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Conventional Wisdom Can Fail Contact Center Process Design

In the first post of this series on using customer insight analytics in the contact center, we discussed how to lay the foundation by answering what loyalty means to your company and identifying all the touch points in the customer journey.

In this post, we’ll talk about how to create processes that serve customer expectations, as well as to deliver on operational objectives for the contact center.

With your customer journey as reference, it’s time to analyze it to determine how four components play a role in experience design:

  • Customers: How will you segment your customers to improve service levels?
  • Situation: How will process differ if the issue is urgent or more informational in nature?
  • Purpose: What was the process designed to accomplish?
  • Employees: How can your people contribute to the experience? Do they have the right training?

Segmenting Customers
Conventional wisdom would have you segment customers by demographics or by products and services. What we found by analyzing the data about calls for a technology provider is that the most influential factor in the success of the calls was matching the customer’s level of technology knowledge. The analytics revealed that 77% of customers calling for technical support for laptops, tablets and monitors were average or below in knowing their technology.

This customer insight presented the need for very different experiences to be provided based on the level of technical understanding the customer possessed. Segmenting customers based on capability, rather than age or product, enables technical support to provide experiences more closely tailored to resolving each customer’s issue appropriately.

Situational Differences
Billing processes are often thought to be an experience that can be standardized for all. But what we discovered in analyzing customer calls is that customers with longer tenure called less often and were happier. In fact, top-two box CSAT was about 20% higher for customers with tenure of 2+ years when compared with new customers.

What we learned was that new customers call more often to tune their plan, understand the features and get issues resolved. The experiences needed to be differentiated to shorten the time to happiness for new customers by training agents to seek out other items that might cause the customer to call again. One process for all billing inquiries was not producing the best customer experience or the most efficient transaction.

Purpose-Driven Service
The time to first-contact resolution is often the goal behind process design for a call. When this is based on the company’s attempt to reduce costs, rather than providing the best customer experience, is when issues arise. In one case, we monitored the service call line for a client. The observation from the data analyzed shows that 20% of calls resulted in transfer. In the effort to streamline processes, the contact center had created silos of over-specialization. This meant that only certain agents were allowed to respond to specific situations. The result was that no one agent had the permission or the capability to resolve the customer’s issue in one event.

By diving deeper into the analytics to understand why the transfers were happening, we were able to redesign the process to better serve customers. Savings from routing calls correctly the first time were established, along with higher customer satisfaction.

Employee Influence
Contact centers spend a lot of time and resources training and coaching agents to be the best humans possible—and for good reason. Agents are the people on the front lines with your customers. In addition to call monitoring, agents can provide feedback and insights that can contribute to better process design.

But processes are often designed by engineers for use by non-engineers. For example, it’s not uncommon for agents to have to jump between a number of platforms to handle one service call. Given that the data shows the two most important things to the customer are the ability of the agent to adapt to their technical capabilities and the ownership they take for resolving their issue during the call—both soft skills—processes that are not designed to make this happen easily need to be revisited and revised. The ability to do so well was also predicated by the agent’s ability to quickly isolate the problem.

Intuition May Not Be the Best Directive
Conventional wisdom indicates that spending more time with customers will make them happy. However, what the data shows is that spending the right amount of time with a customer based on processes designed to meet their needs and resolve their issues efficiently holds more sway over their happiness. Time for time’s sake is not the antidote for improving customer service or technical support. By asking the right questions of the data in regards to customers, situation, purpose and employee influence, your processes can be optimized to produce the right outcomes for your customers, and your contact center operations.

In the next post we’ll talk about how to design processes to benefit from analytics.