10 Contact Center Best Practices to Follow

Saumya Chaudhary

February 12, 20247 min read

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Let's face it — contact centers have been through a rollercoaster during the pandemic.

It has catapulted contact centers onto the frontline of customer service, deluging them with an influx of customer requests but limiting them with time, resources and a skilled workforce. Extended hold times and customer frustration are inevitable.

The result? Patchy, inconsistent support experience in an era where 63% of decisions are made based on customer experience. Implementing contact center best practices offers respite to overburdened agents and hapless customers by optimizing the way issues are tracked, managed and resolved.

But before we discuss the best practices, let's acquaint you with some of the basics of contact centers and their state in 2024.

Table of Contents

What is a contact center?

Contact centers are business units (in-house or outsourced) responsible for managing customer interactions across online and offline channels like emails, voice calls, web chats, social media etc.

While some may think that "contact center" and "call center" are interchangeable, they differ in terms of scope, operations, channel coverage and performance measurement.

To learn the difference in detail, read Call center vs. contact center.

In the 2000s, with a flurry of customer requests, companies needed a more robust omnichannel touchpoint than call centers. As channels of communication expanded, omnichannel contact centers replaced voice-only call centers.

Post 2000s, organizations also became focused on saving costs and improving efficiency— bringing in cloud contact centers. Their pay-as-you-go model, scalability and guaranteed uptime enabled businesses to deliver 24/7 customer service without breaking the bank.

Fast-forward to today. The modern customer expects hyper-personalization from their preferred brands on all customer touchpoints. Contact centers resorted to AI-powered customer service that captures in-the-moment customer needs to tailor the support experience.

However, customer demands grow unabatedly, which is why contact centers need proven best practices and tips to stay ahead of the curve, viable and profitable at the same time.

5 Business benefits of leveraging contact centers

With a long history of evolution, contact centers offer many benefits to customers —shorter wait time, faster resolution and a seamless user experience, to name a few.

But that's not all. A contact center can also greatly benefit your business in many other ways. Here they are:

  1. Omnichannel support

    Did you know that 56% of all customer interactions happen during a multi-event, multi-channel customer journey? Therefore, one of the primary benefits of a contact center is having an omnichannel touchpoint for all your customer interactions.

    Also read: Omnichannel Customer Service [Concept, Examples & Startegy]

  2. Customer satisfaction

    A contact center can help foster customer satisfaction (CSAT), nipping issues right in the bud. A business can't be available 24/7 to customers, but an AI-powered contact center can. While human agents can man the frontline for limited hours, chatbots and virtual agents work tirelessly round the clock resolving issues, providing information and engaging with customers, leads and prospects.

    Curious to learn more? Here's a 4-step strategy to improve CSAT with bots

  3. Improved revenue

    Genuine care fosters a deeper connection of customers with your brand. So, it isn't surprising that customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand.

    The ripple effect? Better upsell and cross-sell opportunities and brand recognition among your target audience.

  4. Cost savings

    Well-oiled contact center operations can yield big savings by automating repetitive tasks, deflecting calls to cheaper channels and de-siloing teams.

    The trick is to find a future-ready contact center solution that lets you scale up without expanding your team endlessly. As explained, cloud contact centers bring immense financial benefits on account of infrastructure, software licensing and maintenance costs.

    Moreover, robust contact center automation boosts agent productivity and frees them from burnout and attrition. With the right productivity tools, your workforce delivers more in less time and you break free from the constant cycle of hiring and onboarding.

  5. Unified customer insights

    According to the latest customer experience statistics, 80% of customers say that companies do not have the context of their last conversation, ruining their brand experience.

    With contact center AI, you can neatly funnel all the customer care insights to a central hub. Imagine a customer bouncing around from your Facebook page to live chat support and then to voice support. With a collaboration history, a new agent could seamlessly pick up where the conversation left off. Happy customers, happier agents.

Important contact center metrics that matter 

Now that we've discussed the benefits, let's dive into the various contact center metrics so you can evaluate the impact of implementing contact center best practices to your bottom line.

  1. Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

    Customer satisfaction or CSAT is a numerical score on a scale of 0 to 10 that indicates how happy/satisfied a customer feels after interacting with your support team. To capture the CSAT score, you can use event-triggered customer surveys and forms.

  2. Average handle time (AHT)

    Average handle time or AHT is the average time to resolve the point of first contact to final resolution, which can happen during the call or a bit later.

  3. First contact resolution (FCR)

    First contact resolution (FCR) is the percentage of cases resolved in the first contact, without customers having to go through the hassle of repeating themselves or making multiple calls.

  4. Cost per call (CPC)

    Cost per call is the financial fingerprint of a customer call in a contact center. It is a crucial metric that determines cost efficiency and agent performance.

  5. Customer retention rate (CRR)

    Customer retention rate (CRR) shows the percentage of customers who stick around with your brand over a timeframe. Reducing customer churn is one of the most effective ways to reduce your acquisition costs and remain viable.

  6. Agent attrition rate

    Agent attrition refers to the rate at which contact center agents resign from their roles within a specified time frame. High attrition levels could lead to increased hiring costs, low productivity and inconsistent service quality.

  7. % SLA adherence

    Service level agreements (SLAs) serve as steadfast commitments to meet customer expectations. Contact centers must adhere to the stipulated support timelines to maintain client/customer trust.

10 Effective contact center best practices to follow

Now that you're all set with the basics let's look at a few tried-and-tested contact center best practices to provide exceptional customer support.

1. Build a network of expert agents

According to the Agent Wellbeing and the Great Resignation report by Calabrio, 96% of agents are feeling acutely stressed at least once a week.

When your agents are constantly being asked to do more with less, it creates a stressful work environment and leads to poor customer service. Invest in building a robust network of contact center agents using these methods:

  • Agent coaching: These coaching sessions not only ensure agents stay on top of the latest industry trends but also enhance their problem-solving and communication capabilities.

  • Workforce management: You can also fine-tune your agent performance by fair workload distribution built atop scheduling and forecasting so agents don't feel overworked.

  • Leverage AI tools: Implementing AI-powered productivity boosters like canned responses and guided workflows in contact centers can lower response times and reduce agent intervention.

2. Simplify your internal processes

It is common for support agents to juggle between tools to have a better understanding of customer queries. This is precious time wasted on reinventing the wheel when they can be fostering client relationships.

One way for contact centers to simplify their internal processes is by consolidating customer and interaction data in a unified contact center CRM.

It helps them systematically organize crucial customer information gathered during interactions so it is available on demand. Beyond enhancing customer support, CRM insights help support teams drive qualified leads and personalize interactions.

3. Offer self-service tools to streamline contact volume

Knowing that chatbots can answer most routine customer questions, it would be fool-hardy not to invest in customer self-service tools.

Better still, opt for AI self-service that tailors its offerings with real-time customer insights and behaviors to yield relevant and accurate answers in the first go. With customers self-solving issues, your contact center volume decreases, and ROI shoots up organically.

A winning customer self-service strategy comprises a toolkit that includes:

  • An AI knowledge base with AI search and community forums

  • FAQs and product tutorials

  • Conversational AI chatbots

  • Voice-led AI, among others

Ensure your self-serve options are readily available on all customer-facing platforms like websites, apps, social media platforms and review sites, and they are also discoverable via Google.

4. Invest in technology that can grow with you

Investing in the right contact center technology impacts your day-to-day working and overall performance. Onboarding the best contact center software can save costs, improve efficiencies and operationalize processes along the way.

But, choosing a technology partner that will grow with you is tricky. You must make sure that your partner of choice:

  • Provides omnichannel customer support with wide channel coverage and quick channel addition

  • Automates workflows for mundane, repetitive tasks

  • Offers extensive integrations with third-party tools for email marketing, ticketing, database management, CRM and other relevant ancillary services

  • Is cloud-compatible for scale and efficiency

In addition, transparent pricing and tight governance will help you cover all bases and get the best bang for your buck.

5. Centralize your customer data

One of the toughest challenges with legacy contact centers is that their customer data lives in silos. Agents may have access to relevant information for the case but not the full context. With half-baked context, resolutions often lack relevance and accuracy.

It is recommended that organizations look into tools and technology that can turn customer data into actionable insights and business opportunities while saving precious time and angst from jumping windows.

For instance, Sprinklr's unified agent console integrates the customer's CRM data, past interactions across channels and the specific case details in one pane of glass. Democratizing data this way enables holistic solutions and overall efficiency in contact centers.

Unified agent console on Sprinklr - contact center best practices

6. Laser-focus KPIs on customer experience

Customer experience metrics are the guardrail to contact center success. A contact center that focuses on delivering stellar, smooth experiences is never out of business. Here's a lucid four-step framework for customer experience management you can follow:

  1. Measure: Identify and measure the right metrics, categorizing them into cost, quality, strategy and efficiency buckets that align with your broader customer service goals.

  2. Analyze: Transform raw data into actionable insights using AI-powered contact center analytics and make strategic adjustments based on your findings.

  3. Prescribe: Track your KPIs regularly to predict trends in customer experience and customer behaviors, prescribing workforce skills and strategy changes to cope and thrive.

  4. Implement: Finally, maintain top-notch performance by implementing real-time customer feedback with agility.

Predicted CSAT on Sprinklr - contact center best practice

7. Incentivize agents to boost performance

In an emotionally charged contact center environment, ensuring that your teams feel inspired and motivated to meet their KPIs is crucial.

Your incentive program can vary based on your organization, but how do you evaluate agent performance objectively? This is where AI-powered scoring can help.

This scoring method utilizes machine learning algorithms and examines conversation data for assessing agent performance on parameters like product knowledge, customer empathy and proactive listening. With a tiered reward system, acknowledge the good work done by your agents and drive them to excel.

8. Respond to contact surge with agility

No matter how minutely planned your contact center operations are, there will always be unexpected peaks and troughs in traffic and expectations. contact center workforce optimization (WFO), you avoid over and under-staffing to achieve bankability.

  • Agent scheduling: Embrace flexibility in your contact center by offering agile scheduling practices. Give agents the liberty to control their schedules and bid for preferred shifts.

  • Forecast demand gaps: Play out various contact center scenarios to grasp the impact of variables. You can also use AI to plan tailored SLA policies that align with customer expectations on varied digital platforms.

  • Track it all: Once again, AI can play a crucial role in monitoring agent presence and adherence to breaks and schedules.

9. Explore Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is a cloud-based service that delivers on-demand access to customer support and engagement tools on a need basis. Being cloud-hosted and virtual, CCaaS offers unmatched scalability and cost-efficiency to contact centers.

CCaaS can streamline customer care processes and break down silos by consolidating inquiries from various channels into a single platform. If this is something you're interested in exploring, ensure that your CCaaS provider offers:

  • 24x7 support on pertinent customer service channels, enabling a channel-less support experience

  • Tight compliance standards with industry regulations like GDPR or HIPAA for data privacy, security and trust

  • Demonstrable success and positive customer reviews, backed by robust product suites and a skilled workforce

10. Prepare a business continuity plan (BCP)

If the pandemic taught us anything, it is to have a systematic business continuity plan (BCP) in place. Redundancy measures, backup systems and failover options are crucial to help minimize downtime. CCaaS can also help you be prepared with a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity during unforeseen events and contingencies.

You can also achieve this by appointing a crisis management committee to assemble contingent recovery plans. They can also cross-collaborate with departments like HR, legal and finance so that no one is left out of the loop.

To sum up

Contact center management is no cakewalk, and we concede. Volatile customer behaviors, a competitive ecosystem and razor-thin profit margins are just some of the challenges before contact center leaders. Moreover, getting executive buy-in for technology upgrades and strategy pivots is hard.

Sprinklr Service dissipates many of these blockers with a proven track record of matchless success with contact centers of all scales and sizes. With contact center best practices at its core, Sprinklr ensures you are always ahead of the pack with cutting-edge AI-powered technology that is purpose-built for scalability, efficiency and affordability.

Sound unbelievable, right?

It's actually not. Get a 30-day free trial to explore Sprinklr Service firsthand.

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