11 February 2016

Leverage the Right Metrics to Reduce Call Volumes

A Canadian man by the name of Corbin Smith live tweeted the entire eight straight hours he was on hold with TigerDirect.ca. During this, he went to work, biked home, crowd sourced funds to order pizza and was syndicated across social sites, including popular Buzzfeed which received 43K likes on Corbin’s live tweet. During the 8th hour, TigerDirect.ca  hung up on Corbin and didn’t reach out to him until 5 full days later.   

iStock_000021372666_Medium-394690-editedForrester coined the twitter hashtag #AgeOfTheCustomer because the customer revolution is here. No longer will customers put up with customer service that causes friction in their lives. And in the instances where they are forced to wait on hold for hours or receive a call back that they then wait distrustfully all day for, customers speak out across social-channels to educate fellow peers, thus dramatically impacting an organization’s brand and reputation.

In the past, customers could only voice complaints or recommend organizations to close friends, family members and a few coworkers – today the complaint is exponentially amplified by social media.

At the same time, Forrester reports that while 90% of executives rate customer experience as a critical part of the business, only 11% consider themselves disciplined in their approach.

I know this comes as no surprise to you. You probably have a set of metrics across your organization that measure activity to ensure that you are operating effectively and getting to the heart of the customer. In the contact center alone, you probably have 25+.

However –  if you look carefully at these metrics, they are measuring the organization not the impact on the customer. When is the last time you fundamentally evaluated the value of your metrics? Do you have a disciplined approach to CX and how you measure it? Are your metrics giving you actionable guidance to reduce call volumes while maintaining customer engagement and loyalty?

The following use cases provide insight to make sure you leverage your customer experience metrics strategically and don’t get too hyper focused on a solution that doesn’t solve a larger issue.

Let Strategy and the Right Metrics Determine Channel Optimization

Both Nestle, a food and beverage company, and Vonage, a telephony service provider, wanted to optimize their voice channel because queue times were running high and CSAT scores were running low. Nestle doubled their contact center agents while Vonage implemented self service features, proactively pushing notifications based on data analysis of what the most common customer issue type was. Vonage also researched the channels their customers preferred. Nestle made a significant investment in labor to provide the personal touch point and give callers someone to talk to while Vonage used customer data insight to reduce staffing costs and still provide a frictionless customer experience. While both organizations CSATs went up – using more than just one metric allowed Vonage a more strategic approach to the same problem: high call volumes, long queues, and poor customer service.

Be Easy to Do Business with to Reduce Call Volumes & Cost

A state personal and business income tax collection board had large call volumes that disrupted operations because constituents had limited transparency into the case management process. After completing a holistic, strategic assessment, they formed a CX transformation project team dedicated to improving multi-channel functionality and proactive self service to provide the transparency constituents were eager to have.

They implemented multi-channel profiling capabilities to learn a constituent’s channel of choice and also the reason for calling. They were able to use this information to proactively communicate with customers in their preferred channel and for their preferred business transactions, so constituents had information ahead of time and could execute activities quickly and accurately. To enable these more efficient interactions, they implemented secure self service functionality via the web portal, so customers could easily submit tax documentation and view their submission status. These were the activities that constituents told the state they preferred to handle themselves; they just needed the tools to do so. This approach decreased call volumes, increased payment automation by 306% and brought in $2 billion more in revenue in the first year.

Train Internal Contact Center Agents & Partner Reps on Simple Self Service Tasks to Reduce Number of Contacts Per Incident

Large call volumes were burying a leading mailing provider’s call center. Customers were calling in 4 to 5 times on a single package look up. Two treatments around agent training resulted in a 30% drop in call volume. With 80,000 calls a day, this number had a dramatic effect on wait times, agent morale, labor costs and customer satisfaction.

iStock_000058561646_Medium-832640-edited1st Treatment: Internal Agent Education

In triaging for systemic problems, it was obvious that there was a lack of transparency to the customer of where a package was at any given time. Since their online tracker has, on average, 12 scan points throughout the life of a mailed package, the online tracker on the organization’s home page helps customers pinpoint the exact location of their package. This is the same online package tracking tool agents used. By rebuilding and optimizing agent scripts, distributing work aids, and implementing agent training – agents could educate customers about the self service option on their homepage. At the same time, customers received proactive communication by mail and e-mail about the single package look up application. Further, if the agent couldn’t solve a customer’s challenge – a tiger team, comprised of focused agents, was implemented to track the package and solve the customer’s issue.

2nd Treatment: Partner Alignment & Agent Education

The second treatment the organization pursued was to educate their partner’s contact center agents. Calls were being re-routed to the mailing organization from partnering organizations, who were also unaware that an automated single package look up service was at their finger tips. Through a meeting of the minds between executives, the organization was able to provide training, work aids and script optimization to partnering contact centers. In the end, training and awareness about simple self help tools transformed multiple organizations and produced a better customer experience.

While we have all waited on hold or been stuck in an endless IVR loop – I waited on hold for 5 hours over Christmas break because I needed to ask questions about an insurance claim for a heater that decided to breathe his last breath in the dead of winter – organizations continue to use the wrong measurements to manage contact center challenges.

You can’t see an elephant with a penlight, you can’t use a saw blade to hammer in a nail, and you can’t take action from metrics that are internally focused and not customer centric.

If you do – you aren’t truly serving your customers and you aren’t promoting customer loyalty.

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Keith Taylor

Two decades of experience in customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and information technology transformations allows me to bring simplicity to complex CX challenges. As a certified PMP, I understand the system development life cycle and the role that upfront strategy can have on the success of a solution implementation. I value shared goals and imparting knowledge to ensure that you realize your customer goals and business revenue.


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