As the saying goes, time is money. If you’re running the management of an outbound call center with 50 or more agents, you probably know this better than anybody.Every extra seat added to your center creates new opportunities for further growth. To continue scaling your operation, you’ll need to implement contact center management best practices that boost efficiency:
- Saving manager time and improving effectiveness
- Keeping your agents productive
- Making the most of your leads
In this guide, we’ll cover how to improve your outbound call center with 15 need-to-know best practices for operations with 50+ agents. Find outbound calling strategies and tips covering best practices in these 4 areas:
Managing Team Productivity and Motivation
Tracking Performance and Identifying Issues as They’re Happening
Optimizing and Automating Operations
Supporting Contact Center Compliance
Management Best Practices to Keep Your Team Productive and Motivated
Agents are the engine of any call center. Finding ways to keep them productive and motivated is a must for managers – especially for larger ops with 50, 200, 1000+ agents. You need strategies to help your team avoid the burnout that plagues much of the industry.
Contact centers in general have a reputation for high turnover. But the successful ones find ways to efficiently manage agent training, performance, and engagement. When these employees stick around longer, it’s usually because their productivity is up and their satisfaction is higher.
To combat burnout and turnover, turn to these call center management best practices that help deliver a streamlined agent experience.
1. Set New Agents Up for Success
Fighting burnout and promoting agent efficiency starts on day one of your agents’ tenure. Build an onboarding program that welcomes new team members and sets them up for success. Provide a consistent onboarding experience to all new agents with a program that includes:
- A checklist of key people to meet, points to discuss, paperwork to complete, and sets them up with a startup training roadmap.
- Easy workspace setup. Make sure new agents are ready to go with a system that ensures all necessary equipment and tools, passwords and access are ready to go by your new agent’s first day.
- Clear expectations of the agents’ role. Using a template like a 30-60-90 day plan that outlines learning goals and training priorities for an agent’s first few months will get everyone on the same page.
- Mentorship. Consider partnering your new agent with a more experienced member of the team who can answer questions, guide, and encourage them.
- Regular check-ins. Build a rapport and boost accountability by holding regular check-ins with your new hire, even if they’re predominantly working with other agents in their early days.
2. Incentivize Peak Performance
A good rapport within your team is important. However, you’ll need more than just solid relationships to get the most out of your large contact center’s agents. Use incentives like these to motivate agents to be at their best—and drive results for your call center as a whole:
- Display leaderboards. Turn the average workday into a friendly competition with leaderboards that show off top agent performances.
- Create competitions. Add to this with regularly scheduled sales competitions among your team. Get creative and mix things up over time: Pick a KPI you need to improve and hold a day-long competition that rewards the top performer. Offer mystery prizes for monthly sales leaders. Group your employees into teams to increase cooperation and give a leg up to new agents. The choices for friendly competition at your call center are practically endless.
- Use incentive compensation. Craft a compensation plan that includes rewards for performance against productivity metrics as well as QA and utilization scores. Use other tools like fast start bonuses and spiffs to give out on-the-spot awards.
- Offer clear career progression. Call center veteran and expert Heather Griffin says a well-developed career progression program is crucial for holding onto your most efficient agents. “[A good program] gives people hope, and it helps with retention.” Establish clear timelines and expectations for agents to take on more responsibilities and move up the ladder. “For example, if you’re here for six months and you meet these expectations, you’re eligible to lead a training program.”
3. Build Key Lines of Communication
While the right incentives can promote peak performance, effective communication can help sustain it. Make sure agents know where and when they can find the support they need, and keep them engaged through open lines of communication.
Holding daily briefings to bring your team together and go over updates, events, and goals helps get everybody on the same page. Meanwhile, one-on-one meetings offer opportunities to connect about growth and development on a personal level.
As the size of your team increases, however, it can be more difficult to maintain this connection. To deliver effective coaching and feedback in this environment, admins can turn to Listen & Whisper capabilities to provide guidance and encouragement during live calls. Broadcast Messaging is also a great tool, giving managers the chance to motivate their teams, no matter where they’re located.
Best Practices to Track Performance and Identify Issues as They’re Happening
Without real time analytics that give you insights into call center performance on every level – agents, lists, leads, dialer – an outbound call center cannot reach its potential or achieve stable growth, let alone profitability. Use these next best practices to track and improve call center performance and drive manager efficiency.
4. Get Granular with Your Reporting
According to Nima Hakimi, CEO of Convoso, “One of the biggest problems that call centers have is that they don’t have the ability to look at [performance] information at a granular level.” Using dialer software with powerful reporting capabilities can give you the data you need to optimize operations. Make sure you have the ability to look at your call center’s performance through two different lenses, real-time and historical:
- Real-time reporting – See what’s happening all across your call center, as it’s happening. Use hourly reports to track every agent’s status, including who is on a dead call, who’s on “Not Ready” mode or pause, how many calls are active, and how many agents are available.
- Historical reporting – Look back over longer periods of time to see the bigger picture. Track employee utilization with Disposition and Pause Time Reporting. Keep agents on task with Time Clock Monitoring. And, most importantly, understand the overall profitability of lists with a List Conversion Report. Heather Griffin says, “A List Conversion Report will show you who you’re talking to and if it’s working.” When you know a list is not profitable, you can take immediate action and turn that list off.
5. Lean on the Right Agent Metrics
The right reporting tools give you access to the data you need. But you still need to analyze the right metrics. Stay on top of agent productivity with objective agent metrics that show you who’s performing, who needs help, and who might just be having an off day:
- Talk time. How long an agent spends on a call.
- Wrapup time, or After Call Work (ACW). The time spent assigning disposition, compiling notes, and completing other tasks after a call is completed.
- Pause or wait time. The total time agents spend between calls.
- Calls per agent.
- Number of sales and revenue per agent.
6. Analyze Your List and Lead KPIs
Your team might be humming along, but inefficient lists and leads can still kill performance. Manage your team and achieve true lead efficiency by monitoring not just agent KPIs, but list and lead KPIs.
Nima Hakimi says this is what separates the best from the rest. “Best-in-class contact centers focus on their cost per acquisition (CPA) at a lead vendor level, and how much revenue comes out of those leads.” Unfortunately, though, many contact centers don’t even measure CPA—they only look at performance on a cost-per-lead basis. Get the whole picture by understanding your true CPA and using these other lead and list KPIs:
- Connection Rate
- Lead Conversion Rate
- Cost Per Lead
- Revenue Per Lead
- Contact Rate
- Average Talk Time
- Total Revenue
- List Profit and Loss
7. Enlist the Help of AI
Reporting best practices will help you zero in on the right optimization opportunities. Still, you can’t do it all—particularly when it comes to call center quality assurance (QA). That’s where AI comes in.
According to Marc Bernstein, CEO of Convoso integration partner Balto, managers are able to listen to and score less than 5% of calls. If they enlist the help of others, it requires a hefty amount of payroll to QA all of their calls. For instance, Heather Griffin says she used to need a team of 30 to run QA at her 1,000-seat call center.
AI-driven quality assurance tools can listen to 100% of your calls and identify issues with call quality and compliance. Not only will they save you time, but they’ll save you money on payroll and on lost leads.
Best Practices to Optimize and Automate Call Center Operations
AI-driven QA is just one of the time-saving solutions available to large contact centers. In fact, our next batch of contact center best practices centers on other tools that are essential for running an efficient operation.
8. Minimize Downtime, Maximize Connections with Predictive Dialing
When you’re looking to save all of those valuable seconds across your call center, a powerful predictive dialer is a must. If you’ve ever felt that your agents spend too much time waiting around for a connection, it’s likely that your dialing software is to blame.
Predictive dialing software offers an outbound dialing system that automates the process of initiating calls. Leveraging an intelligent algorithm, predictive dialing anticipates agent availability, automatically calibrates a dialing rate, and only connects agents to live prospects.
Rather than devoting management time to watching your dialer or monitoring agent idle time, let the automation of your dialer do the work for you.
9. Amp Up Your Answering Machine Detection
Predictive dialing software is used to keep agents in a steady rhythm throughout the day. However, reaching a prospect’s voicemail can easily disrupt that flow, driving down agent efficiency and morale when its a recurring issue.
Complement the efficiency of your predictive dialing with fast and highly accurate answering machine detection (AMD). Working alongside your dialer, AMD filters out calls that go to voicemails.
At an outbound call center, every second counts—even more so as the size of your call center grows. The faster and more accurate your AMD solution, the more time your agents will spend talking to prospects and driving revenue.
10. Get the Right Agents on the Line with Skills-Based Routing
Across any medium-sized or large call center, you’ll find agents with a wide range of skills. What if you could route each call to the agent best equipped to handle that call?
Skills-based routing gives you the ability to do just that. Eliminate friction within your sales or lead gen process by making sure that customers are connected within an agent that’s able to handle their request. Filters can be set for state routing, language, experience or knowledge level, or any number of criteria that are critical to your company’s line of business.
On the one hand, skills-based routing can help boost sales. For instance, if you know certain agents convert certain customers more often, you can make sure they speak to more of them. Nima Hakimi recently offered some advice: “Figure out which of the agents do better with it, for example, if the [lead’s] credit score is higher or lower.”
On the other hand, this best practice helps with another key outbound call center concern: Compliance. Teams that work in areas such as insurance lead generation can route calls to agents with compliant state licensure. When it comes to compliance, skills-based routing and dynamic scripting work together to keep your agents saying the right thing at the right time.
11. Use Dynamic Scripts to Boost Conversions and Stay Compliant
Once your agents have a customer on the line, the conversation can go any number of ways. How do you ensure that your agents are prepared for each possibility?
Dynamic call center scripting incorporates data from your CRM to guide agents through personalized conversations and boost conversions. With access to customized onscreen scripts that respond and update in real time, agents can stick to the scripts that your team has tested and knows are successful. As mentioned above, dynamic scripting can help agents stay in compliance with TCPA and various state regulations, even if they’re frequently making calls within different states. When a call from a specific state comes up fot an agent, the correct compliance language should appear for the agent to keep within the legal boundaries of that call.
It’s not only agents that benefit from dynamic scripting. If you’re a manager, you’ll save time on training by giving agents all of the info they need to get through each call. With so many agents across your call center, those time savings can add up in a big way. This automation is essential for large outbound call centers.
12. Expand Your Reach with Automated Omnichannel Outreach
Outbound contact centers can’t afford to miss out on opportunities to connect with customers outside of voice channels. Especially with the increase in call block and flagging [which we’ll discuss below regarding managing your caller ID reputation]. Incorporate SMS and email outreach into your workflows in order to maximize your chances of contact and conversion.
Not all omnichannel solutions are created equally though, according to Convoso’s Chief Product Officer Bobby Hakimi. “[With some solutions,] many of the channels they use are controlled manually by agents. Or, if it’s automated, they have little to no control over when to automate that channel.”
If you already have omnichannel capabilities, make sure they enable automated workflows that save you and your agents time.
Best Practices for Supporting Contact Center Compliance
At larger call centers, or any outbound contact center with over 50 agents, regulatory compliance is an ever present concern. The consequence of ignoring or falling behind requirements is too steep.
These regulatory hurdles are being introduced, changed, and even rolled back all of the time. Meanwhile, your business needs to remain compliant to avoid potential penalties and keep contacting prospects.
13. Keep Up with the Compliance Landscape
Knowing what you’re dealing with is the place to start. No list of contact center best practices would be complete without addressing compliance.
From Supreme Court rulings like Facebook v. Duguid to the rollout of STIR/SHAKEN, it seems like each month brings consequential change to the outbound sales industry. As a manager, it’s essential that you stay on top of these changes with the help of the right compliance resources.
Regularly attending webinars and reading up-to-date guides (like this one!) can help. But you also need to know you’re working with a dialer that’s committed to compliance support. Talk to your software provider today to see how they’re responding to STIR/SHAKEN and other shifting regulations.
14. Minimize Call Blocking and Flagging While Monitoring Caller ID Reputation
One of the most noticeable fallouts of recent regulations is an increase in call blocking and flagging. For Heather Griffin, large call centers she worked with started seeing the impact of new regulations almost overnight. “We all noticed this drop in connectivity, drastically. We felt it happen when the law changed [in late 2019], and [contact rates] steadily started dropping down further and further.”
At a contact center making a huge volume of calls, even one caller ID (DID) being blocked or flagged as “Spam Likely” can have a massive impact on ROI. To make matters worse, without best practices in place, flagged numbers can eat away at revenue without you even knowing about it—until it’s too late.
Caller ID reputation management is an essential practice for minimizing negative ROI impacts. Convoso’s own DID Reputation Management gives you the tools to take a proactive approach to managing your numbers. Rotate out incorrectly flagged or blocked numbers so that you’re only reaching out with clean numbers, and you can boost your contact rates by 20 to 40%.
If you manage a call center with over 50 seats, just imagine the effects on your bottom line when you reach that many more potential customers.
15. Implement Smarter Dialing Strategies
While effective DID management is crucial to navigating compliance and increasing contact rates, it’s not the only best practice you need to achieve lead efficiency. Employing smarter dialing strategies can help you make the most of your leads.
Leads are one of the biggest costs for outbound call centers. Especially if your center has serious dialing capacity, overdialing your data can lead you to quickly burn through those costly leads.
As Nima Hakimi wrote in his blog on accelerating lead efficiency, “When I talk to a call center manager, I want to know how they’re working those leads. How are they recycling their leads? Most people’s dialers are not set up effectively to convert leads. They just keep dumping the leads in and dialing.”
Following this all-too-common approach will quickly deplete the value of high-cost leads. It can also increase the chances that your numbers get flagged or blocked.
Use workflow dialing to automate your redialing strategy and reach customers at exactly the right moment. By staggering your call schedule and setting custom triggers for individual leads, you will break up predictable call patterns and drastically improve contact rates.
For Billy Ness of Bradley Lead Group, a lead gen group with over 100 agents, implementing this best practice with Convoso made a huge difference. According to Ness, “Convoso’s Workflow Automation maximized lead lists for optimal agent utilization rates and increased our list penetration rate by over 30%.”
Bring It All Together and Boost Your Profitability
In our guide, we’ve covered outbound call center best practices that impact virtually every area of your operations. These outbound contact center tips and strategies can improve efficiency for agents, for leads, and for you as a manager.
Of course, to deliver serious growth to your contact center, you will need to bring all of these efficiencies together. Having the right dialing software at your disposal can help you do exactly that.
Bring automation and support to your outbound contact center, no matter your size, by partnering with Convoso. Learn more about how our software and solutions can help you unlock efficiencies and profit by requesting a demo today.Schedule a Demo