Brendan Dykes | June 26, 2013
In Part One we saw that that there were three areas that the contact center operations team (Mission Control) could manage to address “problems” by matching work and resources.
The number of available skilled associates
The number of calls needing to be routed to skilled associates
The amount of time spent by associates dealing with calls
We explored the first of these in more detail, so here are tactics for addressing the other two.
2. The number of calls needing to be routed to skilled associates
We’ve looked at the supply side so now let’s look at the demand. On the face of it demand is much harder to manage but again there are tactics that can make the Contact Center operations more flexible:
‘In-queue’ messaging is often generic and inflexible. For example “All of our associates are busy, please hold on the line or you can go to our website at www...” This is not a personaliz... read more >
Brendan Dykes | June 25, 2013
43 years ago, in April 1970, the now infamous Apollo 13 space mission took place. During the flight an oxygen cylinder exploded crippling the mission but despite great hardship the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17. The now famous quote from the film of this mission of course is “Houston, we have a problem.”
Every day in contact centers all over the world we hear a similar cry, “… we have a problem”. Associates haven’t arrived, the call pattern doesn’t match the forecast or a host of other reasons is negatively impacting service levels and it’s only 9am on Monday.
How can the Mission Control team or Command Center team (or whatever you call the Contact Center operations teams get on top of this?
At its most basic there are only 3 things that the Mission Control teams can manage or influence:
The number of available skilled associates
The number of calls needing to be routed to skilled... read more >
Brendan Dykes | June 03, 2013
The Winchester ‘Mystery’ house is a well known Northern Californian landmark near San Jose. It was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, widow of the gun magnate William Wirt Winchester.
The house was under continuous construction for 38 years and incorporated the latest technologies of the day including steam and forced air heating, modern indoor toilets and plumbing (with a hot shower!) and push–button gas lighting.
Although in 1884 there were 147 builders at work on the property there were no architects involved. This approach resulted in the construction of a state-of-the-art abode which purportedly has 65 doors to blank walls, 13 staircases abandoned and 24 skylights in floors!
So how does this relate to your Customer Engagement environment?
Well for many organizations it’s just like the Winchester ‘Mystery’ house; they have the latest ‘state of the art’ technologies de... read more >
Brendan Dykes | May 24, 2013
The ACD has been around since the 1970s but grew into a key technology for the call center during the 80’s and 90’s.
In those early days the customer service world was usually very simple with many separate call centers set up for geographies or service types e.g. billing, product support etc. However, the demands on the call center have changed rapidly in the last 10 years:
It’s now a contact center which handles more than just calls
Calls are not just handled within the business but partners and outsourcers have been introduced
Geographies have been broken down and service knowledge distributed across teams in-order to drive better service and reduce cost
The ACD has been a key technology to support this change but in-order to support it, the contact center operations team has had to develop complex routing strategies and business processes to manage the skill changes to match the resources to the call arrival pattern. ... read more >
Brendan Dykes | May 21, 2013
In recent years, your relationship with your customers has become more and more digital, and delivering good customer service in this context will continue to be a challenge (it’s no surprise a consulting firm called one of their recent studies “Customer Service in 2020: Winning in a digital world”).
Delivering a good digital customer service experience does not just mean being reachable on all digital channels, i.e. Web, email, chat, social, mobile, …
Not only do you have to be reachable, but also, the experience you provide to your customers has to be consistent across those channels.
One other important thing about digital customer service is the need to keep the “human touch” in mind: even in a digital relationship, sometimes talking to someone is necessary, so you must be able to provide your customers a human interaction when they need it.
So, the question is: “Is your company deli... read more >
Brendan Dykes | May 14, 2013
The relationship with customers is like any relationship, it’s built on trust and on promises. 10 years ago I worked for a UK company who at that time saw its key differentiator being the customer experience that it delivered and the customer care that it offered as ‘part of the deal’.
As soon as I joined the organization I was inducted into this ‘brand culture’ and one of the key messages that has stuck with me ever since is that Brand is a promise delivered .
We all hate it when promises are broken, it’s often why personal relationships breakdown and it’s also why our relationship with organizations breakdown.
We all know that it’s easy to make promises but so often in business we fail to deliver and that ruins the reputation of the Brand.
In business, promises are made in many different ways:
The products and services we develop
The marketing messages we creat... read more >
Brendan Dykes | May 08, 2013
You know how it is, it’s Monday morning, more calls are coming in than were expected, not all of the staff have arrived or logged on yet and your customer service goals are already unachievable...
For the customers calling its equally as bad – they’ve worried about their problems and issues over the weekend, they’ve called you as soon as they could and now they are waiting in a queue with no idea when they’ll be answered and if that person will be able to assist them.
On top of all of this, the telephony technology supporting the call center is ageing, antiquated, inflexible and costly to keep updated and running.
You are in the contact center ‘Perfect Storm’!
The Customer Experience
When the contact center is in a storm it’s normally the customer who suffers the most. Long wait times that lead customers to try other routes that lead to more transfers. Repeat calls that lea... read more >
Brendan Dykes | April 08, 2013
Contact centers very frequently start small and evolve leading to silod operations that are built around lines of business or geographic areas.
As businesses grow additional centers are often added or outsource partners brought-in to gain ‘speed-to-market’ or create extra capacity at a lower cost. This brings higher levels of complexity and increasing potential for customer and employee frustration.
In order to keep the contact centers ‘focused’ on answering customers any work that cannot be handled there is then passed off to other administration teams; the Back Office.
With so many silos there are many opportunities for a break down in service which again can lead to customer frustration and lowered staff morale, a vicious circle that will ultimately drive customers and your best contact center resources away.
Here are four steps for moving from this unfortunate cycle.
Step 1 – Break u... read more >
Brendan Dykes | March 27, 2013
In the classic Disney film trilogy Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear uses the now iconic catch phrase, “to infinity and beyond” as his ‘clarion call’.
In today’s customer experience driven world this phrase should be our clarion call too, why? Because the worlds of customer service and Employee Engagement can no longer be seen as separate domains they have become inextricably linked in ways that mean that decisions in one area can have an infinite number of consequences on the experience in the other.
Back in the ‘90s the concept of ‘virtuous’ and ‘vicious’ circles was a popular concept in ‘Total Quality Management’ (TQM) circles. The idea was that one bad ‘process’ or ‘action’ will drive behaviours that would further worsen the situation driving a ‘vicious’ cycle but that one good ‘process’ or ‘action’ would do the opposite. I be... read more >
Brendan Dykes | March 20, 2013
Want to improve customer satisfaction with your service? The first thing to do is to look at your routing strategies.
According to research by Convergys, the top three reasons people are unhappy with customer service are:
Having to make multiple attempts to resolve a problem
Resolutions that take too long
Having to repeat themselves
You can significantly reduce all of these problems through the smart application of contact center routing strategies. Connecting people with the right person the first time accelerates resolutions and makes for happier customers.
The problem: Variable demand, finite resources
The trick to providing good customer service is lining up your resources with customer needs to deliver a consistent customer experience.
At first glance, consistency seems to be mathematically impossible:
On the one hand, you have fixed resources: a fixed number of agents, limited skill sets, and a limited ... read more >
Brendan Dykes | January 28, 2013
For many many years customer service operations have been using external resources or outsourcers to get additional capacity for their customer service operation. For the customer this means that the customer experience may be different from one outsourcer to another.
For whatever reason this ‘hybrid’ model has become very common, but for many organizations, this model has made the service offering far more complex to manage. It has not always delivered the standard of customer service that many top brands would expect and has not necessarily delivered the business benefits that were originally thought would be delivered.
The provision of the outsource service and its infrastructure to support it is usually separated from the main contact center environment meaning that it is isolated in its own silo.
Let’s look at the three key models generally used by organizations.
1. Network Delivered Outsourcing
This has been... read more >
Brendan Dykes | October 06, 2011
Part 2 – Understanding the symptoms…
In the hit US TV series ‘House’, Dr Gregory House M.D. (portrayed by the great English actor Hugh Laurie) and his oft times harassed team are usually faced with a set of symptoms that seem to point at one diagnosis but ultimately (and after much drama and humour) turn out to be something quite different and usually far more obscure! Getting to the reasons for ‘customer dissatisfaction and satisfaction’ often seems to be a similar experience…
The Customer Effort Audit (CEA) is that ‘diagnostic’ process to understand the symptoms. For me it is vital that customers and staff are knowingly engaged in the process. Customers and staff will need to be aware that they are participating in a process that will require the organisation to know who they are but that it is aiming to make life easier.
The first step is for customers to be engaged to Customer Effort Sc... read more >