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Call Center Agents Excel with Needs-Based Offers

Call center operations in financial services are most successful when a process is applied to design customer interactions to achieve predictable, efficient and satisfying customer experiences for every customer touchpoint. The customer interaction process must be engineered to address task optimization, as well as to convey personalized responsiveness on behalf of the agent. To produce the best outcomes, the interaction design process must consider all touchpoints, which may include IVR, phone calls, email, SMS/text messaging, website self-service, and more. Here we will focus on the inbound service call.

The interaction design process looks at the transaction flow from start to finish and includes four main steps:

1. Assess: How do the touchpoints work together?
2. Map: What are the call segments and types?
3. Analyze: What are the opportunities for improvement?
4. Engineer: How do we structure that process?

Customer interaction design is not a static, one-time project, but a process for continuous improvement to help call center operations respond dynamically by establishing best practices in response to changing markets, industry trends, and customer needs and preferences. Achieving consistency is predicated on understanding customer needs and values well enough to produce predictable experiences that meet customer expectations. Customer interaction design increases the value call center operations provide to the business through more efficient execution and improved effectiveness at increasing customer satisfaction and lifetime value.

Discovering Opportunities for Offer Improvement

Customer interaction design is best applied when focused on achieving new milestones, or goals. Let’s say we’ve discovered that call center agents aren’t maximizing their cross sell and up-sell potential. The goal is to use customer interaction design to create an effective needs-based offer process to help agents match the right offer to the right customer at the right time as part of the inbound call process.

To address this opportunity, begin by gathering historical data on offer rates, customer satisfaction, and quality metrics. Then do a deep dive into agent knowledge and current call handling processes to identify the gap in non-acceptance. It is critically important to identify why the gaps from offer to acceptance exist and what is needed to close the gap by making the right offers at the right time based on the agent’s ability to assess the customer’s needs by identifying triggers that enable them to improve offer relevance.

The process you’re assessing may look something like this:

· Assessing primary need > applied for car loan

· Underlying need > car insurance

· Right product > policy X bundled with their existing home insurance policy

· First contact resolution > gathering remaining information needed to process car loan

· Successful referral > customer accepts insurance offer

· CSAT > increases based on post-call survey responses

Producing Useful Agent Tools

After assessing and defining the customer interaction flow, creating process guides that help agents identify underlying needs and make more relevant needs-based offers has proven to be a critical driver for agent adoption of the new customer interaction designs. Paired with proactive coaching and reviews, the time to value is shortened for call center operations.

There are two components to discovering underlying needs; Language Triggers and High Capital Questions.

· Language triggers are words and phrasing used by the customer that alert the agent to the potential existence of an underlying need. It’s important to remember that every inbound call will not be a sales opportunity, but many will provide the opportunities for a relevant conversation where a needs-based soft offer can be appropriate and welcomed by the customer.

· High Capital Questions are actively asked by call center agents in relation to the conversation with the customer as a means of identifying underlying needs. For example, if a customer calls with an address change,, asking what prompted the move may lead the agent to ascertain that offering a referral to the mortgage origination area is an offer the customer may find highly relevant.

In order to determine call flows and potential conversational structures, create a matrix grouped by call drivers and product focus. Map all of the related products and services and determine which triggers and questions can help agents improve the relevancy of cross sell and up-sell offers.

Discovering Needs is Critical to Acceptance of the Offer

The most important thing to remember when embarking on a customer interaction design process is that it’s not just about matching any product to something that sounds vaguely related. This process is about constructing a purposeful conversational flow to uncover needs that the customer may not realize the company can provide or hasn’t realized he needs yet. Relevance comes from the relation of the offer to the reason for the call origination.

For example, if the customer calls with a question about car insurance and an agent offers them travel insurance without qualifying the need, the offer is seen as self-serving for the company. This type of offer provides no value for the customer and could quite possibly damage the customer’s satisfaction, resulting in diminished value for the company. Customer interaction design that increases the needs-based offer is about the escalation of mutual value for both sides. Becoming proficient takes some effort but the payoffs are definitely worth the investment.