Increasing customer satisfaction is the truest measure of success for contact centres, not operational effi ciency. This is what Michael Meredith, CEO of the Australian Teleservices Association said when he recentlyly challenged some industry norms around which metrics matter the most. No doubt more people would like to raise the bar for customer satisfaction, but assume it requires a trade-off against profi tability.
The question then, is how to satisfy customers effi ciently. The shift of focus towards improving the customer experience presents a great opportunity for resellers to help make these improvements happen, in contact centres and across the board. The business case is compelling if you can show how automating repetitive, predictable and timeconsuming processes delivers better quality service at a lower cost.
Customers understand the benefits of unified communications (UC), or combining voice, text and presence status for collaboration. What is really exciting is to build on this foundation, integrating UC with automated processes so that workfl ow can be directed to the right person at the right time. Quality improvements from process automation, such as a greater percentage of queries resolved on the first call, provide a very tidy ROI in terms of customer retention and lower labour costs. For example, typical inbound ACD (automatic call distribution) queuing sends calls to the agent showing the longest idle time. However, the most available agent is not necessarily the best sales or customer service agent.
What if, instead, the phone system is connected to a database housing agent skills and training data? The phone system could use the calls-per-agent and transactionsper- agent to calculate real time resolution percentages per agent. As calls come in, a calculation determines the available agent with the highest satisfaction score and instead delivers the call to them. Think of the impact that would have on customer experience.
Other local results come to mind. In one telecommunications company a helpdesk service automatically provides customers with the answers to their most frequently asked questions, 24 hours a day with no hold music. In a local financial services company, most calls from retailers seeking to validate a shopper’s credit card are automated, making them precise, measurable and fast. Complex or incomplete validations are routed to an agent with the right skills to help.
In almost every company you walk into, there are significant opportunities for improving the business processes that determine the customer experience. If it takes, on average, five steps to process a customer interaction and on average there are 500 interactions per day, this means there are 2500 opportunities to make a mistake, each one chipping away at valuable brand equity.
Every business is built on processes, so the good news is that process automation represents a sizeable opportunity. Even better, benefi ts can accrue from incremental improvements to existing processes. It may be as simple as providing a receptionist with a caller’s account details based on telephone number recognition.
How do you identify an opportunity? While every organisation’s specifi c needs require a customised response, candidates for process automation often have:
- Some manual process that can be partially or fully automated
- A segmented clientele who need to be treated differently
- A business workflow that requires more accurate and transparent management.
Process automation is about applying tried and tested technology to existing business processes, without requiring a ‘big bang’ disruption. It offers a relatively low-risk way to introduce cost savings as well as differentiate with improved service. Resellers can make a vital contribution. Think how you like to be treated and help your client walk in their customers’ shoes.