Help Is on the Line for Call Center Challenges

Call centers typically struggle with two major issues: ensuring high quality multi-channel communication and dealing with high employee turnover.

Multi-channel communication is no longer optional for call centers, as customers are used to having many options for interacting, ranging from phone and text to e-mail and social media. However, maintaining the quality of interactions across channels and reducing queuing and routing times have always been on the list of challenges for most call centers.

Employee turnover can also be burdensome on call center operations. Most call centers attempt to match candidates’ skills to available customer-facing positions such that they can perform most tasks with minimal training. For instance, a person working in customer support should be calm and patient while attending to a customer’s request, whereas a sales person is generally better received if he or she is more energetic. Experience in call center operations and speed at picking up new skills is often important as well.

Customer Interaction Center by Interactive Intelligence
Interactive Intelligence’s Customer Interaction Center (CIC) for the contact center provides a series of interaction management tools, including multi-channel interactive voice response (IVR) for calls and emails through a built-in customization tool that facilitates the creation of scripts across channels. The solution accommodates complex IVR menu-scripts that have a large number of options and branching. CIC offers support for voice, e-mail, fax, online forms and chat, as well as SMS and social media communication.

With CIC, call centers can automate the necessary business processes meant to facilitate their customer communication strategies, as the solution includes capabilities to capture, prioritize, route, escalate, and track each step of a work process.

CIC offers multi-channel routing and queuing and automatic call distribution functionality. Moreover, the software solution allows for skill-based routing—a functionality that requires customer profiling and requests information to locate the necessary skill set required by a customer care, sales, collections, or other interaction. The functionality can also grasp various levels of competency within a skill or include business criteria to routing schemes.

In addition, CIC offers the option to record and monitor calls for supervisory and quality insurance purposes. In fact, a supervisor is able to provide coaching during a customer-call center representative interaction, as a different phone line is opened between the supervisor and the agent that the customer cannot access or hear. Supervisors can also take advantage of real-time speech analytics to monitor customer sentiment and intervene when needed.

CIC’s all-in-one IP communications model can reduce the number of devices required from other telecom and computer telephony integration solutions, and for those devices that are needed, CIC’s open architecture makes things simpler as it allows integration with legacy IT and telecom systems.

The solution also supports remote agents. Allowing agents to work remotely gives companies an advantage in keeping talented employees motivated by offering these employees flexibility in their schedules. In fact, remote agents tend to be happier in their jobs, as they can incorporate other responsibilities into their work schedule.

Helping call centers ensure that they are hiring the right candidates is at the core of HireIQ’s recruitment and staffing software design. The skill set required by most call center agent positions includes good communication skills, the ability to remain focused, strong analytical skills, and the ability to take initiative over short periods of time. Most call centers resort to conducting first-round interviews with candidates through phone interviews conducted by HR professionals. But, these interviews incur high costs.

HireIQ offers call centers the option to automate the assessment of an applicant’s communications skills, job knowledge, and soft skills such as style, energy, and enthusiasm. HireIQ’s InterviewIQ, which relies on media-rich Web and voice response technologies, allows recruiters to evaluate and score recorded interviews. In other words, the software facilitates the recording of candidate interviews and in so doing it ensures that all candidates go through an identical selection process.

InterviewIQ provides companies with the flexibility to customize the interview process as needed. In addition, InterviewIQ includes pre-configured profiles for various types of customer-facing positions.

The typical interview process has several stages. First, a set of qualification questions are designed to eliminate unqualified or unsuitable candidates before they reach the stage of meeting with a recruiter. Next, open-ended or free-association questions about job experience and skills are meant to assess candidates’ knowledge and communication skills.

As the HireIQ system is automated, candidates may undertake certain stages of the interview process at a time convenient for them, while the recruiters can likewise review recorded interviews at their leisure. In addition, several recruiters can more easily participate in the reviewing of interviews with HireIQ, while in the past it would have been too costly to have more than one recruiter per interview.

Call centers have long been facing employee turnover and multi-channel communication challenges. Both Interactive Intelligence and HireIQ have researched, understood, and developed software solutions to attenuate some of these challenges through the automation of call center specific activities. In fact, the automation of call center business processes for both operations and hiring teams ensures better customer and employee experience and therefore higher customer and employee retention.
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