6 Common Call Center Mistakes to Avoid

All around the world and in almost every industry, there are call centres making these easy but inevitably disastrous mistakes.

Even with the traditional call centre being replaced by seemingly more efficient and capable ‘contact centres ‘ or ‘information centres’, many businesses are still tempted by the shortcuts that may lower initial costs but can wreak havoc with their customer satisfaction and retention rates.

Take a look at these 6 call centre mistakes that are commonly made by businesses and take care to ensure that yours doesn’t follow suit.

1.     Not Enough Focus on the Customer Experience

This might sound so obvious it seems impossible to overlook; however a large number of call centres fail to take this into account when drawing up rules and practices for their reps.

Pressures and expectations regarding the number of calls taken in a shift and the length of these calls can lead to many customers’ problems not being resolved first time around. But experts agree that the highest level of customer satisfaction comes from first contact resolution (FCR), with no need for callbacks or follow-ups.

An Evaluagent study showed a significant variance of 21% between a company’s highest and lowest performers, but not a marked difference (just 5%) in the average handling time between the two. This suggested that it doesn’t take much longer to resolve a query first time around and that the most efficient reps aren’t necessarily the ones who take the most calls.

By not restricting reps to scripts, rules or allotted call durations, you’ll likely improve their productivity. The best reps usually ones who are experienced, motivated, relaxed, comfortable enough to ‘freestyle’ and empowered enough to make on-the-spot decisions that may sometimes go against ‘best practices’.

2.     Not Enough Staff or Resources

Call centres are often seen as a way to cut costs or to keep costs as low as possible. One way companies manage this is by reducing staff numbers, or relying on the same technology and equipment long after it has gone past its best.

What this ultimately leads to, unsurprisingly, is a sufficient decline in productivity and contact resolutions. Without enough staff, the pace of work will become too high for reps to handle…occupancy levels will be high whilst service levels will become low.

Not enough tools or resources to do their job accurately will result in a multitude of problems in itself. Problems that can be dealt with using a simple piece of CRM software, for example, can easily become the new norm if such software isn’t implemented and renewed regularly. These include failure to track calls; forgetting to follow up a customer’s call, and sometimes even two or more reps focusing on the same customer query because they didn’t realise it was already being taken care of.

3.     Outsourcing…Badly

Outsourcing can work, if done right. But unfortunately, so many businesses are doing it poorly.

Whilst there are many pros to outsourcing one’s call centre services (such as lowering costs of ownership; the need to maintain call-routing equipment, and the responsibility of hiring and training new employees), the cons can be all the more dangerous. Outsourcing can lead to reduced customer satisfaction due to lingual or communicative barriers, or staff not being trained or skilled enough to solve their problems.

Not only this – outsourcing often means giving up elements of control over crucial processes, and also the loss of knowledge that may be needed to grow your business. It is important to be careful with how much you outsource, to whom, and how much you will depend on it.

4.     Overdependence on Automated Tech

Technology and software that will enhance your reps’ performance is great, but only with the appropriate training of employees. Technology is useless if not being used efficiently or to its full potential…and as well know, machines can fail us.

Customers don’t want an automated phone message that tells them to press buttons depending on their problem; nor do they want automated email replies reiterating what they already know. Customers want to speak with a human that can empathise, understand and offer up a unique solution to their problem.

Automated tech can save heaps of time, but should not be used as a substitute for a more effective (albeit time consuming) solution.

5.     Inadequate Training

Drawing on the previous point, training your recruits is everything, yet so many call centres fail to do it. This is usually because call centres can have a high turnover rate, so most business-owners decide not to bother investing in quality training.

Besides the obvious fact that training is just about essential, it’s also worth noting here that training doesn’t have to be as expensive as you’d think. Online training tools; allowing new recruits to spend time in the call centre to observe other reps; inviting your most experienced customer gurus to get involved in the training process and initiating pilot groups are all innovative and cost-effective ways of ensuring your new soldiers become accustomed to the job.

Simple things like a library of free-to-use resources and ‘lunch-and-learn’ schemes are also tried and tested, and come highly recommended.

6.     Militant Time Schedules

Most call centre reps live a highly measured work lifestyle: allotted times for call durations; monitored bathroom breaks; strict clock-on/clock-off times and so on. It’s understood that time is of the essence in a call centre, but there’s no need for reps to lose their sense of personal freedom or feel confined to their headsets.

Not only does an overly-scheduled call centre rarely work; it also affects the customer experience due to rushed calls and much fewer FCRs.

In addition, it can be the largest cause of low morale within a call centre, creating disengaged, unmotivated and perhaps even downright bitter employees, who no longer feel good about helping their customers. This leads to slower resolution rates, fewer resolutions overall, and faster turnover if your reps decide they want to jump ship.

In order to hold onto your people, you need to treat them right. Establish what is expected of them during training,…then let their own personal style take the lead. You customers will thank you for it.


Adele Halsall is a writer and researcher for Customer Service Guru. She is passionate about retail and consumer trends, and how this is shaped and governed by advertising and social marketing. She is particularly experienced in marketing and customer engagement. Her knowledge and expertise, which come from first hand experience working in the customer service industry and extensive research into the industry in her current role, have led to her having articles published on several major leading customer care and consumer industry blogs, as well as in a handful of up and coming trade magazines.