Much of the last ten years we have driven down the cost of customer service with almost no inkling of the impact it has had on customer loyalty and retention. Now that the economy is shaky I am getting asked on how to cut costs even more, but rarely is anyone measuring the full picture of what the cuts would mean. Here is a better idea: start improving your processes. Begin by creating maturity assessments of how well you are doing at each of your service interactions. How often does a CSR have to look around and decide how to tag a case? Figure out how to route an action? Look for the right resource? Multiply that by the number of agents and the number of interactions, and you have wasted money lying on the floor. What about your IVR? How effective is it? Why does it fail? What should you do? Do you have the proper customer segmentation schemes in place?
How about agent productivity? When is the last time you really innovated around work shifts and collaboration and social interaction? How about this: read MIT Professor Alex (Sandy) Pentland’s new book, Honest Signals, and find out about some new and simple methods for boosting productivity without spending money. Imagine: happier and more engaged agents doing more to make the right moves and delight customers – and all you need to do is unravel what makes them tick. I can almost guarantee you the opportunities for improvement are huge.
What about your knowledge management? How effective is your web content? Your search capabilities? The consistency with which you analyze the usefulness of the information you put out on your website or in front of the CSR? You are likely spending too much time and duplicated effort on something that should be taken to a different level, and better understood, and better ranked by the end consumer of the content – not ranked by IT.
Basically: I have seen four or five efforts that cost very little money that are having a high impact on agent morale and effectiveness, and on customer satisfaction and loyalty – all in projects going on now in the teeth of a recession – by innovative service organizations.
Don’t wait until this is over and say that you were helpless to do anything. There is plenty to be done: just ask the customer.
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