Six Ways to Reduce Call Handling Times

By Mike Banbrook August 7, 2023

Every call centre has a balancing act to play; while reducing the amount of time your agents spend on the phone will keep operating costs down, it’s critical to make sure your attempts to increase efficiency don’t compromise the quality of customer service you’re delivering. A dissatisfied customer will almost certainly eventually result in a loss elsewhere in your business.

If you’re thinking of setting up a new call centre or modernising an established one – no matter how big or small – these are some of the best ways to reduce your average call handling times while giving your customers an efficient and bespoke customer service experience.

Prepare agents with information about calls before they pick up

Traditionally, when calls land in a call centre, agents are left to build customer interactions from scratch, spending a significant proportion of their time learning about the nature of a call. Usually, the only information agents have before they start is what category the customer selected from a limited numerical menu.

A call routing system like Oration that greets callers through speech recognition can completely change the game. With this capability, the nature of a call is automatically determined from a customer’s natural verbal response and the information is passed straight to the agent’s screen, so they can dive straight into a resolution. On average, agents will save between 15 to 30 seconds if they can see key information up front before beginning their interaction.

For example, imagine a caller asks about a specific product; the agent can either pull up those details first and launch straight into the discussion, or if it’s out of stock, they can be ready to inform the caller of delivery timeframes or alternative options.

Give your callers information before directing them to an agent

Targeted banners aren’t just a deflection tool; they can play a huge role in reducing your agent’s time on the phone by providing up front information before offering the chance to speak with someone.

In the instance where a customer calls about an item that’s out of stock, sharing this information before directing the call to an agent reduces time on the phone because the caller will probably start with their next question: “What are the alternatives?”

Politely deflect calls that don’t require agent attention

In principle, targeted banners that automatically play information to callers are nothing new. But call centres with traditional call routing systems usually only have a small number of generalistic banners to play in response to customers’ menu selections – an approach that’s far too general to get right with everyone and puts many callers through unnecessary delays.

Because Oration’s call routing system knows why someone is calling from their natural speech, you can set up an unlimited number of highly targeted, very specific banners which are delivered to only those callers who will find them useful. Better still, you can continually monitor and identify common call profiles daily, so you can add, remove, and adjust your banners to deflect the maximum number of calls.

Gather detailed caller information

With a call routing system that understands your customers’ responses like Oration, you can configure it to go the extra mile by gathering crucial information your agents’ will need.

For example, it could be as simple as automatically asking for an order number, but if you’ve got customers calling for timetables or scheduling information, why not configure the system to ask for details like ‘from’ and ‘to’ destinations, dates, and times – all of which can be passed to agents to help them resolve the query quicker.

Improve agent competency with call split upskilling

Irrespective of your call routing system, the raw skill of agents has a lot to do with the speed at which they reach resolutions. And one of the biggest obstacles to agents becoming highly proficient in certain fields or processes is getting enough practice in relevant real-life situations. Fortunately, technology can help.

Oration by Convai allows you to set up specialist queues for agents related to their training, enabling you to dramatically improve the retention of information they’ve learned. It also means you have the potential to get new agents on the phones faster, because you can make sure they won’t receive call types they’re not ready for.

Identify opportunities to switch channels

Imagine a scenario where a customer calls for a pricing structure, rates, or a detailed explainer of product or service features; it could take agents considerable time to verbalise this information and the caller is still left without anything tangible to take away.

Indeed, customers might contact your call centre for information they can’t find elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean the phone always is the best. In the right circumstances, Oration can give callers the option switch to digital messaging where interactions can be quickly resolved by sharing infographics, graphs, and tables (which agents are probably using themselves).

Thanks to software as a service (SaaS) solutions like Convai’s Oration, you don’t need to roll out expensive development projects to achieve any of these goals. By implementing the right up-to-date solutions in your call centre, you can empower agents to act faster in reaching resolutions while offering alternative ways to solve queries without any human intervention involved – everyone can be a winner.

Download our large Australian retailer case study to learn how Oration helped achieve a reduction of up to 30 seconds in average call handling times.

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