In our service-dominated economies, the Customer Contact Center (CCC) is gaining momentum. It has become an essential point of interaction and is part of everyday consumer life. Unfortunately, making a phone call to a Customer Contact Center is often experienced as a sinecure: waiting time, expeditious service, complicated menus and sometimes unwelcoming representatives. Adjectives are not lacking to describe a service not always up to the expectations of its customers. In this article, I will give you some tips to improve customers’ experience. Through operational excellence, it is necessary to work on the added value of the call center. Keep in mind that a Customer Contact Center is primarily an operational sector.
Cost Drivers in a Customer Contact Center
To begin, let’s remember that, the majority of the Customer Contact Center costs are related to the payroll. The number of employees needed is simple to calculate: number of calls received multiplied by the average processing time of each call. Of the two factors, the easiest one to track and impact is the average time to process a call.
Reduce calls duration?
I recently read the testimony of a contact center manager of a cell phone operator. Regardless of its name and country, the case could apply to the majority. The remuneration of the call center representative is directly related to their average processing time. They try to reduce the duration of the call, even if they do not solve the customer’s problem, shorten the conversations or ask the customer to call back to finalize their request at another time. This is the Cobra effect. As part of this logic, decision makers did not understand that call volume was directly related to first-contact resolution, which often results in longer call duration. It’s about balancing performance and customer service, not one to the detriment of the other.
Or reduce call volumes?
In general, reducing the talk time in a Customer Contact Center is more risky for costs than trying to reduce the volume of calls. Unfortunately, this is the solution that is perceived as the easiest! Achieving sustainable results requires reducing call volumes as a significant multiplier. To do this, one must determine why customers are calling. Thus, several solutions exist to measure and determine the causes of the call volume:
- Indicator registered by the call center in their system,
- Actions put in the system by the call center,
- Customers’ choices in the interactive menu,
- Analysis of conversations (big data).
Each solution has advantages and disadvantages. For a first approach, the reliability of the data to 80% is enough, because you will use the law of Pareto to address the most important problems in volume. After several iterations, you will need more precision to work on the right types of calls. This can be done in both Kaikaku (blitz approach) and Kaizen (continuous). You’ll rely on a team that checks trends every day to correct issues before they get too big.
Find winning solutions
How to solve problems at the source? By engaging the whole organization! Call volumes and their duration are far from being based on the work of the call center representatives. If customers call to be explained the different products and options, it is surely because your offer or related documents are too complex. The abundance of choice is a major irritant for customers. Marketing departments must rethink the service offer, based on the reality experienced by the call center (in Gemba mode, therefore) in order to offer more adapted and above all simpler products.
In your effort to reduce call volumes, you should focus primarily on recurring problems, which are often the simplest ones and those that generate short talk times. However, the average processing time of a call will logically increase, which is normal. In fact, call center representatives are now dealing with more complex, longer files, but especially fewer ones