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Call centers are known for their fast-paced environments. Agents are rated on how fast they get through a call while delivering the best possible service. While the focus on volume drives productivity, it can result in stress and anxiety for workers. Currently, business VoIP providers are shifting to a more collaborative approach through the use of new tools. This is an important factor in solving customer issues while improving the processes already in place.

Collaboration Leads to Success

The goal of every call center is to provide optimal support services to customers without making them go through tedious and frustrating steps. In short, support needs to be available, fast and painless. In a culture without collaboration, service agents feel pressured to solve issues alone instead of asking a superior for assistance. This can turn into an obstacle to success and discourage agents from communicating with one another to find the most efficient solutions. Moving into a collaborative scheme introduces a supportive and encouraging culture that boosts morale within the organization.

Benefits of Collaboration

An individual achievement focus is intended to make workers more productive but often has the opposite effect. An agent who is forced to deal with a customer issue that is beyond their training will disrupt the service process for both parties. The agent will have to place the customer on hold to either find the correct information or to escalate the the problem to someone else. The lengthy wait will frustrate the customer who will likely hang up and take their business elsewhere. When agents are encouraged to problem solve together, the customer experience improves. The largest benefits of agent collaboration include the following:

• Faster customer experience. When agents communicate together to resolve an issue, they can share information about both common and new problems. Using the right tools, they can talk with each other without putting the customer on hold or leaving a chat window, which can make the customer feel ignored or invalidated.

• More efficient training. A collaborative environment removes the need for training to focus on every possible aspect. The service agents can learn from one another.

• Happier customers due to happier agents. Collaboration is teamwork, and the culture shift not only makes the customers happier, it makes the agents happier as well. They no longer feel in competition with one another, and this will show in their work with customers and in their relationships with one another.

• Improved productivity. When agents use collaborative tools to communicate, they can do their jobs from a single screen. This removes the delays that often accompany complex problems, and the issues are resolved much faster.

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How to Implement a Collaborative Environment

While there is no specific way of making the shift, it is vital to use the right tools. Call-center software has undergone an extreme evolution in recent years, and the changes are easy to install and use. Once the tools are in place, staff can make changes at the organizational level to encourage the use of collaboration.

• Be the example. Changing the focus from individual achievement to collaboration will require encouragement. Being the example of teamwork will allow workers to feel more comfortable in the new environment and help them to be successful.

• Be transparent. While trust needs to be built between agents, it is equally important to build trust between agents and their supervisors. Transparency will help them feel they are getting the right information to the customers. A knowledge base will make the solutions easily accessible and get customer issues resolved quickly.

• Call in experts. To help agents handle more complex problem-solving tasks, having subject matter experts available is a valuable resource to the organization. This prevents service bottlenecks when supervisors or administrators are not familiar with a particular product or issue. A person with specific knowledge can offer explanations and details to speed up the resolution process, which results in higher customer satisfaction.

In the 21st century, a call center should be a cooperative, transparent environment that is focused on quickly resolving customer issues. Encouraging collaboration and teamwork to get the job done will improve morale and give the organization an edge over its competition.