Take a close look at your support queues
Do your reps reach out to other departments or queues for support while they have a customer on hold? It’s time to take a deep dive into that data. What is the average time for that team to answer your rep’s call? What is the average talk time of the agents in that queue? Do your reps find themselves on hold at times? Not only are those minutes where your customer is impatiently waiting for your rep to return, it is baked into your rep’s average talk time. Questions to consider as you starting digging into the data:
- Can you adjust staffing in that queue to better meet demand? Keep you analysis simple. Invest a few minutes into creating a spreadsheet that compares volume to staffing. A small shift in coverage often dramatically improves the ASA. That means your front line rep has a shorter wait for help and your customer’s hold time is lower.
- Is there unnecessary socializing happening? You will quickly find out if you monitor some of the calls. These are people who work together and share common ground, of course they are chatting a little! Common are simple conversations like: “What time are you going to lunch today?” to “Hey, did I tell you I just got a new puppy?” It might only be 10 seconds, but that is a long time to that customer waiting on hold.
- Do the support queue agents multi-task while in queue? For example, a customer service center had a team to answer complex product questions. The call volume was usually light so they also answered customer emails while in queue. We found that if a call came in while they were in the middle of answering an email, they often made the rep wait until they had finished writing their reply. Ouch, that poor waiting customer is listing to hold music!
- Are your reps spending too much time venting about their customer before getting down to business? The instinct to vent about a challenging customer to a trusted ear can be overpowering. But while your customer is on hold isn’t the right time. Share the stats with your team and explain that the calls to a support queue need to be all business. Quick on- quick off!
- Should you consider empowering your reps to handle more decisions without approval? For example: if your reps call a supervisor to get approval for a refund outside of policy, why not slightly raise the threshold where the rep can authorize themselves? Reducing the quantity of calls to support queues leads to less talk minutes!
How much can you save? I’ve built a simple calculator you can use to estimate your savings. Just click the link below to download the calculator template. I’ve included an example of how investing just a few hours into research could result in 5 very small changes that for a medium size call center results in ½ FTE savings. There is a place to plug in your own numbers and the spreadsheet will do all the calculations for you.