The Voyage Advisory Blog

Industry news and insights from our team of experts.

Customer service environments, and contact centers in particular, tend to have a multiplicity of data. When focused and reviewed regularly and strategically, the available data enables organizations to provide superior customer experience and decrease operating costs. On the other hand, when reports swoon in the absence of a clearly defined analytics methodology, the extensive data available can serve to stultify rather than promote productivity.

In this article we will look at five ways to leverage data that may be already available to improve customer experience and decrease operating costs.

1. Repeat call analysis

A lot of organizations herald the phrase “first call resolution” (FCR) as an important customer experience metric. Yet, in practice most companies don’t have very good data about whether the caller’s topic was truly resolved during a first call.

Help desks tend to track FCR the most closely by using a ticket number. However, often callers forget their ticket number or do not realize that a subsequent call is directly based upon the failure to remediate an earlier issue.

Banks may inquire whether the customer’s issues have been resolved, and the caller will often indicate in the affirmative. Yet, there is often a lag between a customer event (such as an overdraft fee that was reversed) and when the customer knows that it has been adjudicated in a satisfactory manner (usually there would be a few day waiting period to see this online or a statement cycle for those customers relying on paper rather than digital information).

A simpler paradigm is to evaluate who is calling most often. Most telephony environments capture automatic number identification (ANI) (which is very similar to caller identification). By linking the ANI to a given customer, it is possible to identify which callers are calling most often. If possible, take this information a step further and align with caller events that are particularly high touch (such as becoming a new customer). Even better, is when the agent desktop can capture the number of times a particular account has been pulled up.

The value of this kind of initiative can add up quickly. One health insurer found groups of people who called more than 40 times per month – at an average cost per call of $8-10. By designating a special follow-up team for these repeat callers, they were able to decrease call volumes and provide a proactive service to their customers.

2. Examine the customers who call versus those who don’t

In cost-conscious companies, it’s easy to forget about those customers who never call or interact with customer service. However, no interaction from the customer doesn’t automatically mean a happy customer.

3. Develop a regression model to examine which events most strongly predict calling

Assuming the data is available, it may be informative to create a multi-variable regression analysis to examine which factors most strongly predict call volumes. Put another way, this is an attempt to put the breadth of customer characteristics – length of time as a customer, number of dollars spent, products they are using, types of issues experienced, etc. – into a single model to examine which unique factors most strongly predict phone calls and other kinds of customer contacts.

4. Link customer satisfaction scores to individual agents

Does your organization track customer satisfaction? Good. So, does your competition.

Does your organization link customer satisfaction scores to your customer service staff? The overwhelming majority of companies either do not do this. Without being able to drill down to the unique staff member, it is much harder to influence the customer satisfaction score and organizations tend to start to focus on technology and gimmicks when they should be thinking first about people and process.

5. Examine the trends of the customers you recently lost

First look at which customers stopped being your question. Second, determine the profitability of those customers. It’s tempting to start with revenue, but don’t forget that not all customers cost the same. If a customer calls 40 times per month at $8 per call they certainly have an underlying cost that is greater than the person who never calls.

Starting with the most profitable lost customers examine their characteristics. Are they new? Frequent caller? Which services do they use? Which services do they not use? Did they threaten to take their business elsewhere?

6. Examine average handle time by call type and then calculate cost per call

Many customer service organizations focus on average handle time to decrease costs. However, many fail to take the extra step of examining which calls take longest and why. Some issues are emotionally charged or complicated (such as the initial filing of a claim or a claim that is denied) and there is good reason for the customer interaction to take more time. But, what if there are other calls that could be shorter if the training was better? Or, the process for the customer was easier?

One wireless carrier identified that a rate plan inquiry took 50% longer than their other calls – making the call cost upwards of $10 compared to other calls which normally cost in the $6-7 range. The implication: take a look at whether the rate plans make sense and whether customer service agents have the requisite training to talk about them to customers.