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How to Optimize Your Call Center Service Levels

Just ask any call center manager what the biggest challenge he or she faces on a daily basis. Their answer will be: Service Level Optimization.

Image of a computer screen tracking call center service levels

Call center service level optimization is a challenge, a headache and a big reward all in one. Managing in a call center environment requires a daily battle to maintain high service levels based on key performance indicators (KPIs). Many factors come into play and they all must be finely tuned in order to keep customers and callers happy. Let’s dive a little deeper and look at how to optimize your call center service levels.

So why is service level important?
Service levels define the kind of call center business that you are. Service level is often spelled “P-E-R-F-O-R-M-A-N-C-E.” Poor service levels = poor performance. Call center managers must ensure quality service level not only on a daily basis, but even on an “every 15 minutes throughout the day” basis. All it takes is one long ring time to make a caller unhappy. And an unhappy caller can lead to unhappy customers. Call centers with unhappy customers don’t last long.

What are the factors one must consider to optimize call center service?
It’s not just all about how fast calls are answered or how long calls last. There are many factors to consider:

  • Call Center Agent (CSR) Efficiency
  • Staffing and Scheduling
  • Hiring and Training
  • Productivity
  • Quality
  • Daily reporting and statistical analysis
  • And more….

All factors MUST be taken into consideration simultaneously. But let’s focus on one of these – Reporting and Statistical Analysis. You must have a service level benchmark already established. Some call centers choose to answer calls on an 80/20 basis. This means that 80% of incoming calls are answered within 20 seconds or less. Every call center is different. Once a benchmark is established, you must manage to it. And then work to raise that benchmark.

How do you manage daily service levels?
Get your call center switch reports and analyze them daily. Have your stats broken down into 15-minute intervals. Look for service lapses and immediately address them. To do this, you must look at both staffing levels and agent efficiency at every single time period of the day. Are  you struggling during shift changes? Lunch times? At night? Once you identify the problem areas, you can start to bolster your under-performing time segments and your overall averages will improve. Once overall averages improve you can start to move your call center up to the next level of benchmark service.

So always remember to start by setting benchmarks to measure against. Then set up your reports. Analyze your reports against your benchmarks in 15 minute segments, hourly, daily, and weekly. Look for trends and identify problem areas. Make adjustments in the areas that could be leading to the problems. Measure the results and continue to improve.

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About Brian Gabriel

As the Call Center Manager for Sound Telecom, Brian is responsible for overseeing the daily operations and long term success of the company while managing a variety of inbound customer support programs. He also has a hand in taking care of the Solaxis services division. Prior to joining Sound Telecom, Mr. Gabriel held management positions with several prominent Internet Services companies including XpenseWise.com and Greatfood.com. Brian started his career in advertising and sales before moving to Washington State. He joined AEI Music in 1995 and supervised their international customer service department and technical support call centers. Brian received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish languages from San Diego State University. Brian teaches adult education at his church and actively supports Christian ministries.