All companies can face declining sales, reduced headcount, and budget insecurity when the economy hits uncertain times. But contact centers can feel the strains of a recession even more strongly than others.
Economic downturns are tough for contact center frontline agents and supervisors.
Call center employees often face the uncertainty of keeping their own job amidst widespread layoffs. Job insecurity can dramatically affect a person’s mental and emotional state – and a stressed employee is much more likely to burn out.
However, beyond the pressures of their job security, frontline agents communicate directly with customers. During a recession, customers can become frustrated and angry more quickly as they also deal with all this economic insecurity.
How can contact centers increase the productivity of their supervisors and support their frontline associates during an economic downturn?
Your call center data and analytics can identify areas for improvement to increase efficiency during a recession. Here are a few specific ways that data and analytics can be used:
Overall, using data and analytics can help companies make informed decisions about how to allocate resources, manage headcount, and improve efficiency in their contact center.
It’s important to focus on strategies that provide the best customer experience (CX) when call center headcount shrinks and employee turnover is high. Technology such as call-routing software and customer relationship management (CRM) systems can help supervisors more efficiently prioritize calls, create action plans, and respond sooner to customers.
Along with a reduced headcount, frontline teams might also be coping with the challenge of a larger percentage of new hires. Utilizing software for better customer experiences can help fill the gaps caused by employee fluctuation and accelerate the contact center onboarding process and time-to-proficiency of new hires.
When budgets tighten, headcount is often the first area to be targeted. However, there may be other overlooked areas where an organization is overspending.
Contact center supervisors and directors should carefully review where their budget is spent. While there might be a few vendors to cut, for the vendors you need, consider negotiating better rates. Many companies will be more open to reducing your current rate if the alternative is losing your spend altogether.
Additionally, review your call center’s operational processes to identify bottlenecks, redundancies, or inefficiencies. Streamlining processes can help ease the strain of reduced headcount and wider supervisor-to-agent ratios.
Many companies get stuck trying to figure out how to sustain their current organizational processes. But sometimes, changing the current organizational processes is the solution.
Changing processes might mean automating different types of calls. It could mean that you encourage more customers to use email and live chat. This could even mean looking at the frequently asked questions from customers and creating a more exhaustive FAQ page on your site.
As humans, we are creatures of habit. But when the economy is bracing for a recession and resources are stretched thin, this is the time to reevaluate how things have always been done. Sometimes you can discover a new way to do things that is not only more cost-efficient but also delivers a better experience for your customers.
No matter what you do, remember that while economic uncertainty is hard on your business, it can be equally difficult – or even more difficult – on your call center employees. Companies need to remember to support their supervisors and associates during a recession.
Consider offering training and professional development opportunities to give your frontline employees the skills they need to be successful in their roles. Additionally, provide resources for employees to manage stress and burnout since the demands of a contact center can be high. This can include things like mental health support, time off, or flexible schedules.
Communication is also key. Companies should be open and honest with their employees about any challenges or changes they are facing due to the recession. Finally, it's important to show appreciation and recognition for employees' hard work and dedication. This helps maintain morale and motivation in your call center during difficult times.
The future of success in your contact center is contingent on how you impact performance in ways that are both immediate and sustainable. And it doesn’t matter whether your agents are on-site, at-home, full-time, part-time, or temporary – you must deliver on performance.
Coaching is one of the most significant tools we can use to deliver on the engagement and performance of our people – but we must develop our processes, our people and leadership skills, and our technology tools, in order to overthrow the pervasive challenges to achieving greater coaching effectiveness and supercharging contact center performance!
Unlock the potential of your employees and skyrocket your ROI with cutting-edge coaching.
Melissa Pollock Customer Success at AmplifAI
Jim Rembach President at CX Media