In a previous article, Age of Unified Communications and Your CRM, I discussed the benefits of integrating your Unified Communications (UC) solution with your CRM (like Salesforce.com or SugarCRM). One of the advantages of this type of phone system integration is having screen pops that make it easy for your sales and customer service teams to log call details. It also provides quick access to existing customer information, enabling outbound-focused teams to have better conversations with customers and prospects. Digging into the data sourced by your UC system can provide an untapped stream of knowledge for other key employees, too – including your call center manager.
How Do UC Systems Improve Call Center Manager Roles?
A call center manager holds a critical, and often stressful, role within the organization. Responsibilities often include: handling call volumes to agents, shifting staffing levels, and coaching new call center employees. UC systems can make these demanding tasks much easier so that the manager can focus on what really matters, which is improving service by coaching his staff. This wasn’t always the case, however.
In the age of analog phone systems, getting a more complete solution that enabled some level of data retrieval required paying for expensive add-on features or services, such as call recordings, call queue, and call reporting. Not only would the “add-on” features have to be purchased separately, but integrating them with the analog system and managing them was often a nightmare for everyone involved. The integration process was so cumbersome, it usually ended up with the company hiring an additional in-house team member (someone with specific experience), or paying expensive consultant fees to outsource managing and extracting data from the systems.
On top of all that unexpected overhead, it could also take days to receive the requested call logs from your IT department. Even then, managers had to hope everything was provided, as needed, from the cobbled phone system, and that there were no gaps in the data. This delay and potential missing data could cause staffing decisions to be slow to business demands.
Fast forward a few years and there’s a big difference in the speed and accuracy of the data collected, not to mention the ease of management and the reduced cost. UC solutions now provide web-based access with an access control list (ACL), which puts the power in the manager’s hands, allowing him or her to easily extract information such as queue logs and status, concurrent calls by agent, and call log details to track number of calls received and placed by hour/days/week.
Phone System Data Matters
Data, even that from your business phone system, tells an important story that helps shape decisions. In fact, the level of detail and ease of access that advanced UC features provide to a company allows managers to make real-time or near real-time decisions, especially where staffing is concerned. Has your company launched a new product and your team needs to be trained? When is the best time of day to take your agents off the phone without impacting your queue wait times? In the graph above, you can see an example showing number of calls by hour, and that at 3 pm in the afternoon, the call volume drops to almost nothing. A manager can see this data and quickly know that period of time is ideal for pulling agents offline for training; similarly, the data indicates an extreme number of calls at 9 am and understands that a full staff is required to adequately manage the morning call volume.
Call center managers cannot monitor all calls at the same time, but he or she can review calls at a later date with call recordings. Your UC phone system should make this super easy by allowing the IT manager, or call center manager with proper ACL, schedule which queues or agents (and what type of calls – inbound, outbound, or all) to record. The system can even off-load the recording to an FTP server for easier access. Not only can this be used for training, but if you have issues with customer expectations you can listen to the call recording to find out what was promised.
Most call center managers are often actively training agents and may not be able to watch the queue metrics in real-time. There are scheduling options that can be utilized in this case. The manager can receive an email hourly and/or daily with the details of the call queues, including average wait time, average entry position (into the queue), number of abandoned calls, or even maximum wait time. All of this data, delivered straight from the phone system, provides enhanced visibility into business operations and allows you to react to and change the staffing of the queue.
In an age of instant results, having a view into the data from your UC system is critical. The phone system, along with access to the right data from the system, can empower your company to better service your customers by helping call center managers quickly and proactively make staffing changes for call volumes.