contact center software boosts contact center efficiency by:
- Improving uptime, so customers can always reach you
- Helping agents find answers faster
- Offering self-service capabilities to customers
- Optimizing agent schedules
- Increased scalability – it’s easy to add seats when you need them
- Providing supervisors with real-time performance analytics
Cloud contact centers can guarantee 99.99% uptime. Downtime is an expensive problem: the average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute. It also has a highly negative impact on efficiency – when your contact center equipment isn’t working, you can’t answer customer queries.
High levels of uptime increase efficiency because agents can get more work done – they’re not sitting idle as the IT department struggles to fix the issue.
Agents can find answers faster
The traditional call center structure placed agents in silos. They were cut off from the rest of the organization. When customers had a question, agents couldn’t always effectively answer because they couldn’t reach out to their colleagues in other departments.
Cloud contact center software eliminates those silos. It features a built-in corporate directory with a presence indicator. If an agent comes across a question that a colleague can better answer, it’s easy to find that person and connect.
Self-service capabilities for customers
Sometimes, contact center metrics don’t tell the whole story. Let’s say that you have a high first call resolution rate, but it’s because customers are calling to ask you simple questions that agents can answer easily (for example, “What’s my account balance?”). Yes, agents are resolving issues the first time a customer reaches out, although it’s not the most efficient use of your agents’ time to answer those kinds of questions.
Self-service capabilities increase a contact center’s operational efficiency because they allow customers to find their own information. When customers find their own information, it frees up agents to deal with more important, valuable tasks.
Optimizing agent schedules
Another factor that affects contact center operational efficiency is agent schedules. When agents are at work, how much are they actually working, and how long are they sitting idle? Are customers sitting on hold, waiting to connect with an agent, or are they served quickly?
Cloud contact center software that includes Workforce Engagement Management functionality allows supervisors to optimize employee schedules to reduce idle time and to decrease the amount of time customers spend on hold. In addition to making your contact center more efficient, it’s easier for agents to change shifts for increased scheduling flexibility. Agents with flexible schedules are more satisfied and less likely to leave, so you spend less money training new agents.
Optimizing agent schedules is far easier when you have the right number of staffers from the outset. If you’re in an industry where demand for contact center services fluctuates seasonally, there will be times you’ll need to scale up your contact center.
One of the benefits of a cloud contact center is that it scales quickly and easily. It’s simple to add more seats to meet seasonal demand, so you can handle the increase in customer contacts.
Providing supervisors with real-time performance analytics
You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists. With more agents and supervisors than ever working from home, supervisors can’t use the same tools they once did (walking the floor, speaking to agents one-on-one) to keep tabs on agent performance.
That’s where cloud contact center software shines. It not only powers the remote contact center but also provides real-time analytics about agent performance. Supervisors can monitor calls in real-time, and they have the capability to whisper coach and enter the call if necessary. Moreover, they can view on-screen recordings and call recordings to get a better sense of what’s happening during customer interactions.
Cloud contact center software also lets you customize the metrics that matter most to your contact center. Those metrics give supervisors deeper insight into contact center operations so they can develop strategies to boost operational efficiency.
RingCentral cloud contact center software: driving operational efficiency
RingCentral’s market-leading cloud contact center software offers built-in features to increase operational efficiency so supervisors can run contact centers that are low-cost and productive. To learn more about how RingCentral’s cloud contact center software can help you, get a demo.
Originally published Mar 30, 2021, updated Dec 30, 2022