Introduction: Reducing cost while enhancing organizational fit
Regardless of the lofty strategic goals of organizations to transform to eloquent delivery of the customer experience, one fact remains – it must be cost-effective. Even in governmental or non-profit endeavours, resources are limited especially financial ones. This creates the dilemma of cost versus service, which one to choose?
What if you didn’t need to choose?
The organization is not going to in the proverbial lottery and even if it did, it may not dedicate it to the customer experience. “What if” is extremely significant in discovering how to deal with limited resources.
In order to effect cost savings, the most significant, costly legs of the experience must be reduced. Even the less costly should not be dismissed as important, because the exercise is a net cumulative reduction being sought.
The cost to experience the problem, however, is not a dilemma as many may think. It’s not an ‘either or’ choice. The problem needs to be seen holistically.
Customer Effort = Cost
The more effort customers expend in contacting the organization, the more cost is driven to interact with the customer. Hence, a reduction in customer effort drives a reduction in cost. A reduction in customer effort yields an increase in satisfaction. Increased satisfaction yields an engaged, promoting customer driving revenue.
This is the crucial organizational challenge facing organizations today and in the future.
The path to the (brighter) future
Reduce the cost, drive engagement, but how? It’s simpler
many may think, but by no means easy.
- Set your goals
This is a critical step and needs to be entered into with a long term vision. When setting your goals, don’t just say ‘reduce cost by 10% in contact centres’ as that is your latest financial goal. Instead, reframe your viewpoint to say ‘reduce 10% of the effort customers spend interacting with us’. The result of this view broadens the goal from a single cost centre to holistic customer experience improvement. This means that you are now focused on reducing the experience as the customer moves through it. If the web is failing, the cost is driven to the agent. If the IVR is poor, the agents who cannot handle the contact needs to transfer.
- Make your decisions based on real data
Often data falls short in two ways. One, it is siloed. Web to IVR to Agent back to Web to Agent is only seen in three separate buckets; Web, IVR and Contact Center. It is critical to link the interdependencies of multichannel (or omnichannel) journeys to understand the cause and effect. The causation of a poor IVR won’t show that it causes the transfer from Agent to Agent. Two, it is summarized already. The system for call routing provides an AHT measure based on its calculation, not the micro-level event data. This data is top-down analysis and subject to skew based on the system it is pulled from.
To based your analysis and decisions accurately, you need to Collect and Connect the Data in a fashion that supports micro-event level correlation throughout. This then sets the basis for substantive analysis.
- Make it simply visual
Become engaged with your data to drive visualizations of the interdependencies. This can be described in thousands of words, but why type when a picture will do.
As represented above, the customer effort is highest in this cluster (301) and a loop has begun from webpage P425 to Account Management to webpage P425 to Account Management. The loop is doubling the volume. The ‘fix’ is in the web, the cost reduction is in the contact centre.
- Take Action on your data
Based on leveraging your solid data, place actions into place. These rules-based actions move the decision point to the ‘left’ (earlier in interaction flow). As an example, a simple rule that says customer X spoke with Agent A and CRM resolution was reset the cable box. Customer X calls back within 2 hours. IVR dynamic rule moves from Agent A (general care) to technical care. The customer won’t be asked what they did, as this is presented in the journey to Agent B in Technical Care. Handle time and transfer and customer hold time are reduced. This benefit scales quickly.
- Monitor and Proact
Continual monitoring of Customer Effort is crucial to continual improvement. Real-time data must be fed to allow for the identification and action on high effort occurrences. When this happens, you are reacting so quickly that the tens, hundreds and even thousands of others who may have experienced higher effort never do, hence a proactive solution for much of the customer base.
In summary, Cost reduction is a focus on a cost centre. Effort reduction is a focus on experience improvement with the by-product of significant cost reduction. Doing this right with a skilled partner has yielded in year ROI in excess of 300%. Does anyone want to triple the return on an investment in a year?