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Guest Blog: Contact Center Skills – focus investment, improve customer service, save money - Calabrio - Blog

Guest Blog: Contact Center Skills – focus investment, improve customer service, save money

A recent McKinsey study of 150 call center leaders found that focused investments are needed to improve the skills of contact center agents in both service and sales, and to hire new ones who can handle increasingly complex interactions, in order to cope with changing consumer needs and contact preferences.

This is hardly surprising. The world is rapidly moving towards a sophisticated combination of automation for low value transactions and inquiries, and rich, personalized customer experiences that have the potential to deliver strong differentiation. And this is already translating into smaller teams of highly skilled agents equipped to provide ‘exceptional’ customer service, improve customer engagement, create cross and upsell opportunities, and prevent increasingly demanding customers from defecting.

The same study found that nearly half (47%) of the executives surveyed rated ‘investing in new technologies’ as one of their top priorities over the next five years. So on one hand, contact center leaders need to improve agent skills and recognize that technology investments are required. Yet, as we all know, on the other hand, there is often significant pressure to reduce operational costs. An effective workforce management (WFM) solution will help to cut costs, particularly when combined with improving agent performance.

Therefore, it makes complete sense to adopt an approach that addresses significant improvements in agent performance as well as reducing operational costs. Given the sheer ‘scale’ of the challenge faced by contact centers – often hundreds and thousands of staff are employed – the only way to do this is to pinpoint and replicate key skills and behaviors that deliver the best business outcomes at an individual level – i.e. to address each agent’s specific competency requirements and skill gaps. So how do you do this?

Benchmark employee skills and knowledge
Knowing what skills and knowledge your employees have is crucially important before you can analyze links to positive business performance. Benchmark using all available performance data – sales reports, quality management scores, length of service, training undertaken, etc. – making sure they are values that can be analyzed later and common amongst groups that require comparison.

Determine a clear goal
This is crucial as it drives the direction of any analysis and without clear goals or objectives it is difficult to achieve a real performance gain since you don’t really know what you’re looking for or want to achieve! Plus you’ll waste time and money and be little the wiser at the end of your analysis!

Pinpoint which skills and knowledge are linked to the best business outcomes
Once you have determined your goal, use analytics to identify the causal skills and knowledge factors that are driving the desired business outcomes. Continue by analyzing your best performers but remember, ‘best’ should not be a subjective view. Use available data and analytics to agree the definition of ‘best’ that most accurately fits the organization and its goals and objectives. A competence management solution within a WFM solution goes a long way to show what best performance looks like by pinpointing the key skills of top performers, what they are doing differently/better and how they achieve it.  Once gaps have been identified a solution such as Teleopti Competence Manager, flags the best course of action by replicating desirable profiles.

Find and fill gaps
Use analytics to pinpoint skills and knowledge gaps and unearth trends in skill improvements – i.e. which actions are having the most positive impact. The output of this analysis should then be used to make sensible decisions about what development is required: who needs what skills and knowledge – at an individual level.

Test and refine
Continue cyclic measurement and analysis and continue to take relevant, focused actions to maintain positive performance improvements. Analytics should be a continuous investment as, when used over the longer term, it will ensure investment in the right areas based on measured, focused, repeatable proven patterns of improvement rather than perceived areas of need.

It’s clear that the days of an expensive ‘one size fits all’ approach to employee performance optimization are over. A targeted approach not only reduces cost, it also helps employees to do a better job for customers as well as to continuously improve themselves – key drivers to improving and sustaining employee motivation and engagement. In the contact center, these benefits have the potential to reduce unauthorized absence, attrition, recruitment & training costs, and improve key operational metrics such as first contact resolution (FCR), average handling time (AHT) and productivity.

It’s widely accepted that top performing organizations know who their best performers are and exactly why they perform the way they do. They know how to align performance optimization to individual needs and business goals. Granted, the ability to do this may require an investment in technology, but if that leads to more purchases, higher levels of customer retention, more engaged agents, reduced operational costs, and increased profitability, that’s money well spent.

/Amanda Westwood


Publish Date: November 4, 2016 5:00 AM

2021 Buyers Guide Training


Call Centers
Contact Centers
Admin Training
Supervisor Training

Davis-Mayo Associates

"Service Excellence" Customer Service Training
Live onsite training for your teams. Experienced by more than 450,000 people in 48 US states and 18 countries. No-nonsense approach by our experts with field-test content customized to your situation and using your scenarios.


Happitu is your customer support team’s personal coach. It guides your team through every interaction with custom workflows, responsive scripting, and dynamic help topics. As a result, Happitu slashes training time, delivers higher resolution rates, and reduces handle times.

Documentation in Happitu is automated, detailed, and consistent. Go beyond handle times and service levels with the rich insights of Happitu – from granular interaction data to aggregate data and trends – you get the complete CX journey!

We intentionally built the Happitu Workflow Designer with your customer support team in mind. Using our intuitive tools that provide quick and safe iteration, you eliminate the...
(read more)
PH: 833-427-7488

Lieber & Associates

Training Executives, Managers, Supervisors, and Reps
Lieber & Associates provides training for all levels of the contact center team. The firm customizes its off-the-shelf trainings to meet your specific company needs,

Executive and manager sessions address topics such as customer experience, metrics, technology, AI, and video calls. Supervisor sessions train your leaders to better coach and motivate reps. Phone staff modules include sessions on customer service, order-taking, cross-selling, handling difficult calls, phone "soft skills," and more.
PH: +1-773-325-0608

Manitoba Customer Contact Association

Making Training and Development Part of Your Corporate Landscape

Organizations are always on the look out to save money and make more profit. Usually when it comes to crunch time some leaders will scrap training in order to tighten the belt. The downside of this is the cycle it creates.

Because some employers see training as a flexible benefit, employee development is often taken off the table. When employees don’t feel valued it becomes easy to see a revolving door. The constant need to hire goes up which ultimately means costs go up; we know that hiring costs more than retaining the right people.

Start the conversation: Explore our Training Page
(read more)
PH: 204-975-6468


CSAT.AI Scores Better Customer Service with Gamified Guidance!

CSAT.AI lets agents know when they’re on the right track by predicting CSAT scores in real time (when they’re fixable!) - because most customers don’t leave feedback, they just leave.

Agents have the immediate positive feedback that reinforces good behaviors for self training.
PH: 323-380-8555

OMNI HR Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Human Capital & Organisational Development
Omni HR Consulting provides business and people development solutions through Training and Consulting services.

We work across a number of sectors to provide solutions from both a Skills Development / Business perspective.

Skills Development: accredited & non-accredited learning solutions including Learnerships, RPL solutions and Skills Programmes, including a curriculum for developing future skills.

Business Solutions: are designed to be customisable, relevant and industry-related to support businesses to achieve their strategic objectives and needs.
PH: +27 21 685 9160

Orion Learning Services Inc.

Learning & Development
Learning & Development for Agents, Supervisors, Managers and Administration/Support Staff

Orion Learning is a global leader in providing accredited learning and development solutions for organizations globally. We offer call/contact center certification programs for Agents, Supervisors and Managers, business certifications and examinations for wide range of topics including project management, change management and service management, leadership soft skills and a full suite of assessment tools which can be used for recruitment, talent management, succession planning and coaching/mentoring. We deliver our solutions to global community and all of our solutions are delivered digitally.
PH: 1-416-992-5158


VADS Training Center
PT VADS Indonesia as a Learning Center provides trainers, modules, development programs for individuals and teams. VADS Indonesia owns a vast curriculum for training provided by local trainers with flexible training locations that can be arranged at the client's place or PT VADS Learning Center. VADS Provide knowledge process, transformation consultancy, customer service training, leadership training, interpersonal development, and training for trainers.

Benefit :
- Customizable training by experienced trainers
- Increase motivation and engagement
- Improves customer service skills and knowledge
PH: 0217991445

The Forum

Get connected to raise standards. Established in 2000, we are celebrating 20 years of best practice, our community of professionals is recognised as the ‘go-to place’ for innovation in customer operations, from contact centre and digital to field, back office, branch & retail services, working across all industry sectors.

We offer an independent and trusted space for learning and sharing, proud to welcome members are into a thriving and active community to network with other like-minded professionals. Benchmark against the best in class and learn from innovators and pioneers. Our team of independent experts can also offer bespoke advice, consultancy and training. We have helped many organisations develop the capability of their vital support functions.
PH: +44 (0)3331235960

View more from Calabrio

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Data is everything in the new era of customer serviceMay 20, 2019 5:00 AM
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Guest Blog: There’s a brighter future for contact centre agentsApril 12, 2019 5:00 AM
Centralized or de-centralized WFM: 5 ways to strike the perfect balanceApril 8, 2019 5:00 AM
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Evaluating if the integration between your WFM & CX platform will be a big “Yes”February 25, 2019 5:00 AM
The whole organization is a customer service center – not everyone knows it yet!February 4, 2019 5:00 AM
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