Operational Excellence in Customer Contact Center

In our service-dominated economies, the Customer Contact Center (CCC) is gaining momentum. It has become an essential point of interaction and part of our daily lives.

Unfortunately, calling a Customer Contact Center is often experienced as a hassle: waiting time, rushed service, complicated menus and sometimes unfriendly staff. There’s no shortage of adjectives to describe a service that doesn’t always live up to our expectations.

A Customer Contact Center is above all an operational area. Through operational excellence, you must work on the value added by the teams on the phone to improve the customer experience.

Cost drivers in a Customer Contact Center

To begin with, it is important to know that in a Customer Contact Center the payroll generates the majority of the costs. The number of people needed is simple to calculate: number of calls received multiplied by the average time it takes to process each call. Of the two factors, the easiest to track and impact is the average time to process a call.

Reduce average handling time?

I was recently reading a testimonial from the Customer Contact Center manager of a cellular phone operator. Regardless of name and country, the case could apply to the majority. The average processing time has a direct impact on the remuneration of the teams. They therefore try to reduce the length of the call, even if it means not solving the customer’s problem, cutting conversations short or asking the customer to call back to finalize her request at another time.

This is the Cobra effect. With this logic, the management team did not integrate that call volume was directly related to first contact resolution. Resolving the issue at first contact takes longer, so the call takes longer. It’s about achieving a balance between performance and customer service, not one at the expense of the other.

Or reduce call volumes?

Generally speaking, reducing the talk time in a Customer Contact Center is more risky for the costs than trying to reduce the call volume.

Unfortunately, this is the solution that is perceived as the easiest! To achieve sustainable results, call volumes must be reduced as they are a significant multiplier. To do this, you need to determine why your customers are calling you.

Thus, several solutions exist to measure and determine the causes of call volume:

  • Indicator entered by the call center agents in their system,
  • Actions taken in the system by the teleconsultant,
  • Choice of clients in the interactive menu,
  • Analysis of conversations (big data).

Each solution has advantages and disadvantages. For a first approach, 80% data reliability is sufficient, as you will use Pareto’s law to choose the most important problem in volume. After several iterations, you will need more precision to work on the right types of calls.

This can be done both in Kaikaku (blitz approach) and in Kaizen (continuous). You’ll then have a team that checks trends every day to correct problems before they get too big.

Finding winning solutions for the Customer Contact Center

How to solve the problems at the source? By mobilizing the entire organization! Call volumes and average handling time are far from being solely based on the work of the people in direct contact with the customers.

If customers are calling to have the different products and options explained to them, it is probably because your offer or the associated documents are too complex. The abundance of choice is a major irritant for your customers. Marketing departments need to rethink the service offer, based on the reality experienced by the call center agents (in Gemba mode) in order to offer more adapted and above all simpler products.

In your efforts to reduce call volumes, you should focus primarily on recurring issues, which are often the simplest and those that generate short talk times.

However, the average processing time of a call will logically increase, which is normal. Indeed, your front-line teams now deal with more complex, longer and, above all, fewer files!