Thursday, August 5, 2010

Drop Average Handling Time

How do organizations ensure that employees improve productivity during customer interaction events? How do they do that without compromising on customer satisfaction? How can organizations achieve an increase in sales volume? How can organizations instruct their employees? How can organizations increase employees' accountabillity? How do organizations implement this all? How will they get the employees to participate?

That's a lot of questions, but a lot of managers actually wonder how they can find an answer to just one of these questions. There is an answer to all thad: information and automation. When organizations facilitate their customer contact employees (CSR) with all relevant customer information, customer contact events will improve in quality and fall down in quantity. You will save money, time and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

An example: Mrs. Brown calls her energy supplier, she has a question about the monthly amortized amount. The employees in the contact center, a correctly, well spoken and well trained individual, asks Mrs. Brown politely for a customer number, address and inquires about the reason for contact. Then Mrs. Brown is properly transferred to an employee who knows more about these matters. This employee also asks Mrs. Brown for her customer number, address and informs the reason of contact ....

Another example: on the same day Mr. Lucky calls his energy supplier with the same question. The CSR askes Mr. Lucky about his customer number and the nature of his question and he informs Mr. Lucky about the status of his payment. Mr. Lucky has been served properly. Then the employee informs Mr. Lucky about a special promotion: "Would you like to join also?" That seems like a good idea to Mr. Lucky and he turns into Mr. Happy.

It is clear that Mrs. Brown has not the same supplier as Mr. Lucky has. Mr. Lucky's supplier has thought about Customer Process Management (CPM) and implemented it in the organization. Now the moment of customer contact and the subsequent internal workflow processes are linked to the backoffice organization and the differtent departments. All relevant customer data about Mr. Lucy is integrally presented to the CSR, so he is able to serve Mr. Lucky from the start of the customer service event.

One of the output indicators of CPM is the Average Handling Time (AHT). An important indicator. Organizations can improve their AHT by operating three activities:

  • Make an inventory about the reasons for customer contacts
  • Define processes
  • Relevant information retrieval
By identifying the reasons for customer contacts, organizations gain insight into customer processes that occur frequently and processes that happen less frequently. Now customer contact processes can be divided into volume processes and non volume processes. The next step that follows is a process definition. Who will do what and when?

All relevant customer information should be available to a CSR, in the case of volume processes. So the employee is able to handle these events quickly, correctly and according to customers' satisfaction. In the case of processes that occur less frequently and where the expertise of other staff and / or departments will be required, the customer contact employee can start a workflow. This workflow and all relevant customer information is accessible to everybody involved.

The key objective is to connect the customer service event to backoffice applications and to make all relevant customer data available to CSRs. In most organizations, backoffice applications and databases are already there. With some changes in perspective and the way customer service events are being processed, managers can answer their questions.

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