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Tuesday, 15 December 2020 22:08

How to maximise the return on your extended hours contact centre

Daniel Harding, Director Australia Operations, MaxContact Daniel Harding, Director Australia Operations, MaxContact

Staying ‘open all hours’ can deliver significant benefits for businesses that put the right infrastructure and processes in place

GUEST OPINION by Daniel Harding, Director – Australia Operations, MaxContact: Weighing the pros and cons of keeping your contact centre open outside standard business hours this year? In our experience, companies generally decide to do so for one of two reasons: they’re receiving a steady stream of after-hours enquiries, or they see an opportunity to generate or collect revenue more effectively.

For businesses in the former category, a string of unanswered calls each evening can easily become a backlog, particularly if agents are operating at capacity during the day and don’t have time to return dozens of enquiries.

Businesses in the latter category include telcos, utility companies and collections agencies; organisations whose interest it’s in to be always available to sign customers up and collect payments, either directly or via an automated service.

If either of these scenarios sound familiar, extending your operating hours could be a worthwhile move. So, how can you maximise the return on the additional investment associated with doing so, by ensuring your contact centre operates as productively as possible for each and every minute it’s open?

Here are some things to focus on.

Implementing workforce management software

People are the biggest expense associated with running a contact centre and the more hours you’re open, the more you’ll spend on wages. That’s why it’s important to optimise your roster using workforce management software. Today’s solutions incorporate sophisticated analytics tools that allow you to map and forecast peaks and troughs in activity and organise your workforce accordingly. They can also be used to eliminate much of the manual toil and argy bargy that had rostering clerks tearing their hair out in days of yore. With a workforce management solution in place, agents can input their own availability and swap shifts with colleagues who have an equivalent level of expertise.

Building a comprehensive knowledge management system

Extending your hours can be counterproductive if service levels deteriorate after the clock strikes five or six. But agents working outside peak times, on a skeleton roster, may not necessarily have access to the same level of support their co-workers on the day shift enjoy. If there isn’t a senior worker or team leader available to escalate to when a customer poses a curly question late in the evening, having a comprehensive, well organised body of corporate knowledge to consult can be the next best thing.

Aligning yourself with a global carrier

If you’ve opted to go 24/7, using offshore partners to deliver out-of-hours support may be your preferred operating model. Should this be the case, aligning yourself with a global carrier will help you keep costs down, by ensuring you don’t incur international calling rates on any traffic they handle.

Investing in a cloud contact centre platform

There’s little more frustrating for customers than having to recount the same set of facts about themselves or their situation every time they jump on the phone to your organisation. Providing agents with access to a single repository of customer information allows you to avoid this Groundhog Day scenario. That can be tricky if you’re using legacy, on-premises contact centre software and want to site your long hours contact centre in multiple locations. Migrating to a cloud based platform can solve this problem. It will allow your agents to access a ‘single source of truth’ that can help them to provide customers with consistent, joined-up service, regardless of what hour of the day or night they choose to get in touch.

Reaping the rewards

Extending your contact centre hours may benefit your business by providing you with increased opportunities to engage with customers and generate additional revenue. Optimising your operations from the outset will ensure you make the most of the investment it entails.

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