Most companies are striving to improve the experience they deliver to their customers. However, unless they address internal process issues, this task might be a lot more difficult than expected and could lead to disappointing results.
Cellular One, a company with a network of independently owned wireless providers, recognized the need to address its internal efficiency in order to improve its customer experience. The main challenge lay with the company's two call centers, which were completely independent of one another and had minimal interaction. Operational inefficiencies and labor intensive operations were negatively impacting customers, leading to long wait times for call transfers, increasing the need for call-backs to resolve an issue, as well as difficulties for customers to obtain basic account information or pay their bills. Further, the existent operational system didn't provide agents with the identities of the customers with whom they were speaking.
Cellular One's business leaders were cognizant of these challenges and the fact that customers expect quick and easy access to information and answers. "We had the information and answers that customers needed; our challenge was to satisfy the 'quick and easy' part," explains Matt Roskuski, the company's senior vice president of sales and operations.
Tools that weren't user friendly were also hindering customer care representatives from helping customers the way they wanted and taking time away from coaching and development. One of the problems was the company's inability to record calls, meaning that monitoring could only be done by supervisors physically sitting in on representatives' calls. Because scheduling and workforce management were being done manually, agents were experiencing call volume spikes as well as idle periods, leading to deficiencies in both employee satisfaction and productivity.
Recognizing the opportunities to increase its internal efficiency, last year Cellular One implemented a unified interaction management and workforce optimization solution from Aspect Software, allowing the company to integrate different modes of communication, including inbound and outbound communications and Internet contacts.
According to Roskuski, the new solutions allowed Cellular One to address a major problem that it was encountering-lack of data. In fact, the company wasn't able to measure its first-call resolution rate. "This, in and of itself, is clearly problematic," Roskuski notes. "Nevertheless, we knew for sure that the customer experience was not good enough, and that we simply had to do better." Roskuski adds that the new system allows Cellular One to identify callers and route them to the right agent, avoiding repetition and wasted time. By introducing self-serve capabilities that allow customers to pay bills and conduct other secure, transactional services on their own, Cellular One's agents are able to focus on other service needs of customers.
Roskuski says the company was also able to improve productivity by using outbound dialing for collections purposes, freeing agents from having to manually dial customers. This was especially important during a time when Cellular One was acquiring other companies, leading to a number of network and billing system updates that required contacting customers. Further, the company can record all calls, freeing supervisors who can use the time to provide more relevant coaching.
These changes have led to improvements in customer satisfaction scores, operational efficiency, and employee satisfaction. "We are all about one contact, one resolution, and treating our customers like royalty in the process," Roskuski says.
Focus on customers: During every interaction, customers want to feel that the company is working to improve their experience.
Improve agent efficiency: By automating tasks, agents can focus more on customers who need their help.
Leverage data: Giving agents access to customer data allows them to resolve issues more quickly.