The need to optimize service operations and manage their costs is a fundamental driver of modern business. Executives responsible for websites, mobile platforms, call centers, IVRs and other points of contact are vigilant for new savings opportunities in their channel.
This serves to highlight the question faced by managers forced to look within the narrow confines of a particular channel, “What can we do better here?” While many companies do some qualitative analysis, it can prove difficult to take decisive action if the only empirical evidence is an offhand remark made by a customer speaking to an agent about a problem previously encountered in another channel.
Linking upstream customer interactions with agent calls helps shine a spotlight on the true opportunities for cost reduction. At this very moment, such possibilities are hiding in the data that companies collect but do not connect. Without looking at the entire sequenced customer journey, it is nearly impossible to determine the true root cause of an agent interaction.
Such insight is a big deal. When a web or mobile interaction costs a penny, an IVR interaction perhaps a nickel, and a single agent call can range from $4-$15, journey connections make it possible to identify underlying causes to target for improvement.
This is fact, not conjecture. One large banking client receives approximately 12 million phone calls per month. About 60% are contained by the IVR, meaning 40% of calls reach an agent at an average cost of $5 per call or a total of $24 million per month. Improving containment in the IVR by just a single percentage point would save $600,000 per month or $7.2 million annually.
So what can journey analytics reveal for your business?
Finding broken, hidden, or missing functionality
In today’s digital world, more and more customers want to self-serve and get things done on their own terms. So while some customers may prefer to call and spend time on the phone with an agent, there is a contingent of digital-savvy customers that would rather avoid this at all costs. Analysis from one bank shows that nearly 30% of agent interactions originated in a digital channel in the 24 hours prior to calling. This highlights a huge opportunity for containment.
Identifying calls that are preceded by failed web or mobile interactions reveals where additional optimization of the digital channel can assure a customer’s ability to self-serve successfully. There is also a case where customers were in digital, but simply never found the functionality that they ultimately called about; this could indicate hidden features that could be improved with better, or more intuitive, website or app design.
Another challenge occurs when customers undertake an action with an agent that they could not do in the web or mobile channel because the functionality does not exist. If, for example, 50,000 callers per month reach an agent to dispute a charge, but data reveals that 20,000 of those callers were on the website or mobile app within the 24 hours prior, there may be an opportunity to build functionality to contain them within the digital channels.
By linking data about the digital experience with the phone experience, it is possible to see where digital is not performing adequately and results in calls. However, this is only possible by looking across the customer journey as it progressed within and between channels.
Get more from the IVR
Companies often overlook optimizing their IVR, perhaps because it is not as “sexy” as digital platforms or as cost-intensive as call centers. This is unfortunate, as the IVR is a company’s last low-cost line of defense before a call reaches an expensive agent. If IVR containment were 100%, a company might not even need a call center!
As described in the banking example above, an effective IVR can lead to tremendous savings. Maybe the IVR is not presenting the most significant options to customers. Can the layout of the options be improved or streamlined to prevent the reflexive “press zero” action? Can authentication be improved to allow more customers to attempt self-service? Are customers unable to move forward because their “speak anything” decisions are not being recognized? Better understanding of IVR experiences that end in agent conversations can point to specific improvements.
Reduce repeat calls
Companies with call centers already track per-call metrics – reasons for calls, the volume of calls, agent identity, and so on. What a journey perspective adds are downstream connections to subsequent calls. This helps answer critical cost-related questions such as how often customers call back, why they call back, which agent interactions result in particular callbacks, and more. Many companies use the traditional method of call listening to identify call center issues. This often leads to making inferences on a very small sample. By connecting the full multi-call journey for all customers, we can look more holistically at the issues driving repeat calls. This added insight makes it possible for companies to examine more closely where the problem occurs – process, person, or otherwise – and address it with a suitable solution.
These are just a few of many opportunities for reducing service operations costs, and all are relatively easy to explore with FOX by taking existing channel metrics and extending them to provide a bigger, broader journey perspective. And that’s only a start when it comes to cost savings.
For example, connecting data about calls where an agent educates a customer about digital capabilities to data about that customer’s future digital usage creates myriad opportunities for optimization. A journey perspective makes possible a far more robust, multi-channel scorecard that establishes a roadmap for significant cost reduction.
Changing how calls are triaged, which agents handle which types of calls, providing agents with better training, implementing digital and IVR enhancements to eliminate calls, and much more are all opportunities that can be brought within reach to impact the bottom line – but only if you have the tools to see them clearly.