Redefine How Your Call Centre Agents Absorb Information
Posted by Perry de Jager
March 28, 2018
An average customer’s attention span is less than that of a goldfish, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. While a goldfish can focus its attention for 9 seconds, in 2015 customers were found to lose interest after only 8, down from 12 seconds in 2000. The reduced attention span, makes the initial impression all the more critical, especially in a call centre environment.
But call centre agents are overloaded with text-based information, spread across several systems, all of which are dull and unexciting. How can you empower your agents to successfully engage with a customer within the critical first seconds of a call, and beyond?
If you’re faced with the challenge of optimising a call centre’s performance, this is likely a big problem area you’re looking at solving.
Represent information visually
While we can be more descriptive when we are conveying information via text, it does take longer to reach an individual’s brain. It only takes 0.25 seconds to process visual content, some 60 000 times faster than text. Evolutionary speaking, we have developed the ability to quickly process visual information, as we’ve used visual communication for 30 000 years, with the written word only being around for the last 3700. In fact, even in today's age, it's estimated that 90% of all information that comes to the brain gets conveyed visually. And with 40% of nerve fibres to the brain connected to the retina, it’s no wonder our minds are well-versed in translating colours, images, body language and other visual data.
In your call centre, instead of just having visual wallboards with KPI information or internal information, why not take this practice beyond and apply it to customer information? By representing customer information with pictures, your agents will easily be able to discern who they are talking to – a young woman or a middle-aged man? Represent account information with colours: red if they are high risk, orange if medium and green if low risk, or represent how the previous interaction went with the same colours. Your agents will get an overview of the caller and relationship quickly and be able to spend the critical first part of the call interacting with the customer, instead of trying to dig through data.
Collate information in one place
Jumping between systems and screens to collect all information (even if it’s represented visually in each of the systems) can be disrupting. Every system has a unique interface, and even when focussed on one task: getting the information needed to engage with this customer, shifting from screen to screen is akin to multitasking.
According to a scientific study, evidence suggests that although the time taken to switch may be small, they can quickly add up to substantial amounts when switching back and forth repeatedly occurs, as would happen in a call centre. This suggests that although it's not immediately evident that there is a cost associated, there may be more time spent and it could involve more errors. The study concluded, saying that shifting between tasks could cost as much as 40% of the productive time.
Your agents would save a lot of valuable time throughout the day, as well as within the first, valuable seconds if all critical information about a customer were displayed in one interface, saving them the need to jump between applications.
According to a report in 2017, there are 2.2 billion active gamers in the world, with consumers spending more time than ever playing games – especially millennials, who make up a large part of the workforce in call centres currently. When you play a game, and you do well, your brain’s reward centre gets stimulated. This happens in several ways.
When you are rewarded, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone. By associating positive emotions with achievements, participants are prompted to repeat the “good behaviour”.
The hippocampus (an area in the lower section of the brain) is responsible for knowledge recall. Gameplay has been shown to stimulate strong hippocampal activation.
By introducing gamification in a call centre, you can keep agents motivated to perform well and meet their targets, and you could introduce a reward system for learning. Introducing gamification to encourage processing and retention of customer and account information quickly to retain engagement within the first seconds of a call, especially to a centre staffed with millennials, will result in improved success rates.
Perry has been involved in Collections and Recoveries for the past 12 years, spending time in different market segments ranging from law firms to investment companies. At Principa, Perry has worked on extended projects within both South Africa and the Middle East with some of the largest financial organisation, providing on-site consulting within the collections and recoveries space covering strategy, process, people and technology.