Originally published in ICMI
by Heather D. Blease
We need numbers to measure contact center performance. Empowering Agents can uncover metrics that positively impact the customer relationship.
Measuring stats is a big part of managing a contact center. Answer time, abandon rate, handle time, and other information help hone efficiencies and tighten operations. While these stats certainly impact customer satisfaction, we’ve found that going above and beyond to capture additional information has helped us improve our clients’ business. The trick is, of course, to find the right information. (Hint: our Agents are the best source.)
At SaviLinx, we manage a variety of contact center contracts including inquiries for state and federal government entities, tier-one and tier-two tech support for technology and software firms, customer support for online retailers, and everything in between. We have the chance to see what moves the needle in diverse environments, and adopt ideas across accounts. Beyond the typical metrics, we track the following information to help our clients enhance their customer relationships.
Anticipating Customer Need
It’s easy for outsourcers to get stuck in the box of doing only what’s in the contract, however we believe that we can provide additional value to our clients by looking more deeply at the program delivery trends to uncover inefficiencies or cost-saving measures. One of our clients manages a state program with multiple tiers of energy incentives for customers. Our initial contract called for us to direct the customer to the right resource for the incentive. Our Agents noticed that the process added more steps (e.g. transfers) for the customers. They also realized that many customers were eligible for additional incentives beyond their initial inquiry. We started measuring how many calls we thought we could resolve on our own, and how often we thought we could recommend additional incentives to the customer, and presented the information to our client.
As a result, we now handle the calls directly instead of transferring to other agencies and have the autonomy to provide the callers with other incentive programs for which they are eligible. The callers are happier with the streamlined program, and we’re saving the state money by reducing the steps needed to connect the customer with the right answers.
Moving Beyond the Transaction
Contact centers can get so focused on answering the caller’s issue that they can forget to look at the big picture. Here’s an example: we work with several retailers whose customers call us to get more information about products they have seen in a catalog or online. Guess what? Sometimes published information is inaccurate or out of date. Part of our job is to provide the correct information to the customer and resolve the call. Our Agents look beyond the transaction at hand and gather additional information that can help the client.
We started tracking and reporting calls relating to inaccurate online or published information for one retail client, and it made where to buy clomid fertility drug such a difference that we have implemented it as a practice for all clients. We regularly report out-of-date, confusing, or misleading information and discuss systems that don’t work as expected or promised. This simple process has not only enabled our Agents to provide a better experience for all customers, it ultimately has reduced call volume in the first place.
Becoming One Team
As an outsourcing partner, we can work as the sole customer service provider or as a supplement to the client’s internal customer support team. When we work with our client’s team, we make a concerted effort to become an extension of their team. This means sharing information that can help everyone improve and making regular visits so our team members meet and know their colleagues – at least to the extent possible.
For example, our team has significantly lower “after-call” times than a client’s Agents. The client asked SaviLinx to help them improve the metrics within their internal contact center. We sent some of our team leaders to meet with our client’s team to share our secrets and ideas of how to improve.
We have developed a way to add structure and consistency to our value add promise by developing a monthly scorecard. Of course the scorecard tracks the typical metrics but we have added an additional reporting category that is different: it’s called the “Wow” Factor. Each month we strive to develop a program improvement that goes above and beyond the norm. These improvements typically come from the Agents that work most closely with our client’s customers. We meet with our Agents daily and listen to their ideas and insights for improvements. This approach helps our Agents to feel empowered and that their voices matter.
As is typical in any contact center, we measure every aspect of Agent performance, including our own internal metrics as well as those that are defined by the client. One game-changer for performance improvement is for the Agents to have access to their own metrics to see where they stand in real time. This sets the stage for friendly competition and allows the Agents to self-manage to meet their goals.
By using metrics throughout the organization, everyone on the team understands what defines a “good job”. Additionally, when we discover improvements beyond the ordinary customer relationship, we creatively find ways to measure and encourage efficiencies so we are not only meeting the customer’s expectations but also continuing to raise the bar on delivering excellent service.
Heather D. Blease is CEO of SaviLinx, a contact center that specializes in customer service and business process outsourcing. Based on a decommissioned naval air base in Brunswick, Maine, and with offices in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, SaviLinx serves government and commercial customers with personalized service. SaviLinx is a Woman Owned Small Business and is HUBZone certified.
Published April 24, 2017 in ICMI. More stories can be found here.