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Analytics: Turning inbound calls into profitable customer relationships

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19th Feb 2008
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Many companies are missing a valuable opportunity to turn inbound customer interactions into profitable customer relationships. Patric Timmermans explains how a blend of analytics and customer service can maximise customer interaction, generate new revenue and induce loyalty.

By Patric Timmermans, Ph.D., Infor

In the face of increasingly fierce competition, organisations recognise that delivering good customer service simply isn’t enough. Customer service should be a prerequisite of customer engagement, and act as a foundation on which to improve customer profitability and loyalty to drive revenue for the organisation.

To achieve this, it is essential to offer the right products and services at the right time to the most appropriate customers. By segmenting customer groups by value and loyalty, low loyalty, high value customers can be offered loyalty bonuses to stay, whilst high loyalty, low value customers can be encouraged via incentives to increase their spending. Offering a loyalty bonus will help decrease customer churn resulting in an increase in profit levels. But how can this work in reality?

The following scenario takes place countless times every day. A customer calls a contact centre with a question or issue that needs to be resolved. After navigating various menus and prompts, the customer finally speaks to a customer service agent and receives the answer to the question, after which the call ends. Bearing in mind that many agents’ performance is measured by volume, the customer service agent quickly moves on to the next call.

"Too many companies measure the success of their call centres on the volume of calls processed in an hour. A better measurement would be how much incremental revenue is being generated and the call centre’s overall effectiveness in increasing share-of-wallet, or products sold per household."

Patric Timmermans, director of CRM product marketing, Infor

The problem with this scenario is that even if the customer enquiry is answered quickly and correctly, more often than not, the transaction represents a lost opportunity.

Too many companies measure the success of their call centres on the volume of calls processed in an hour. A better measurement would be how much incremental revenue is being generated and the call centre’s overall effectiveness in increasing share-of-wallet, or products sold per household.

Many companies are missing a valuable opportunity to turn inbound customer interactions into profitable customer relationships. And there really is no excuse. Advanced CRM technology can equip call centre agents with the tools to create profitable customer relationships and induce greater loyalty.

In the insurance industry, a customer might call to report a car accident and request a tow-truck. Instantly, the customer's profile is available to the agent, along with the customer’s account history and recent products purchased. Insurance company A organises for a tow-truck to be sent out and ends the conversation. This may be a good example of customer service but it is also a lost opportunity.

Insurance company B uses the information available to transform the conversation into a profitable, loyalty-inducing experience. For example, the customer will require a vehicle while his car is being repaired. The system, recognising the customer does not have coverage that includes a rental car, generates an offer in real time, along with an incentive. If the customer signs up for a year of additional coverage to include a rental, he can use the benefit now.

Or consider the customer who goes online to change the billing address for her mobile phone. Instead asking the customer to complete an online form and logging off, the change of address triggers an event. The system analyses the customer’s usage history and patterns and provides a real-time offer to increase her service package to the next level when she purchases a new phone and signs a two-year contract.

Targeted offers

These are real-world examples of how companies can maximise customer interaction, generate new revenue and induce loyalty.

For example, executives at one large telecommunications provider realised the company was missing a valuable opportunity every time a customer called into a contact centre. The company was failing to take advantage of the inbound interaction to sell additional products and increase its most important metric: average revenue per user.

The strategic use of technology within the company can enable customer service agents to cross-sell mobile, internet, landline and TV services - and present attractive offers that customers are likely to accept.

With the deployment of a CRM system to increase its inbound marketing effectiveness, the provider was able to offer in real time additional services that met the specific needs of each customer, rather than a generic promotion that would appeal only to a subset of customers. The strategic use of technology within the company now enables customer service agents to cross-sell mobile, internet, landline and TV services - and present attractive offers that customers are likely to accept.

The above operator has since realised a 15 percent increase in average revenue per user, a 75 percent increase in campaign velocity, an 18 percent increase in sales per hour and a 50 perent offer response rate versus the industry average of 35 percent.

When it comes to inducing loyalty, there is a delicate balancing act between meeting the current need of the customer and selling to that customer. Through keeping the following principles in mind this balance can be achieved.

• Maintaining a continuous customer dialogue. All customer communication, regardless of channel, should be consistent and relevant to the individual customer. By maintaining an ongoing dialogue with customers, companies learn more about their wants and needs and are able to offer superior products and services. This ongoing communication also leads to increased brand loyalty and customer retention.

• By using real-time analytics. Through ongoing communication, companies are able to gather and analyse more information to offer tailored promotions. For this to be successful, the analysis and offers must occur in real-time, when a product is front of mind. A follow-up mailer two weeks after the inbound interaction is likely to be dismissed and forgotten.

• By making every interaction count. Blend service, sales and marketing to provide a 360-degree view of the customer. With a continuous customer dialogue and real-time analytics, each customer interaction is preceded by another and all the information is captured and used, regardless of channel. Imagine that a customer logged onto a banking web site, clicked on an offer for a new credit card and then closed the window. The bank could capture that information and a customer service agent can ask the customer if he has any questions about the credit card offer when he next phones in.

A successful call centre strategy is one that can apply these principles to benefit customer service, customer profitability and customer loyalty.

Patric Timmermans is director of CRM product marketing at Infor. He holds a master of science degree in computer science and a Ph.D. in technology management from Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.

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By LisaWayne
25th Feb 2015 11:19

This blog is providing information about profitable customer relationships. This is necessary for the growth of the call center. It has been rightly said that a blend of analytics and customer service can maximize the customer interaction. To know more you can also visit: http://www.go4customer.com .

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