One of the most important yet overlooked aspects of a call center agent’s duties is after call work. After call work is a common pain point for call centers, and can negatively affect agent efficiency, customer satisfaction, and call center overall level of service if neglected.
This article will explore ways that to expedite and simplify after call work, and make it an asset rather than a chore.
What is after call work?
After call work, or ACW, encapsulates all the tasks which a customer support or sales representative must complete once they’ve terminated a call. Ending a call, no matter how satisfied the customer is when the call ends, doesn’t mean that it’s a wrap.
ACW is just as important as the call itself, especially in the long run. Careful and methodical after call work leaves a lasting trace of the call and the customer’s impression, in the hopes of improving your quality of service and customer satisfaction over time.
What does after call work entail?
Common ACW tasks include:
- Logging call notes and summaries.
- Assigning and carrying out follow up.
- Updating your CRM and/or help desk.
- Looking into customer feedback.
There’s no real average for the period of time spent for after call work. Every call center is different, and every agent’s tasks and customer interactions are quite unique. However, it’s common to feel that ACW takes longer than you’d like, and cuts into your productive, in-the-zone time. ACW is necessary, however, so the trick is to find ways to speed the process up, and make it less of a buzzkill.
Step up the training
Agents are the lifeblood of your call center. In order to perform to the best of their abilities, agents needs to be adequately trained.
Proper onboarding will set the bar for agents productivity and future performance standards, so it’s crucial to get it right. It makes good sense to hire agents who display the traits most conducive to customer service excellence but recruiters shouldn’t neglect to appraise applicants’ potential to ace their onboarding, either.
From the get-go, agent training needs to make very clear what is expected of your agents, as well as what resources they’ve got at their disposal.
- Detail your processes with regard to after call work: how to correctly handle logs, tickets, assignment, etc.
- Teach them shorthand and speed-reading techniques to log and proofread information quickly and painlessly.
- Show them how to command the software they’ll use daily, since in the heat of the moment they’ll need to find their way around easily and naturally.
- Bring in trainers from different departments to show new hires how your process works holistically and demonstrate the context and consequences of great (or poor) after call work. If you can demonstrate to agents the importance of their after call work for the call center as a whole, they’ll be more likely to give ACW their full attention.
The sooner agents assimilate this knowledge and expertise, the sooner the process of after call work will become second nature.
Coaching booster shots
Initial training sets the tone for your agents, but everyone requires a little encouragement now and again. As you refine your call center operation, your standards and processes for after call work will change. Agent monitoring and feedback should serve your agents rather than discipline them. KPI’s should work to improve your agent productivity, not demoralize your team.
Remove the punitive connotation of performance monitoring by grounding coaching sessions in agent improvement and the scrutiny of your KPIs. Regular and dedicated coaching is necessary to maintaining a level of after work efficiency and thereby keep up customer service excellence.
Configure your call center software
Cloud-based call center software works right from your desktop, without the need for traditional call center hardware. As a result, your phone system is decked out with extra features to help with after call work.
Shared call inbox
A shared call inbox like Aircall’s shows you all the calls which require agent attention on a given number. The inbox keeps a trace of every call, so that no customer interaction falls by the wayside. Your call center software should be easy to use, and save you the effort of remembering all sorts of information while you’re in the thick of things.
Managers can have a bird’s eye view on the whole team’s activity, and individual agents can easily keep track of which calls require processing. Immediately after hanging up, every agent can find a trace of their call in the inbox, and follow up on it immediately.
Assigning and commenting calls
From there, Aircall’s software lets agents ensure that every call will get the appropriate follow-up, and that the entire team will be on the same page. Agents can assign each call to a teammate or to themselves for future reference.
Leaving an explanatory comment can also help agent work as a cohesive unit and make sure no call slips through the cracks. After call work is much less of a hassle if one can rely on their teammates and on their call center software.
Integrate your call center software
Potentially the greatest strength of your cloud-based call center software is its ability to integrate with your other business tools. Instead of wrapping up a call, hanging up the phone and having to individually input call logs and client information into your CRM, your help desk, or any other program, you can complete the operation in one step.
When you comment, assign, or archive a call, your VoIP phone system saves that data. It then passes on that data to the other tools you use to serve your customers and prospects. This is a tremendous time-saver for agents: even if you only need a couple minutes of after call work to duplicate logs in two different programs, the time spent tends to add up at the end of the day. Moreover, if agents are able to log information only once across several programs, it’s less likely that data will be lost or incorrectly recorded due to human error.
In addition to this, integrating professional tools with one another also saves agents effort and frustration. Their after call work is expedited and less repetitive. Agent attrition is the bane of many call centers managers’ existence. and a disturbance to the business processes you have in place. While initial and regular training are supremely important to reducing agent turnover, so is the provision of tools which help agents complete their tasks rather than hinder them.
Refine your processes
If your tools and your team are up to snuff, the missing link in the chain is ensuring the soundness of your after call work processes.
Collect and act upon feedback
A successful feedback loop consists of data collection, analysis, implementation, and starting from the top. This quality assurance process is necessary to the adaptation of your customer service strategy to your customers’ ever-evolving needs and expectations. However, a feedback loop should also extend to your call center agents.
In order to streamline after call work processes, you need to ask your agents how they’re getting on. Their concerns and challenges will give you an idea of the areas of their after call work tasks which require improvement and simplification. By sticking to a virtuous loop of continuous feedback, you can eliminate redundant processes, tweak inefficient ones, and perfect what already works well.
Automate repetitive tasks
The process of automation can do wonders for your customers’ happiness as well as for your agents’. Thanks to the features of call center software and the fact that different programs can integrate with one another, automation can reduce the time it takes for your agents to finish their after call work.
For instance, in the case of a missed inbound call, you can:
- Have the call show up in your CRM for follow-up from your sales team, if it’s from an unknown number.
- Match the known number with an existing customer file, in order to get up to speed before calling back.
- Forward the resulting voicemail to the mailbox or call inbox of the appropriate agent.
Successful service automation is very much a matter of picking your battles. However, if done right, automation can take the repetitive, time-consuming, and thankless after call work tasks away from your agents, freeing them up to attend to more customer-facing duties.
One way of expediting after call work and encouraging agents to give it their all is to make the whole process into a game. Gamification most often applies to customer engagement, but it can keep agents engaged as well.
Displaying your KPIs for the whole team to see improves performance, since everyone has a competitive streak. If you can create a link between performance and a reward, even better. The reward could be a cash bonus, of course, or a commendation, a charitable donation, or a gift. Getting personal with these rewards will boost morale and encourage agents to perform their after call work dutifully.
Support agents need support themselves; this is why you need to have tools at their disposal to help them pull off after call work without a hitch.
Put together a knowledge base
Your after call work process will evolve through time. To keep up with these changes and save agents hesitation, you could set up a knowledge base. This collection of tips and guidance will assist agents when they’re in a pinch, while encouraging them to be responsible and self-reliant.
Self-support resources help your customers as much as your agents, who can refer to them in times of need. Keep your knowledge base comprehensive and up-to-date. You’ll find that agents are more proactive and more confident in their own abilities.
Sometimes, your knowledge base or training won’t suffice to help an agent faced with a tricky procedure. After call work is often repetitive, and that means that when an unusual situation arises, your agents might need assistance.
To keep your team performing well, agents needs to be operating as one. Look into tools designed to encourage communication within your call center team. It’s important for agents to feel empowered to act on their own; however they should feel comfortable to turn to teammates or managers when they need to. With the right tools, your team will be able to ace their after call work, and delight your customers.
What are your after call work struggles? Let us know!
In the meantime, have you looked into how Aircall’s call center software can benefit your team and your business?