How to Improve Your Call Center Efficiency

Surbhi Nahata

February 1, 202410 min read

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Call center efficiency is a pipedream for many struggling with remote work, rising call volumes, outdated technology and inadequate agent training.

Inefficiencies in your call center's people, processes and tools can lead to lost conversion opportunities and customer attrition to more efficient competitors. With call costs rising unabatedly, this kind of opportunity cost is something modern call centers just can't afford.

However, there are a few quick-win strategies that can help combat economic headwinds while keeping you competitive and viable. Let's learn about them in this article. But first, the basics.

Table of Contents

What is call center efficiency, exactly? 

Call center efficiency is the ability to handle customer calls promptly, effectively and with minimal resources, reducing wait times, improving caller satisfaction and keeping costs under control.

An efficient call center achieves quick response time without compromising support quality or overwhelming agents. All of this is achieved with efficient workforce management in the call center, delivering maximum output from minimal resources.

Let's understand with an example:

Imagine a call center reducing average handling time (AHT) from 8 to 5 minutes through improved agent training and upgraded technology. This reduction not only enhances customer satisfaction but also optimizes resource utilization, demonstrating a clear boost in call center efficiency.

Efficient call center practices lift your business's bottom line and bring forth a myriad of benefits for businesses, such as:

1. Enhanced customer satisfaction

Efficient call centers play a pivotal role in elevating customer satisfaction levels. When customer issues are resolved promptly and effectively, it leads to a positive experience.

The latest call center statistics prove that 80% of customer service teams calibrate business success using CSAT as their leading metric. With efficiency improvements such as interactive voice response (IVR), you swiftly gather caller information and direct callers to the best-suited agents, delivering accurate responses in the first go. The impact of such positive customer interactions reverberates throughout the business, contributing to a strong and favorable reputation.

2. Optimized operational costs

Improving call center efficiency directly impacts operational costs. Streamlining processes, reducing hold times and enhancing first-call resolution rates lead to cost savings for call centers and their clients.

As operational efficiency increases, the cost per interaction decreases. These cost savings can be redirected to other strategic initiatives or reinvested in improving customer service.

Read More: How to Save Costs While Improving Customer Experience

3. Increased agent productivity

Efficient call centers create a positive work environment for teams. When processes are streamlined and agents have the requisite tools and training, morale and productivity soar organically. This not only improves their day-to-day performance but also caps the burning problem of call center burnout and resulting agent attrition.

Editor's Pick: Improving Agent Productivity With a Unified Customer Experience

4. Faster response times

The average speed of answer (ASA) in the industry is around 28 seconds or less, according to the statistics article quoted earlier. Efficiency improvements result in quicker response times, meeting customer expectations of timely assistance and controlling abandonment issues effectively.

5. Competitive advantage

An efficient call center sets a business apart from its competitors by offering a superior customer experience. Businesses that prioritize and invest in call center efficiency gain a clear competitive edge, attracting and retaining customers in a market where customer loyalty is highly valued.

How to boost call center efficiency: 5 proven strategies

As you can see, improving call center efficiency is a win-win for brands, customers and agents. There are massive gains to be earned in the form of cost efficiency, customer satisfaction and agent happiness. Get started with these call center best practices and tips.

1. Define clear goals

The key to call center efficiency lies in articulating measurable objectives that balance customer expectations and broader business goals. There is no cookie-cutter approach to goal setting in call centers.

The "right" business goals look different for different call center types. For instance, an outbound call center strives toward revenue growth by lead generation, whereas an inbound call center primarily focuses on issue resolution and troubleshooting.

There are other factors to consider as well, namely your overarching business goal. Do you aspire to be a market leader by disseminating product knowledge or do you care to score repeat sales from existing customers? Identifying and benchmarking your call center KPIs against industry standards will give direction to your efficiency drive.

With this cohesive approach and clarity of thought, you will be able to drive call center efficiency and overall business success.

2. Invest in agent training and development

Investing in training for your call center agents will bear fruit almost immediately and start giving efficiency returns. Training programs should cover all essential call center agent skills, including:

  • Comprehensive and updated product knowledge

  • Call center technologies to lighten their load

  • Communication, problem-solving and customer empathy

To reinforce learning, incorporate simulation exercises that replicate real-world customer service scenarios, allowing agents to practice and refine their skills in a risk-free environment. Call center coaching not only boosts agent confidence but also incrementally improves call center performance and agent well-being.

Did you know? There are quality management solutions with integrated live agent coaching for agent assistance. They tailor programs according to individual needs, giving smart suggestions for improvements. In addition, they use AI to score and benchmark agent skills based on preset criteria, which helps build a culture of healthy competition and continuous improvement.

Agent AI scoring in Sprinklr’s Quality Management module for call centers

3. Build guided workflows for addressing common issues quickly

Like standard operating procedures (SOPs), guided workflows standardize problem-solving for routine issue resolution. By developing guided workflows for common scenarios, call center agents can exert energy in more complex issues, upskilling and tactical activities.

A guided workflow streamlines problem-solving by leading agents through customer interactions step by step with in-call nudges to reach the resolution stage quickly and painlessly. It's particularly useful in training new agents and troubleshooting technical issues.

Another way to inject efficiency in your call center is by creating a robust knowledge base with step-by-step solutions for frequently encountered issues. This empowers agents to resolve routine problems swiftly, reducing average handle time.

4. Monitor call center analytics rigorously

Implement a robust call center analytics solution to gather and analyze data on various call center agent performance metrics such as after-call work, occupancy rate and first-call resolution rate.

Additionally, keep an eye out for your overall call center metrics to understand the interplay between the two sets of metrics. For example, you may notice increased call abandonment and decreased occupancy during a specific time window. You can safely infer that call drop is more since agents are unavailable; hence, you make standby arrangements and keep up efficiency levels.

Need a pro tip?

Leverage an AI-powered analytics and reporting solution like Sprinklr Service that offers DIY dashboards for 5000+ custom and curated call center metrics and widgets. Go ahead and highlight and export the reports as needed for strategic decision-making.

Analytics and reporting dashboard in Sprinklr Service for monitoring call center analytics and efficiency

5. Utilize skill-based routing

Implement intelligent call routing based on agent skills and expertise to route calls to the most qualified agents, ensuring quicker issue resolution and a higher FCR.

For instance, if a customer calls with a technical issue, skill-based routing connects them with an agent who specializes in technical support, which reduces the likelihood of the call being transferred multiple times.

Factors that impact call center efficiency

Call center efficiency takes a hit when your goals are unrealistic, technologies are outdated or agents are unskilled. Let's discuss these factors in detail below:

1. Unrealistic targets

Unrealistic service level agreements (SLAs) can overwhelm agents, pushing them to prioritize meeting targets over providing quality service.

An HBR case study on a US airline call center revealed that agents disconnected callers who had been on hold for 59 minutes. Further inquiry revealed that employees were paid based on the average time it took to handle calls, including the time callers spent on hold.

This means the only way to meet their SLAs was to hang up on callers. Such scenarios ultimately result in incomplete issue resolution and dissatisfied customers.

Establishing realistic and well-defined KPIs for your agents and business ensures a positive work culture and improved call center efficiency in the long run.

2. Outdated tools

Outdated call center technologies can impede productivity, increase handling times and multiply errors.

For instance, if your CRM system lacks real-time data updates owing to insufficient integrations, your agents will struggle to access relevant customer information promptly, causing delays and potentially providing inaccurate information to customers.

Invest in the best call center software that offers room for scaling up as your customer demands and workforce expand. Additionally, consider embracing AI-powered tools that self-train algorithms to cater to exploding call volumes with efficiency and responsiveness.

3. Inadequate training

Inadequate training and development can lead to agents being ill-equipped to handle diverse customer queries. Say, if agents haven't received sufficient training on a newly launched product, they may struggle to provide accurate information to customers. This leads to frustration on both ends, ultimately resulting in longer call durations and decreased efficiency.

Regular training and development sessions can keep agents up-to-date with product knowledge, communication techniques and problem-solving skills. In fact, according to ICMI, training and development is also one of the most reliable drivers of agent job satisfaction.

How is call center efficiency measured?

Call center efficiency is measured using various KPIs that assess different aspects of call center operations. Here are the most mission-critical metrics to measure:

1. Service level agreement (SLA)

SLA indicates the percentage of calls answered within a specified time frame. It can be calculated as follows:

SLA = (Number of calls answered within a specified time / Total number of calls) × 100


An SLA of 80/20 means that 80% of calls should be answered within 20 seconds.

It reflects the responsiveness of a call center and is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction by ensuring that calls are answered promptly.

2. Average handling time (AHT)

AHT measures the average duration of a call, including talk time, hold time and any post-call work. It can be calculated as follows:

AHT = (Total talk time + Total hold time + Total post-call work time) / Number of calls


This metric serves as a key indicator for assessing the efficiency of call centers. However, it's essential to strike a delicate balance, as excessively low AHT might compromise service quality, creating a potential conflict between efficiency and delivering a high standard of service.

3. First call resolution (FCR)

FCR measures the percentage of calls resolved without the need for the customer to call back for the same issue. It can be calculated as follows:

FCR = (Number of calls resolved on the first contact / Total number of calls) × 100

FCR is a valuable metric for customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. Resolving issues on the first call reduces the need for customers to make repeated contacts.

Read More: Tips to Improve Your Contact Center’s First Call Resolution

4. Occupancy rate

This measures the percentage of time that call center agents spend actively handling calls compared to the total available working time. It can be calculated as follows:

Occupancy rate = {(Total active talk time + Total hold time) / Total available working time} × 100

This metric provides insights into how effectively agents are utilized. However, excessively high occupancy rates may lead to agent burnout.

5. Call abandonment rate

This indicates the percentage of calls that are abandoned by callers before they are answered. High call abandonment rates may indicate issues with staffing or call routing.

It can be calculated as follows:

Abandonment rate = (Number of abandoned calls / Total number of calls) × 100

The above-mentioned metrics are just a few examples and can vary based on the goals of the call center. These metrics are often interrelated. Thus, it's essential to consider them collectively for improving call center efficiency.

Conclusion

As call centers struggle to be efficient in an era of hybrid work models, caller fatigue and razor-thin profit margins, it's essential to recognize the critical need to invest in robust call center technology.

In this regard, Sprinklr Service, a leading unified customer experience management platform, empowers businesses to elevate their call centers to new heights of efficiency with:

  • Centralized Interface: Access all essential functions seamlessly through a unified interface, enhancing operational fluidity.

  • Role-Based Access Control: Ensure data security and streamline workflows with personalized access tailored to each team member's role.

  • Comprehensive Reporting and Analytics: Gain actionable insights through robust reporting tools, enabling informed decision-making for continuous improvement.

  • AI-Powered Insights: Leverage advanced AI insights to refine strategies, enhancing overall efficiency and the quality of customer interactions.

Click on the link below to explore the platform with a full-fledged free trial.

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