It’s no secret that call centers are under a lot of pressure to provide excellent customer service. Everyone wants to know how to improve SLA in a call center. They are on the front lines of customer service, after all, so it’s important for businesses to ensure that their call center service level agreements (SLAs) are up to par. In order to meet SLAs, call center managers need to employ strategies that improve service quality.

In this post, we share some tips and strategies for improving service quality and achieving better SLA results. By following these simple steps, you can improve the overall customer experience and boost your bottom line.

What is a service level agreement (SLA)?

A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between a business and its customers that sets expectations for the level of service they can expect.

SLAs in the contact center

One of the most common SLAs for a call center to make is committing to answering a percentage of inbound calls within a set time frame. The industry standard is answering 80% of calls within 20 seconds or better known as the 80/20 service level.

The 80/20 service level isn’t the only way to craft an agreement. SLAs can often include metrics such as: 

  • Average handle time: Relays the length of time each call lasts.
  • First call resolution: Measures how many calls are resolved on the first contact.
  • Abandonment rate: Reflects calls abandoned while a customer was waiting on hold to connect with a human agent. As per International Finance Corporation (IFC), the global metric is between 5 and 8 percent.
  • Queue time: The average time that customers wait on hold.
  • Net Promoter Score:The likelihood that a customer recommends your company.

Average speed of answer (ASA): Measures the number of calls not answered within a certain time frame. The global metric is 28 seconds according to IFC.

There are a number of factors that can impact your ability to meet SLAs. Here are some of the most common:

  • High call volume: If you are constantly dealing with a high volume of calls, it can be difficult to meet SLAs. This is why it’s important to have adequate staffing levels. 
  • Complex issues: If you are dealing with complex issues that take longer to resolve, this can impact your ability to meet SLAs.
  • Lack of resources: If you don’t have the necessary resources, such as adequate staffing or the right technology, this can impact your ability to meet SLAs.

Call centers are vital to businesses and the customer service industry. They provide a direct link between businesses and their customers. In order to be successful, call centers must provide excellent customer service.

Here are just a few reasons why having established SLAs is so important, especially in the customer service industry:

  • It builds trust between the company and the customer 
  • It sets expectations for both parties 
  • It creates accountability if something goes wrong 
  • It can help improve the overall customer experience

Service quality is key because it directly affects customer satisfaction. When customers are satisfied, they’re more likely to do business with you again in the future. They may also recommend your business to others. On the other hand, poor service quality will result in unhappy customers who are less likely to do business with you again. 

SLAs set the expectations for the level of service that customers can expect. In order for call centers to meet SLAs, they need to employ strategies that improve service quality. This is where many call centers fall short.

How to improve SLAs in your call center

Before we jump into how to improve SLAs in your contact center, there are a few considerations to think about:

Your clients:

Depending on the industry you’re in, what do your clients want and need from your call center? Consider segmenting customers based on indicators like customer lifetime value, so you can prioritize customer wait times. 

Your contact center:

Consider the capabilities of your specific contact center. Do you have enough agents in place to meet a specific service level? What’s a reasonable workload for your agents? How will this service level impact work culture, productivity, and well-being? 

Your priorities:

Which metrics are the most important for your contact center to hit? We recommend focusing on fewer KPIs versus wanting to improve it all. By focusing on too many metrics, you end up hindering your contact center’s performance.

Key strategies that can help you improve SLAs in your call center:

Hire the right people

This is perhaps the most important step in ensuring excellent customer service. You need to hire agents who are not only knowledgeable and skilled, but also compassionate and empathetic. These are the agents who will go above and beyond to help your customers.

Train your agents

Once you’ve hired the right people, it’s important to train them properly. They should be well-versed in your products or services and know how to handle customer inquiries. If you use a contact center software, reach out to your provider and inquire about any eLearning or tool training they may offer.

Improve service quality

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating. In order to meet SLAs, call centers need to provide excellent customer service. There are a few ways to improve service quality, including reducing wait times, increasing first call resolution rates, and improving customer satisfaction scores. Implementing the right tools can help you do this. For example, chatbots allow your customers to get answers to their basic inquiries 24/7. They also free up your contact center agents to assistant other customers with more complex issues.

Use technology to your advantage

Technology can help call centers improve their performance and meet SLAs. Automated systems can help reduce wait times and increase first call resolution rates. Additionally, call recording and quality monitoring systems can help identify areas for improvement. There are many different contact center technologies on the market today. Identify where your contact center needs improvement and research tools that address those concerns.

Use quality monitoring

Quality monitoring is a process whereby you listen in on calls or read transcripts to ensure that agents are providing excellent customer service. This helps you identify any areas where improvement is needed. When implementing a call monitoring software, make sure it complies with local and federal regulations.

Set realistic expectation

It’s important to set realistic expectations for your agents. They should know what is expected of them in terms of service quality. If the expectations are too high, they will become frustrated and burned out. Make sure you tell your agents which metrics you’re measuring for performance. This only sets them up for success. Additionally, you can utilize quality monitoring tools like automated scorecards to streamline performance tracking.

Final thoughts on how to improve SLA in call centers

Improving service level agreements (SLAs) in your call center doesn’t have to be difficult. By following these simple tips and strategies, you can improve service quality and boost your bottom line. What’s more, happy customers will be more likely to do business with you again and recommend your business to others.