How To Optimize Your Contact Center for Peak Performance

How To Optimize Your Contact Center for Peak Performance

Contact center customers don’t always behave the way we expect. Even though there are more self-service options than ever, customers are likely to call when they need help. Still, that doesn’t mean convenience isn’t important: customers still prefer AI-powered chatbots and help center articles to troubleshoot and answer quick questions.

It’s hard to know exactly how the convergence of technology and personalized care will change center operations in the future. That’s why creating a routine process for contact center optimization is vital. In this article, we break down the concrete steps you can take to improve your center’s operational efficiency and customer satisfaction across all digital channels.

What Is Contact Center Optimization?

Contact center optimization focuses on planning and strategy to improve your operational efficiency. Gathering customer feedback, setting goals and metrics, updating your processes, and training employees are all integral parts of contact center optimization. This has become increasingly more important with the proliferation of AI, which has contact center managers considering how they can provide a human-centric experience while leveraging AI to enhance customer satisfaction.

It’s crucial to understand that contact centers and call centers are not the same. While call centers primarily handle voice calls, contact centers manage customer inquiries across various digital channels, including SMS, email, social media, and phone. This distinction is key when it comes to optimizing these operations.

A Step-by-Step Guide To Optimize Your Contact Center

The process of contact center optimization begins with a comprehensive examination of customer success metrics and an assessment of agent performance. This data-driven approach allows you to identify areas for improvement and set clear, achievable goals. The next step involves updating processes and technology to align with these goals, ultimately leading to a positive impact on customer satisfaction.

Here are a few key steps to incorporate into your optimization strategy.

1. Assess Contact Center Metrics & Current Agent Productivity Levels

To keep pace with the most successful contact centers, you should monitor the right performance indicators across every stage of the customer journey so you can identify the biggest areas for improvement and create the right set of optimization goals. Your contact center agents may need more training or more specific scripts. You might also need to update your technology or revamp your entire digital intake procedure.

Let’s look at a few key metrics you should continually monitor for peak contact center operations and customer experience.

Contact Center Metrics to Track

Contact center managers should check in with these metrics weekly to make short-term iterations on their processes and agent performance. However, they should also monitor them over more extended periods, like every six months to a year, to uncover long-term trends that inform your predictive analytics. Investigate your previous interactions to see how they perform along the following indicators.

  1. CSAT: Your customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) show you how pleased companies are with your company’s products and services, and it’s measured on a scale from 0% to 100%, with the ideal ranging from 75% to 85% 
  2. Average Handling Time: Your average handling time (AHT) measures the amount of time, in minutes, for your average customer service interaction. It includes talk, hold, and wrap time; an ideal AHT should be under ten minutes. 
  3. First-touch Resolution Rates: Also called a first-contact resolution rate (FCR), this metric tells you what percentage of requests and questions are resolved upon first contact. Most contact centers aim for a score between 70% and 79%.
  4. Agent Productivity & Efficiency: You should track how long each center agent’s AHT, FCR, and survey scores to determine which employees may need more training and which may be ready for a promotion or more career development opportunities.
  5. SLA Compliance: A customer often signs a service level agreement (SLA) at the beginning of the service provider-customer relationship. This document outlines the service details, the standards the service providers will hold themselves to to encourage customer loyalty, and the metrics they’ll track.

How To Assess Agent Productivity

Get valuable insights into how your center agents operate every day and make data-driven decisions with the right tools. Discover how they spend their time both in and out of calls so you can ensure every agent uses their working hours to resolve customer inquiries as efficiently as possible. 

  • Use Employee Monitoring Software: With a platform like Teramind, you can label apps and websites as productive and nonproductive and track how much time employees spend using them.
  • Review Desktop Screen Recordings: Review recorded sessions to investigate how employees handle online customer interactions via email and chat. You can also see how they spent their screen time during a phone call to ensure they did everything possible to handle customer issues efficiently.
  • Measure Active vs. Idle Time: You can monitor agent performance across everything from email and instant messages to the number of keystrokes they log per user session. This data can show you how long it takes employees to finish their wrap-up tasks before they move on to the next customer query.

2. Define Clear Objectives

Use the SMART goal framework to create specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound objectives. For example, suppose your average first-touch resolution rates are consistently lower than you’d like them to be. In that case, it’ll be easier to follow through on increasing them with a more targeted objective like this:

“We want to increase our FCR from 65% to 70% in the next six months using more multi-channel blending techniques that allow customers to move between digital channels without having to restart the conversation with a different center agent.”

3. Implement the Right Technology

The right contact center technology can provide seamless, efficient service and create more consistent experiences across the board. They can also give you actionable insights to tweak contact center performance. Ensure you’re using the right center optimization software to reach your objectives:

  • Dedicated Contact Center Software: These platforms optimize contact center interactions with call handling, call routing, interactive voice response (IVR), and queue visualizations. Automating these processes allows center agents to focus solely on customer engagement.   
  • CRM: Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps connect your customer service, sales, support, and marketing teams so everyone is aligned on your product, messaging, and standards of care. This crucial technology gives you insights into customer behavior so you can tailor your contact center solutions to different customer segments.
  • Omnichannel Communication Channels: This solution helps create a seamless customer experience by connecting online and offline channels like websites, social media, email, and even physical stores and kiosks.    
  • AI & Automation: Today’s AI tools can manage many aspects of contact center operations, from transcribing calls to analyzing CRM data to routing customers to digital channels when call volume is high.

4. Implement Process Improvement & Agent Training Programs

There are a few ways to better map agent expertise to customer needs, largely depending on which customer relationship management metrics and processes you want to improve. For example, it may serve your contact center teams best to ensure everyone is a “super agent” generalist who can handle most customer queries, thus providing a seamless customer experience and minimizing your queues and incoming call volume.

On the other hand, you may find intelligent call routing better serves your customer engagement scores. This lets you implement skill-based routing and segmenting, matching specific customer inquiries with agents with the right expertise to handle their issues. Whatever operations model you choose, ensure it aligns with your company’s mission and objectives rather than clinging too closely to ever-evolving industry standards.   

5. Monitor & Analyze Performance

If you want your objectives, technology, and agent training to have the intended effect, you’ll want to analyze how they’re working in real-time with the following best practices:

  • QA Process: Revisit performance metrics like your post-call analytics, CSAT, AHT, and FCR to see what impact your contact center optimization strategies are making. Also, monitor your attrition rates and employee engagement levels for correlating changes.
  • Real-Time Analytics: Real-time monitoring and real-time dashboards allow you to track employee productivity throughout the day and make minor tweaks.
  • Collect Customer Feedback: Provide customers with several ways to complete your surveys, such as via chat, SMS, and email, so you can implement as much of their input into your strategy as quickly as possible.

6. Improve the Customer Experience

Today’s tools can make the customer experience more frictionless, but they can also hinder the quality of customer service by making it feel too automated and lacking human touch. Here are some of the essential ways you can improve service quality.

  • Provide Personalized Service: You should ensure that there’s always a human agent available to handle more severe issues that customers can’t solve by visiting your online support desk. This person should be ready to identify the customer by name and engage in active listening. You should also see that all of your help articles and self-service materials include bylines so that customers know a product expert wrote them and not by AI.
  • Proactive Support: Use the actionable insights you gather over time to predict future contact center interactions. For example, you know that customers often have to send multiple chats to fix complex issues with their accounts. In that case, you may immediately escalate similar queries to a phone call in the future to solve their problems more speedily.
  • Streamlined Processes: Most contact center agents will tell you that they tend. Deal with the same kinds of issues every day. Once you identify patterns around the questions customers raise, create repeatable processes for them so your employees don’t have to reinvent the wheel repeatedly.

7. Regularly Review & Adjust As Needed

Customer demands will always change as new technological advancements, information, and digital channels become available. That’s why regularly reviewing and iterating on your center’s workforce optimization strategy is non-negotiable. 

Don’t be afraid to use tried and proper strategic planning tools like the SWOT analysis or the McKinsey 7-S to ensure your company objectives and contact center workforce optimization strategies are truly aligned.

Also, remember that there’s not always one reason why a specific customer experience or agent performance metric could be falling. You may need to dedicate more resources to improving agent skills or bettering the employee experience rather than updating your processes or restructuring your teams. 

Why Your Contact Center Might Need Optimizing

Today’s customers are more tech-savvy than ever, which means they can handle many of their own issues before contacting a contact center. This matters to your center optimization practices because it means that the problems your human agents have to solve will become more complex, and the barriers to delivering high-quality service will increase.

Optimization and continuous improvement are crucial, from the most successful enterprise contact centers to small but mighty teams.

Let’s look at a few reasons why improving the quality of customer service might be a more urgent priority.

1. High Support Volume & Long Resolution Times

An increased support volume — the total number of customer interactions your contact center team has in a given period — might occur due to long resolution times — how long each agent takes to solve an issue. These issues also might indicate a lack of self-service options or a need for more agent training.  

2. Low CSAT Scores

If customers consistently give their contact center experience a low score, ensure you’re also digging into customer reviews and surveys. Do they feel your agents are unfriendly or have too many knowledge gaps? Did it just take too long to resolve their issue? This issue could point to inefficient processes, a need for agent development, or a poorly integrated technology stack.

3. High Agent Turnover Rates 

It’s no secret contact center turnover rates are high. However, if your agent turnover is high, that could impact the quality of service your entire team can provide. Ensure you invest in people-first workforce management practices, comprehensive training, and quality benefits to set your employees up for success.

4. Outdated Technology & Software

It’s not enough to say you utilize digital technology in today’s call centers. Customers today are looking for short wait times and seamless experiences across all communication channels so they don’t have to speak to multiple agents to resolve one issue. Thankfully, Teramind automates much of your productivity, performance, and security monitoring so you update your manual processes and focus on driving a better user experience.

5. High Operational Costs

An investment in infrastructure is often needed, but it can contribute to high operational costs, especially alongside staffing and technology expenses. Using employee productivity monitoring allows you to take a data-driven approach when identifying bottlenecks in your workflows and create more cost-effective processes.

6. Scalability Issues 

Meeting growing customer demand is a continuous challenge for any business, but it’s especially tough for contact centers looking to keep their AHT, support volume, and resolution time to a desired minimum. If this describes your center, investing in more automation and self-service may be time to take some of the pressure off your support team as you grow. 

7. Evolving Customer Expectations

Making informed decisions about the customer experience is hard as their behavior fluctuates over time. Predictive analytics can help as long as it can keep up with economic and technological changes.

8. Compliance Issues 

Customer contacts in government as well as the health and financial industries expect that agents and centers are doing their utmost to protect their sensitive data. Avoid compliance issues by using a data loss prevention platform like Teramind, which uses real-time monitoring to detect suspicious behavior and automatically blocks users from downloading and sharing sensitive files and information.


Contact center technology can do a lot of heavy lifting to improve your center management and drive more efficient operations. But it can’t totally overcome your customers’ need for human agents to help them solve their complex issues.

That’s why the best contact center optimization strategies address the factors affecting contact center performance and agent performance. Moreover, they use behavior analytics tools like Teramind, which utilizes real-time monitoring to provide actionable insights into employee productivity while offering the security features you need to keep your customer data safe.