Think of a call center as a direct link between customers and your business – the function that focuses on meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
That’s because a well-functioning call center does not just answer calls, instead, it is a valuable tool to engage customers, answer their queries and objections, and increase sales.
As call center management takes center stage in customer service, obstacles like long wait times, high agent attrition, and data silos are the common and inevitable call center challenges you would face.
In this blog, we will discuss the top 8 challenges call centers are facing in 2023 and the solutions to navigate through these challenges.
Table of contents
8 Biggest Challenges Most Call Centers Face in 2023
No matter what the business, success depends on delivering a stellar customer experience (CX). Contact center challenges can be categorized into three subcategories: agent challenges, customer service (CS) challenges, and technology challenges.
Let’s take a closer look at these call center challenges and solutions.
A. Agent Challenges
Addressing the challenges call center agents face improves their performance and CX, thereby reducing costs.
Challenge 1: High attrition rates
Contact center attrition rates are as high as 42%, according to the 2022 NICE WEM Global Survey.
Some of the reasons why agents quit are:
- Burnout due to unrealistic performance expectations
- Stressful job environment due to rude customers
- No clarity on career growth and opportunities for advancement
- Lack of flexible schedule/shift options
- Lack of team collaboration and camaraderie
- Inadequate agent training
Increase employee engagement
Only one in three customer service agents are engaged, and disengaged agents are 84% more likely to look for a new job. In addition, replacing a lost agent costs $14,113 on average per employee.
To increase employee engagement, measures like offering competitive pay and benefits, remote work options, and flexible scheduling can help.
Frequent team meetings to discuss experiences, performance reviews, and emphasis on work-life balance increase engagement at the workplace.
Set up a rewards and recognition program
Contact center managers should recognize and reward agents through performance gamification, prizes, and leaderboards. This builds an atmosphere of trust and positive energy.
Allow agent autonomy
Allowing agents to take ownership of CS interactions and deal with customers based on judgment, experience, and collaboration improves agent satisfaction.
Challenge 2: Information is trapped in silos
When information is stored across different platforms in various formats, contact center agents cannot access it to answer customer queries. This leads to wasted time, duplicated effort, and low FCR rates.
Information also becomes outdated and loses its searchability when held by different departments that don’t speak to each other.
Create a single source of truth
Create a centralized knowledge repository, a comprehensive hub of information that can act as a go-to resource for your agents across all communication channels, including phone, chat, email, and more. Ensure your knowledge base is well-structured and has information broken down into easily navigable categories, topics, and sections.
Searchability is crucial to ensuring your agents derive value from your knowledge base. With the Generative AI boom, having a semantic search is all the more critical for your knowledge base. This will ensure agents can find accurate solutions quickly to deliver better customer experiences.
Make knowledge easy to consume for your agents
Imagine a customer calling your customer service rep seeking help to fix the temperature settings of their newly bought refrigerator. They tried a few settings here and there but in vain. Now, your agent needs to quickly rise to the challenge and ask them the right questions to identify the root cause of the problem.
The problem can arise out of multiple factors like power outages, temperature settings currently applied, any unusual sound coming from the appliance, etc. A detailed knowledge base article or flowchart, try as it might, cannot help the agent take the best course of action.
This is because static knowledge pieces fail to deliver the guided and contextual help an agent needs to troubleshoot the problem in real-time. Therefore, depending on the customer’s problem, ensuring that your agents can easily use knowledge to deliver value in real time is vital.
Knowmax’s decision trees help you turn complex standard operating procedures (SOPs) into simple, next best actions. The next best action approach empowers your agents to gather the right inputs from customers for accurate and faster problem-solving.
Seamlessly integrated with your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, decision tree steps can auto-fill customer data, creating personalized customer experiences and shorter call handling times at your call center.
Challenge 3: Low first contact resolution rates (FCR)
Among the myriad challenges call center agents face, low FCR rate is one of the most prominent due to:
- Complicated call resolution procedures
- Outdated tools that don’t speak to each other
- Static knowledge bases
- High attrition rate leading to loss of shared knowledge
- Burnout due to heavy workloads
For every 1% increase in FCR, customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) also increase by 1%.
Implement these techniques to improve your FCR:
Establish self-service portals
Self-service portals and systems empower customers to tackle issues themselves before approaching the customer care helpline. Setting up knowledge base systems, online discussion forums, video walkthroughs, visual guides, and FAQ pages not only helps the customer find solutions to simple problems but also reduces the overall call volumes.
Use call routing
Automatic call distributors (ACD) route calls to different departments depending on the customer’s requirements. The system automatically assigns the most capable service agents based on strict call routing parameters.
B. Customer Service Challenges
Customer service-related challenges arise due to poor customer service strategy, lack of personalization, and limited collaboration between agents.
Challenge 4: Long call wait times
Naturally, your customers would get frustrated with long call wait times. Contact centers with longer wait times have lower CSAT scores, which leads to loss of business.
Longer wait times can be caused by:
- Increased call volume during seasonal peaks and technical glitches
- Lack of agents
- Inadequate agent training programs
- Absence of smart queueing and call routing systems
Implement smart queueing systems
A smart queueing system manages incoming calls and re-routes them to available agents, thus distributing the burden across the workforce. It also prioritizes calls from high-priority customers. Contact center managers use it to monitor the waiting duration and the total number of waiting customers, amongst other things
Offer appointments to callers
Instead of making customers wait, you can let them book their interactions in advance. This ensures agents can handle queries quickly, workloads are distributed evenly, and waiting times are reduced for other customers.
Leverage AI tools
AI-powered voice bots and virtual assistants direct customers toward the knowledge base. They offer solutions for simple problems like password resetting, order tracking, appointment scheduling, etc.
Challenge 5: Lack of personalized customer interactions
According to the SQM Group, 76% of customers expect a personalized interaction while calling a company’s helpline.
Reasons for the lack of personalization could be:
- Information silos prevent the agent from accessing customer historical information Thus, the customer needs to repeat their problems and inconveniences multiple times
- Automating the entire customer service workflow removes the human touch
Personalization starts with collecting and leveraging customer data to your benefit.
Use systems with integration capabilities
Integrations between call center software, knowledge management systems, and CRM software enable agents to access past interactions, purchase history, and previously resolved complaints of customers.
Analyze customer data to offer a VIP experience
Analyzing customer data allows companies to segment customers based on their loyalty. Offering high-priority service to loyal customers increases retention rates.
Implement an omnichannel communication strategy
Omnichannel services allow the customer to jump between multiple communication channels, like texting and phone calls, without the need to repeat themselves every time.
Although initially expensive, omnichannel communication yields high ROI through increased customer loyalty and retention. According to a McKinsey report, 78% of customers were likely to repurchase from a brand due to personalized customer service experience.
Challenge 6: Lack of collaboration between agents
Lack of collaboration could be due to:
- Overemphasis on metrics like AHT and FCR leading to the neglect of quality collaboration between employees
- Skewed rewards and recognition programs that turn problem-solving into a competition
- Lack of growth opportunities
Offer a clear career path
With a clear career path, agents know about the milestones they need to achieve to get promoted. In addition, adding leadership and managerial milestones encourages them to collaborate.
Conduct group activities
Team building activities and group milestones foster collaboration, inspire them to work toward unified goals, and build personal relationships.
C. Technology Challenges
Using traditional tools and software is holding contact centers back from realizing cost savings.
Challenge 7: Legacy call center tech
One of the biggest challenges in call centers is the use of outdated tools, such as private branch exchange (PBX) systems, which hinder their ability to meet the demands of a dynamic customer service environment.
Although PBX systems were the go-to system for call centers in the past, voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) and session initiation protocol (SIP) have made calls more economical and easy to handle.
Reasons for the inability to transition to modern systems are:
- Scalability becomes a challenge when call centers have to handle fluctuating call volumes during peak times.
- Contact centers have limited ability to capture customer and agent interaction data for further analysis. The lack of reporting features prevents managers from getting actionable insights on agent performance.
Unified Agent Desktop
The unified agent desktop is a consolidated tool to help agents access tasks through different media such as email, calls, chat, and generic tasks. It involves the use of the following:
- Multichannel toolbar
- Application dispatcher
- Channel-specific workspaces
- Presence and status codes
- Task management.
Cloud-Based Contact Centers
Adopt scalable cloud solutions to efficiently handle fluctuating call volumes while ensuring optimal resource allocation.
AI-driven analytics tools gather actionable insights, predict customer needs, and enhance agent performance in real time.
Challenge 8. Technical glitches
Issues such as hardware failure, network issues, bugs, system overload, and data breaches are responsible for technical glitches occurring in call center operations.
Dropped phone calls, latency, and jitter can irritate customers and cause them to switch to competitors.
Maintain software and hardware
Technical glitches can be reduced if call center software and hardware are regularly maintained. Conduct system checks and testing in a planned way, including pentests, load tests, and stress tests.
Also, review and update your contact center data security protocols to ensure hackers cannot take advantage of vulnerabilities. Conduct regular agent training sessions on cybersecurity and offer support for troubleshooting technical issues.
Have a disaster recovery plan
A disaster recovery plan is a step-by-step outline that describes how vital infrastructure can be maintained in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. It also describes how to get critical systems up and running via the use of backup systems and redundancy.
Overcoming call center challenges in 2023 requires robust CX strategies that strike the right balance between fostering employee engagement, investing in cutting-edge contact center tools, and monitoring performance across the organization. This begins by first identifying the most difficult challenges your call center is facing and then developing strategies around them to devise the right solutions.
The blog listed the top challenges call centers face in 2023 and are expected to face beyond. At Knowmax, we improve your contact center metrics by eliminating knowledge silos across your organization and delivering guided and contextual knowledge to your agents and customers across touchpoints.
If you want to discuss your CX and KM challenges, talk to one of our Knowledge Management experts today!