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Call Centers Need Process Improvements to Achieve Priorities

Complexity in the call center is growing in parallel with customer expectations. As customers feel more entitled, they’re also unwilling to tolerate customer service that doesn’t deliver a compelling customer experience. Add the economy into the equation and bank call centers are facing even tougher hurdles to satisfy their customers. When events occur that spike the volume of inbound calls, the ability to effectively respond is reliant on the underlying processes that support customer interactions.

Unfortunately, the growing complexity of the call center is not working in your bank’s favor. Recent research by ICMI found that 70% of call centers are experiencing performance issues, including broken processes, lower agent morale, and lower first contact resolution (FCR). For 59% of these call centers, their focus on fixing these issues is focused on process improvement.

The research also asked call centers to identify their top priorities. In order of importance, they are:
• Increase customer satisfaction
• Meet service level agreements
• Increase sales and profitability
• Increase agent productivity
• Lower operating costs

Achieving each of these priorities is reliant on the quality of the processes that direct customer interactions at each touchpoint of a customer’s experience. By orchestrating the design of customer interactions, call centers have the opportunity to become highly efficient at not only meeting those five objectives, but also in effectively managing spikes in call volume with the ability to better, and more effectively, serve customers in less time.

Design Customer Interactions to Achieve Business Objectives

Customer Interaction Design is a methodology built upon rigorous analysis and proven design principles that enables call centers to maximize the consistency and quality of every customer’s experience.

The main question the methodology is designed to answer is:
For every customer touchpoint, what is the most effective way to design the overall customer interaction to achieve consistent, predictable, efficient and satisfying customer experience?

Customer Interaction Design is a four-step process that includes:
1. Assess – How do the touchpoints that comprise an interaction work together?
2. Map – What are the call segments and types that must be included in the project?
3. Analyze – What are the opportunities for improvement?
4. Engineer – How do we structure that process?
Let’s take a look at each step in more detail:

Step 1: Assess

The first step in initiating the customer interaction design process is to identify all customer touchpoints and to determine how these touchpoints work together to empower the customer in resolving their issue. You may also discover that service points might actually work against each other to undermine the customer’s efforts.

You’ll want to assess each channel that a customer may experience while trying to resolve an issue. Website self service is often the first place your customers will turn. If they cannot solve the problem easily, they may engage in a live chat session with an agent, submit a form requesting help via email, or choose to call the toll free telephone number for your call center, depending on the intricacy of their issue or their comfort level with technology.

If they choose to call, they will usually encounter an IVR system that offers options and information to help them resolve their issue. How well the IVR is designed will be indicative of how many calls traverse their way to an agent for resolution.

These are the types of considerations evaluated during this interaction assessment phase. The objective of this assessment is to align service transaction types with the most suitable touch point for a quick and satisfying resolution.

Step 2: Map

Once the touchpoints and their advantages and drawbacks are clearly understood, work must be done to better define the transaction segments by examining multiple interactions at each touchpoint. This can include listening to a volume of calls, reviewing chat transcripts, email threads and paths selected within the IVR in relation to the type of issues customers are trying to resolve.

Identifying appropriate segments is a painstaking process, particularly for contact types that are not consistent or predictable. During this phase, key aspects of the interaction will need to be identified that fall outside the standard process flow i.e., placing the customer on hold, or transferring a call.

The purpose of the mapping step is to identify call segments, top call drivers, and interaction points that disrupt the effectiveness of the interaction flow.

Step 3: Analyze

Next, examine the types of interactions mapped in Step 2 to gather baseline data on the segments and to gain further insight into improvement opportunities. Careful scrutiny is the core of this phase of analysis and is the key to identifying opportunities for optimization that will help call centers to meet their top priorities and business objectives, as stated above.

The data gathered includes segment lengths for each transaction, frequency of occurrences (i.e., number of items ordered, how often the web site option was mentioned), points of consistency and inconsistency, as well as offers and acceptance rates for up and cross selling. Improvement opportunities might include data capturing, information verification, call control and transferring, etc.

The analysis step includes both subjective and objective observations that may include:


In this step, the goal includes definitively answering questions such as:
• Is the service we’re providing effective?
• What can we do better?
• How can we best help the customer to help themselves?

Step 4: Engineer

Finally, during the engineering phase, we utilize an object-oriented programming methodology to synthesize the analytical findings into newly engineered, highly-detailed and optimized processes. A graphical depiction of the newly designed transaction flow makes the new process clear and easy-to-understand for the agents who will be employing it.

The Outputs from Customer Interaction Design

Along with defining the business and customer impact of the newly engineered process, there are several useful outputs from the Customer Interaction Design process. Among them are:

• A clear structure for segmenting transactions and capturing data on each segment
• Use case descriptions and transaction flow diagrams for easy agent adoption
• Histograms that provide a visual before and after depiction of the process

The outcomes of the interaction design process enable us to determine the best methods for making the recommended changes. Applying the engineered process to future interactions will ensure that agents are using only proven optimized processes for delivering exceptional customer service at every touchpoint.

Customer Interaction Design is unique because it lends a highly-targeted and disciplined focus to each aspect of the customer’s interaction with your service team. The goal is growing the lifetime value of your customers by continuously looking for better ways to serve them. Customer Interaction Design demonstrates your serious commitment to handle each customer interaction in a manner that cements customer loyalty to your business and helps you to achieve your critical business priorities. It’s that simple.