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Strategic and Tactical: The Dynamic Duo of Call Center Management

Great things seem to come in pairs: peanut butter and jelly, paper and pen, Batman and Robin, bacon and… anything. Call center management is no different. When it comes to successfully managing a call center, one of the most important ways to increase the effectiveness of your business intelligence is to combine strategic and tactical data perspectives. This combination is the best way to leverage optimal long-term planning and execution of the outcomes of your plans. Strategic management includes formulating long-term organizational goals and planning the processes required to achieve those goals. Tactical management is the operational activity culminating towards those goals and determining if your resources are effective for handling current call volumes and customer needs.

Here are three common call center stories that illustrate why it’s necessary to have both strategic and tactical management:

 

1. Your Call Center Manger Notices a Huge Spike in Call Volume

Let’s start with this common scenario: you’re a call center manager and your call volume goes from 0-60 without warning. The ability to observe this spike as it’s occurring requires tactical management. In this case, it’s situational awareness and reactive management realizing that a spike is occurring and taking the necessary steps to alleviate the overburdened staff in that moment. This can look like leveraging the available tools and resources, such as pulling in other departments to help manage the workload or adjusting the call flow with extra automated messages and steps. This is where some organizations stop and simply hope it doesn’t happen again. The best management also includes a strategic step of reviewing historical data by variables such as day of week, time of day, or monthly recurrences to search for patterns that require policy changes to avoid recurring spikes.  Having both tactical and strategic management allows leadership to address the issue immediately for temporary relief and provides historical data review to identify and adjust for recurring patterns

2. Your Call Center Manager Notices that an Agent is Behind in Calls for that Day

Here’s another common occurrence: you’re watching your call center agents and notice that some of your staff is behind on their goals for the day. This is the perfect time to coach them about their current status and remind them about their targets as well as the strategies you have to achieve those targets. That’s only half the battle though. You also want to work with upper management to pull historic records of those employees to determine if their issue was a one-time occurrence or if there are patterns you need to address through coaching, incentives or disciplinary measures. There are two key principles here that make it necessary to have both strategic and tactical management. First, it’s very disheartening to tell an agent that they missed the mark after the fact without first giving them the opportunity to course-correct. Showing statistics with tactical data perspectives/dashboards (i.e. Brightmetrics Real Time) is a great way to encourage a boost in performance from your agents and set them up for success. Secondly, it’s difficult to tell in the moment whether their shortfall is a recurring pattern or an anomaly, and if there is a pattern, where the disconnect lies. Maybe it’s simply a lack of coaching or training or maybe there is a bigger gap in their performance. This is a perfect example of the power of combining strategic and tactical data to get the complete picture and take appropriate action.

3. Your Transfer Rate is Abnormally High

One of the metrics call center managers routinely monitor is the transfer rate. We know that the fewer transfers a customer has to make, the better their overall experience. So while you’re watching your transfer rates, maybe you notice the group transfer rate is abnormally high. With this information, you can make necessary adjustments in the moment to ensure the number decreases or the customer experience meets your expectations and guidelines. But once the immediate activity has passed, it’s also important to strategically review your data to see if it’s all of your agents or just a few individuals. From there, you can determine if there’s a pattern that
requires addressing. Whether one or two employees need some extra training so they don’t have to transfer as often, or you should adjust your automated phone system to route calls differently, you have the information necessary to make those business decisions from intelligent analytics. Again it’s the combination of strategic and tactical data that brings together the best of both worlds.

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