Contact center agents don't just spend their time talking to customers. In most modern contact centers, such as Phone Masters Ltd, agents must also carry out various administrative tasks after they finish the call, which is why workforce planners must allow a certain amount of wrap (or wrap-up) time in daily schedules. In some cases, agents may misuse the wrap-up period to give themselves a breather, but there are also plenty of factors that only a contact center manager can control. Make sure you're not wasting valuable wrap time, and consider these five crucial reasons for inefficiency.
During wrap time, agents must often update customer details, add event notes or refer tasks to other departments. Some of these tasks are probably unavoidable, but you should also take time to make sure your contact centers are not compensating for broken business processes elsewhere.
For example, your business process may state that an agent has to record a change to a customer's contact details into event notes, when it's actually more productive to make sure this information is correct in another part of the system. This sort of effort duplication is common in large organizations, where 'strange' habits develop simply because somebody once decided the work was necessary.
Contact center managers must make sure they have lean, efficient working practices, with clear documentation or knowledge management tools that everyone can refer to. It's also a good idea to make it clear to agents that they can (and should) always flag any tasks that seem unnecessary or a waste of time to you.
If your systems don't do what you need them to, it's nearly always your contact center agents who suffer and have to compensate. System issues and downtime can cost as much as $72,000 per hour, but contact center agents sometimes also have to work around ongoing or 'known' problems on a regular basis.
Legacy IT systems are often unwieldy and expensive to upgrade. As such, many businesses decide to adopt workarounds to avoid these costs. As a result, contact center agents must often manually type information into a field that the system should allow them to update with a single key stroke.
A single workaround could lead to hours of unnecessary wrap work every day. As such, it's important that you work with your IT and change departments to identify and manage every issue. As part of the change control process, make sure you clearly articulate the 'real' cost of these workarounds, as many businesses fail to understand the impact these decisions can have.
Wrap work often occurs because the agent doesn't know how to complete tasks efficiently. In some cases, he or she can easily update the customer database on one screen, but the agent may think they have to enter details into several fields. In some case, agents may not even understand useful steps like setting up a three-way call on the phone system. Contact center managers must make sure that coaches pick up on and fix these knowledge gaps during call monitoring sessions, or your agents will continue to waste wrap time.
Failure to use management information
Modern phone systems offer contact center managers a wealth of management information, and you can normally track productivity hourly, daily and over a longer period. If you don't understand what the numbers tell you, you can't really take action to resolve any issues, so it's vital that contact center managers take time to make the best use of management information.
Spend time with your workforce analysts to understand every measure. Check reports daily, and flag anomalies before you speak to your agents. Over time, you will learn how to spot worrying trends in behaviour that you need to discuss with your agents. In many cases, months pass before contact center managers address poor performance because they just don't use the tools that the phone system gives them.
Inadequate target setting
Accurate targets are vital to any efficient contact center, and it's important that you continually check that the current numbers are fit for purpose. Many factors can influence wrap time, so it's important to install a regular review process.
Factors that can influence your wrap time target include:
- Phone service changes and upgrades
- Changes in legislation and compliance requirements
- Organizational changes (where teams pick up or discard certain tasks)
- Customer contact strategy
You should thoroughly review targets at least once a quarter. The responsibility for this work may sit with your workforce planning team, but contact center managers still play an important role in this work.
Wrap time is a crucial part of almost every contact center, but managers must make sure their agents use this time effectively. Make sure you have the controls in place that give you confidence you are not wasting valuable call time.