How does the efficiency of your leads, agents, and managers impact the profitability and success of your contact center?
Find out why driving efficiencies is critical for the next-gen call center in this expert panel from the 2020 PACE ACX Virtual Conference.
Watch the video discussion below, moderated by LeadsCouncil Executive Director Rob Seaver. Panelists include Heather Griffin [SVP of Inside Sales at Momentum Solar], Mike Velardi [SVP of Resource Marketing Group], and Nima Hakimi [Co-founder & CEO of Convoso].
Below is a recap of some key points covered about running a profitable 2.0 call center, focusing in on lead efficiency, agent efficiency, and manager efficiency.
You can also download our one-page quick summary of the three efficiencies that drive telesales call center performance.
In the past, call centers could run through a list of leads and just call away. Today, however, you have to be more careful with your leads and the ways you choose to engage them.
So ultimately, the biggest thing we always say is you need to stop buying or generating as many leads as you do. Nima Hakimi
Instead, you should focus on your contact rate and the value of every lead, which starts with understanding your lead factors. This data can help you determine if leads are worth buying and how to best approach them. When considering leads, Heather Griffin said, she asks three questions.
THREE QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT YOUR LEADS
1. Is this lead worthwhile?
There are several factors that affect the potential value of a lead for your company, including geographic location, type, and source. You should also consider your cost per acquisition (CPA). How much is lead acquisition and conversion costing your contact center? What is the cost of your dialer for each lead? Understanding this information will help you determine which leads to focus on and which sources are providing non-converting leads.
2. How should I call my lead?
This step involves evaluating your leads before contacting them. With legislation like STIR/SHAKEN, you can no longer blast leads without risking a spam label or other issues. Instead, you have to consider the data and incorporate an omnichannel approach. While a shared lead might only be worth a few calls, Griffin said, for example, an exclusive lead deserves a more thought-out approach.
“But if it’s an exclusive lead,” she said, “I might slow down and work an omnichannel approach. I might say, ‘You know what? I’m going to call them, then text them. Maybe tomorrow I’ll email them.’”
Even in an omnichannel approach, Hakimi said, you need to be able to stop when you don’t see success or you don’t get a response. Harassing unsuccessful leads can be both costly and damaging to your reputation, potentially leading to call blocking or spam labels that will further limit your results.
3. What do I do after I call my leads?
Griffin has found that her highest-performing list is, surprisingly enough, her “not interested” leads. Routing the data and resetting her lists allows her to find great conversions, even among leads that others might discard.
“If I take all of my data and take all of my not interested dispositions and I load them as a list, it’s better than web data,” she said. “Because it’s a homeowner who’s qualified who picked up who said, ‘No thanks.’ And you get a new salesperson on and they close.”
Before the pandemic, leaders could easily pinpoint areas of distraction or lagging productivity in their call centers by just walking the room. Though managers are no longer in the same location as their agents, however, many call centers have seen increases in productivity.
“We actually ended up more effective, more efficient, with better retention, people sticking it out longer, and happier employees,” Griffin said. “So it actually maybe is a silver lining in this whole mess of 2020.”
The massive shift to work-from-home has increased the importance of actionable data, she said. Agent performance data can help call centers keep agents on schedule to optimize dialer use and results. Monitoring agent statuses, for example, can help you determine your contact center’s level of efficiency.
“If you’re not looking at this word ‘utilization’ in a call center, you’re in trouble. That’s the amount of time that they are on a workable status,” Griffin said. “So if you think about that, they’re either talking on a call or waiting for another call. Those are workable statuses. The rest of the time, they’re not being effective.”
< 14 top call center management tools that drive at-home agent productivity >
Tools and Leads that Support Call Center Agents
The tools you use are also a critical factor in agent efficiency. With agents now located across multiple states, Velardi pointed out, the platform you use can help you stay compliant with different rules in every state. Features such as dynamic scripting can make sure agents are equipped to handle every lead, using location-based scripts to stay compliant in every interaction.
Smart dialing strategies are make a huge difference for agent effectiveness. Rather than giving an agent the same number to call over and over, you can set up a series of automatic actions in a scaling omnichannel approach for greater impact. You can also use automatic skills-based routing to give your best leads to your highest-performing agents.
“Putting the right leads in front of the right people at the right time is really important,” Griffin said, “and that’s an agency efficiency.”
Your agents also need good data and leads to be efficient. If your platform experiences problems such as leaked voicemails, where agents connect to voicemails instead of people, your agents will suffer for it.
“If your system is also not well-tuned to detect the difference between an answering machine or a voicemail or live answer, that agent now gets a lot of voicemails through, and that immediately kills their momentum because they’re used to going from one call to the next,” Hakimi said. “And once you break that momentum, their performance immediately gets impacted.”
Engaging through multiple channels, watching the amount of calling you do, and optimizing voicemail detection can all help your agents reach your goals. Before you can use any of these options, Hakimi said, you first need a platform that supports these efforts.
In today’s call center, management is all about analytics and KPIs.
“Actionable reports have changed everything. We have our data points so readily available that effective management and admin management of the dialer is done through the access of data,” Velardi said. “It’s so available at a microcosm of a timeframe. We’re able to really improve our efficiency.”
Managers need to track queues, abandonment rates, answering machine percentages, contact rate per list, wait time, and more, Griffin noted. You have to get granular with your data to identify and resolve the issues you see.
“If one rep is dispositioning everything ‘not interested,’ that’s a coaching issue,” Griffin said. “But if all of a sudden, all of our dispositions are Spanish, that’s a data issue. So look at your dispositions on a queue side.”
Along with the more apparent KPIs, there are several less obvious metrics to track, including calls that run over a specified amount of time, dispositions, answering machine dispositions, talk time, calls to appointments, and calls to sales. Schedule adherence is another metric that companies tend to overlook with team management. You need to have enough people active on your dialer to be effective, she said, so you have to track utilization and determine if your team is on schedule.
“Almost 100% of the companies I’ve walked in to consult for have had a 50% or less utilization,” Griffin said. “That means more than half the day, their employees are in a non-workable status that can’t generate any money.”
Automation, particularly workflow automation, allows managers to efficiently evaluate performance on a regular basis. With the context offered by your software and automation, Velardi said, you can both pinpoint issues and understand how best to fix them.
Managers have a lot to handle and every moment counts. Rather than spending the time to manually optimize your lists, for example, you can automatically move leads to different lists based on pre-set criteria. Automating these routine tasks allows you to make the most of the time you have.
You need to have the ability to automate as much of that process as possible because in an environment like a call center, you have to make decisions quickly,” Hakimi said. “If you don’t, any minutes or seconds can cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.
In a remote call center, however, you also have to balance your data with the human side of your work. Efficiency has increased, Griffin said, but morale often takes a hit when your team is working from home. As a manager, your job is to help agents transition, maintaining both satisfaction and efficiency.
“You need these one-on-ones. You need the daily check-ins. You need a morning meeting. You need a Friday rally,” she said. “So you get those things in there. But what are you rallying? You’re rallying the efficiencies of what they’re doing.”