Silos and multiple tiers are killing customer service.
Everyone agree with the fact that skills are essential and that some people are better than others in different disciplines. We must however challenge the preconception that talented people can’t be multi-skilled to a “good-enough” level to solve customers problems.
Studies shows that 80% of all customer issues are resolved by self-service options. However 50% of the customers are still contacting the customer service.
With the high rate of self-service options the issues facing today’s customer service reps are more complex and span over a wide range of disciplines. A payment issue might include technical problems at the same time as it has administrative factors coupled with an opportunity for revenue or anti-churn.
If we organize our contact centers and service offerings in silos and multiple tiers, we don’t prepare our employees for handling cross-functional and complex issues. We have made it impossible to meet the customer’s needs in the initial contact, with the same person – effectively killing customer effort score. The latter also happens to be the biggest driver behind the NPS (net promoter score) and CSAT (customer satisfaction score).
With silos and multiple tiers (second and third lines) – you create unnecessary (almost exponential) complexity in the operations model since you need to forecast and staff each silo and tier separately.
Some might argue that it’s expensive to train multi-skilled staff and nearly impossible to recruit them from the beginning. This mindset sets the potential bar for quality from the start and will increase costs by 40 – 50%, considering repeat contacts and low first contact resolution rate. The organizational and operational structure of the contact center will determine the customers’ experienced quality (customer experience) and ultimately the running costs. For high-growth companies – unnecessary complexity in the operations creates bottlenecks that are difficult to overcome.
Real time proactivity – the underutilized operational potential.
By restructuring and removing silos and tiers within the service organization – you unlock an unprecedented operational potential. Considering that customer contacts are cyclical in real time, which most operational reports don’t consider, (most operational managers analyze average metrics over longer time periods f.eg. daily or weekly statistics), you can create a proactive environment when the inbound volume are lower to further prevent reactive inbound contacts. Our studies from 20+ customer cases show that unseen potential reaches up to 20% of the staffed time. Considering that it’s already a sunk cost due to the need to staff all open hours, utilizing down time for proactive contacts will always be something value adding if it’s done right.
What effect could a proactive contact have for your customers service experience? Real time proactivity is a real possibility if your contact center is inhouse and you’ve achieved a high external first contact resolution.
Do you have any questions? Do not hesitate to contact us!
Office in Lund
Per Grönberg, CEO & Founder
+46 766 23 64 05
The best customer experience
strategy is increasing quality.
Your customers want their needs met. It’s as simple as that. That will drive satisfaction, decrease the risk of loyalty loss and increase the customer experience scores more than exceeding a customer’s expectations.
As an effect of increased digitalization, self-service tools and in general a better understanding for the customer’s needs (most order their plane tickets online and not with a physical agent), the complexity of problems that customers can’t solve by themselves, is much greater than before. This development means that many organizations are unable to solve a customer’s problem in the initial contact when reaching out to a live agent.
This article describes why increasing quality and case resolution (as well as pre-empting downstream contacts) leads to substantial positive effect on any organizations bottom line and still is the biggest factor for a customer when scoring their customer experience.
Solve the entire issue.
First Contact Resolution is a popular metric used throughout the contact center industry. It’s simply whether the customer’s issue was fully resolved in the initial contact (regardless of channel type e.g. phone, e-mail, chat etc.).
There is however a significant difference whether you measure if the company means it’s resolved (internal First Contact Resolution rate), or if the customer perceives/feels the issue is resolved (external First Contact Resolution rate). Most companies measure the internal resolution rate, but don’t ask their customers how they experienced it. In this article – we’ll discuss the external FCR which significantly affects the number of contacts that your contact center will receive (your volume) throughout all your channels.
The impact on volume by increasing First Contact Resolution
The internal FCR is globally measured somewhere around 70% – which means that 30% of the customers will contact you again through the same or different channels. The external FCR is by several studies from well reputed research institutes ranging between 32-45%. That means that somewhere between 55-68% of the total contact volume globally is completely unnecessary and could have been addressed in the initial contact.
Considering that the staffing costs (and other associated costs e.g. office, management, software licenses etc.) is 80-85% of the entire cost volume it suggests that (at least on a theoretical level) that you can cut between 44 – 57% of your entire cost volume if you increase your external FCR to 100%.
Going from theory into actual implementation/change – the results (in our customer cases) are within 90% of the theoretical estimation.
Why Case Resolution is dependent of the dialogue’s quality
It might sound like common sense, but high-quality customer service is just to meet the current and short-term needs of a customer. It can range from securing a payment plan (if the customer can’t pay) to changing the shipping address of a product. If the need is resolved, the customer will in most cases be satisfied. To do this, the quality of the actual customer dialogue is critical considering that it’s not the resolution itself that reduces contact volumes – it’s if the customer believes/feels that it’s been resolved (it’s still of course important to actually resolve it) and trusts the agent. This will mainly be decided on how the resolution is delivered (the way an agent communicates with your customer).
If you break down the different issues that arise within your offering there are four different steps that need to be fulfilled for the agent to theoretically and practically be able to resolve the issue.
- Knowledge – does the agent have the theoretical training to resolve all steps of the case?
- Empowerment – is the agent allowed to resolve all steps of the case?
- Skillset & tools – is it possible to resolve all steps of the case within the first contact?
- Execution – is the agent assigned/directed to do it?
Surprisingly, in many organizations (especially larger ones), the majority of cases handled fail in one or more of the above common-sense steps.
At the end – quality is the sum of how well all steps are performed in each dialogue.
Preventing downstream issues.
A downstream issue is a problem/question that arises as a natural part of the products or service complexity but can be foreseen and prevented by minimal effort in the initial contact. It’s about creating customer question flows based on common sense and figuring out corresponding actions by using common sense logic.
Example: If you’ve purchased clothes with your credit card online and you want to return the order you might need to contact the customer service department for clear instructions. Then it will be a logistical question (how do I send it back and how should I package it). But there will also be a payment question that might arise downstream (when will you refund my money?). This is usually not within the control of the store but the credit card providers different policies and routines. If the agent is aware of the major credit card companies refund routines they can inform the customer of this and thus preventing a potential contact.
This is how customer insights and deep process/product knowledge can prevent unnecessary interactions.
Office in Lund
Per Grönberg, CEO & Founder
+46 766 23 64 05