At the 2018 Contact Center Week (CCW) Executive Exchange, the topic of average speed of answer (ASA) seemed to be top of mind for a lot of attendees. It was certainly a topic that came up during the roundtable discussion we moderated, which included:
- Weslee Berke, Director of Customer Service for BOXED;
- Michelle Hendrix, Director of Customer Engagement, Cafepress;
- Rhonda Hughes, Director, Commercial Services Business Planning at Biogen;
- Michael Tremblay, Director, Customer Relations for Air Canada; and
- Donald Hicks, Vice President of User Services at Twitter.
ASA times have far-reaching implications both from a customer and client standpoint. By reducing ASA times, your organization can grow in surprising ways.
What effects do ASA times have on your organization and how can your contact center achieve better metrics?
Improve Engagement and Employee Happiness
As many call center managers know, most customers who call in aren’t reaching out to talk about what a good job you’re doing. Calls are likely due to a problem or frustration with a product or service, and callers stuck in waiting queues are more likely to be angry, frustrated, or emotional once their call is answered.
In fact, according to Michael Tremblay of AirCanada, 85% of contact at call centers is considered “bad contact.”
Shortening ASA times are one way to ease a customer’s frustration once their call is answered. The faster an agent answers a customer call, the higher service levels tend to be.
When ASA times are long, your employees absorb the full brunt of a customer’s negativity, which means they take on more stress. If long ASA times are a pattern at your contact center, it is more likely your employees will become disengaged or unhappy, and data shows that disengaged or unhappy employees are more likely to leave an organization.
According to IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute
- 40% of employees leave their job because they are unhappy with it
- 46% of employees would accept another position if the opportunity arose
- 19% of millennials are looking to exit their company, and 50% of millennials would consider another job opportunity even if they weren’t looking to leave
Turnover is difficult to manage in our current hiring landscape. By improving ASA times, you can experience a more positive work environment with higher engagement levels.
Build Long-Term Employees
If the frustration of high ASA drives employees to leave, you’re taking the hit on more than just the dollars and cents of turnover. You’re also losing industry knowledge, which can be just as costly.
Agents who have been at the job longer are inherently better at their jobs—they’ve seen more. More specifically, they are better equipped to raise your first contact resolution (FCR) rate.
The FCR measures the percentage of customer issued calls that are resolved the first time. As you can imagine, more experienced reps can help handle calls better. The faster calls are resolved, the better for everyone. Customers are happy, and your workforce has less on their plate. This snowball effect eventually leads to a lower ASA.
For example: Faster service > Less call backlog > Shorter queue > Lower ASA.
The higher the FCR, the more productive your workforce can be.
Help Maintain Healthy Staffing Levels
One call center at CCW Executive Exchange with a workforce of 70 people was asked point blank, “What can you do to bring your ASA down to one minute?”
Get five more people on board.
Low staffing numbers mean there aren’t enough reps, which creates higher ASA times. Low staffing numbers also indicate a future imbalance of new vs. tenured employees. A young workforce can lower FCR rates. High ASA and FCR increase frustration, turnover, and staffing gaps.
It’s a vicious cycle.
Turnover has a direct impact on your bottom line. Apart from shelling out the cost-per-hire each time, it also can create client churn. Data shows that 10% of turnover = 1% client loss.
Healthy staffing levels mean healthy productivity.
Improve Sales Per Hour
If negative calls increase turnover, what can a positive call do? A strong ASA has a correlation to higher sales.
By offering prompt and helpful service, the tone of the call is more favorable. A fast ASA shifts the perception from frustration to one that shows your company cares about the customer’s wants and needs.
This positivity is the difference between landing an upsell/cross-sell or not. By improving metrics at your call center, you’re directly contributing to top-line growth.
How to Improve Productivity and ASA
Identifying the opportunities that exist from improved ASA is one thing, actually improving the metric is another. At CCW Executive Exchange, several ideas were proposed.
The rise of automation and AI in the call center
A considerable amount of CCW Executive Exchange was spent acknowledging there is a lot that can be done mechanically to boost metrics like ASA and FCR in contact centers.
AI can help us proactively understand what the caller’s issue is, and can further decipher the likely direction of the call. After each call, it is also possible to analyze what the successful reps are doing better to help fine-tune training and reward successful reps.
On a more fundamental level, automation can also improve call routing and cross-departmental communication, as many call centers are siloed. In a nutshell, automation can make a contact center far more productive.
Conducting pulse and eNPS surveys
Can you ensure your employees are engaged? While monitoring calls for quality assurance may give you a qualitative view of how each employee is doing, or how the tone of the calls may skew, it’s not quantitative data on employee engagement.
One way to receive quantitative, actionable data is to send pulse surveys or eNPS surveys on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis to track employee engagement. Analyzing and acting on employee feedback is a great way to empower your employees and show them you’re listening to their needs.
By paying attention to engagement levels, you can get ahead of turnover and decreased productivity before it’s too late.
Call centers have difficulty maintaining healthy staffing issues. High turnover and recruiting issues are expensive to employers. Finding a way to improve happiness of current employees is a way to curb turnover and the associated costs.
One pain point we’re aware of is that contact centers usually staff low paying positions.
To stay competitive and attractive to your pool of candidates and employees, offer benefits that address this need. DailyPay can assist with financial stress and worry, can make it easier to recruit and retain employees for contact center positions.
Use a daily pay benefit to improve real-time adherence
Though it has little to do with ASA, we’d be remiss to ignore how real-time adherence (RTA) also impacts productivity in your call center. RTA discrepancies can cause:
- Inaccurate or inflated payouts
- Increased payroll paperwork
- Extra output from managers to resolve the issue
Finding a solution that incentivizes employees to track their time more accurately is a great way to save time and productivity which if not kept in check is a bottom line buster. Employees that have access to their wages each day may be more inclined to clock out accurately so they can access their earned by unpaid pay.
Learn how DailyPay can positively impact the RTA, productivity, engagement, and retention rates at your call center.