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Improving Customer Service in 3 Steps

  
  
  

Improve Customer Service in 3 Steps

I have recently attended Call Center Summit Europe, where guest speakers described how they improved the provided service and customer experience at their contact centers. Guest speakers came from a wide range of organizations, such as government institutions, hotels, banks, telcos, and so on.

Almost everyone touched 3 essential points important to their organizations and that accounted for a successful change in the customer strategy.


  1. Empower and engage agents

    It is never too much to stress the importance of motivated agents. They are the engine that moves the contact center and without them, not even the most state of the art technology can do the job.

    Everyone agreed that agents must be passionate about customer service, act with humanity. If agents have these skills “built-in”, the organization can teach them to talk to people, that´s the easy part, the one that can be learned. Even though most part of the agents are very young, they should be treated with respect, as adults because they are the ones dealing with serious customer problems and must be able to give customers a sympathetic attitude, even if they can´t do anything to solve the problem.

    For example, a 20 year old agent that still lives at home has to understand the credit problems of a 40 year old man with a family to take care of. It is also very important to give agents responsibility, as the good agents can work with that on their behalf to be motivated and be excellent customer service professionals.

  2. Change KPIs

    Forget indicators such as Average Talk Time or Volume of Handled Calls and focus on others such as First Call Resolution and contact satisfaction.The correct strategy to a successful customer experience has to do with:

         - Did the agent solve the problem of the customer?

        - Was the customer happy with how the agent handled the interaction?

    One of the presenters, from an Insurance company, mentioned that after forgetting the traditional KPIs agents went from handling 100 calls a day to between 20 and 30 calls; but that was very positive thing as customers were happy and the problem was solved during the first contact. At the end of the day what importance had the fact that an agent answered 100 calls but did not solve any of the customer issues?

  3. Support Social Media

    The idea of social media as a new trend is long gone and contact centers must keep up with and support the options available to customers. A government institution at the conference described how they changed their contact center to support Twitter and Facebook and significantly improved how they were viewed by the population.

    The fact that they were able to answer to these new communication channels made the habitants realize that they could really trust their government institutions and get problems solved. Moreover, social media is a great tool to engage and retain customer social media.

Overall, all speakers were unanimous in the fact that these measures may need to be sold to board members, it is not easy as results are not immediate, and there are failures and setbacks along the way.

However, in the end the results are easy to demonstrate  as the most important part of the whole process, the customer, is very happy with the organization.

Comments

Good points overall but I would not recommend totally changing KPIs to ignore efficiency metrics like handle time. We should want both quality and quantity in our contacts with customers. I would still focus on exception management of outliers who have excessively low or high handle times. If all the agents went from taking 100 calls a day to 20 or 30 calls a day, the economics of the call center would not be manageable.
Posted @ Wednesday, March 28, 2012 8:44 AM by Mark Goin
Hi Mark,  
I agree with the points you make. There will always be outliers, but if agents are engaged and empowered, they´ll represent a very insignificant number that can easily be controlled. As for the drastic number changes in the calls handled by agents at insurance company, the speaker explained that initially they brought in people from other departments, such as the back-office, to work at the contact center. Merging front and back-office resulted in agents handling other tasks. Additionally, over time the number of calls was gradually reduced as customers got their problems solved at the first call.
Posted @ Thursday, March 29, 2012 3:38 AM by Celia Cerdeira
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