Does your contact centre need a sat nav?

14th Nov 2011

Imagine if a contact centre agent could be told the ideal route a call will take, and presented with the next best actions in real-time, so that the customer and organisation end up at the best possible destination. It's not such a pipedream, says Craig Pumfrey.

Improvements to operational efficiency are typically judged on whether the initiative has sped up the average transaction time, but all to often a consequence of hitting this target is a drop in effectiveness. The truth is that efficiency and effectiveness should not be odds with each other and can exist harmoniously. The reward for achieving this balance is a contact centre where average handle time is reduced, first call resolution is improved, cross-sell and up-sell is increased, customer loyalty is strengthened and process compliance is adhered to.
So the obvious question is, why isn’t everyone doing it?
Ironically, one of the hurdles has been the influx of information and applications that contact centres have introduced in recent years, ranging from knowledge management, online catalogues, billing, ordering applications, to often-complex CRM systems. Visit most contact centres today and you will find agents flitting from screen-to-screen in order to complete what the layman would expect to be a straightforward transaction.
This constant need for multitasking not only increases handle time and tries the patience of the customer, it also de-focuses the agent from really listening to the customer and delivering a high-quality interaction. In fact, one solution to the problem that I have even heard mooted was to increase the size of agent screens to accommodate this apparently necessary need to juggle.
As I was making a long drive home from a meeting last week it struck me that the ideal seat in a contact centre, would not be to dissimilar from the seat in my car (and I don’t me leather and heated!). From my driving position I want to be able to focus on getting from A to B with as little distraction as possible. Meanwhile, to keep me heading in the right direction my sat nav has plotted the most efficient and effective route, clearly prompting me along the way, and should I veer off course it will quickly get me back on track. What’s more it is also taking real-time information from other sources to make sure I avoid joining the end of a 10-mile tailback on the M4.
Now I am not suggesting that agents should have a ‘contact centre sat nav’ stuck on their screens. However, knowing the ideal route a call will take and using all possible data sources to present the agent with next best actions in real-time (or assisting them by automatically completing the task), to arrive at the best possible destination for both the customer and the organisation, is the principle behind a new concept known as Real Time Impact (RTI).
Reach your destination
RTI is far more than an agent guidance system and way removed from the myriad of scripting packages available on the market. So to best explain how it actually works in practise lets run through a typical agent/customer interaction from beginning to end.
An agent working in the contact centre of a high-street bank is presented with an inbound call from Jennifer. He greets and authenticates Jennifer, who has an account balance enquiry regarding her credit card. In this instance the agent is using Salesforce CRM and he opens a new task on her customer file and types ‘account balance’ in to the subject line, triggering the RTI system to automatically present data (as a pop-up) live from the billing terminal on to the agent screen. He in turn answers Jennifer’s without need to navigate applications, shaving seconds off the call. 
The analytics system used by the contact centre flags Jennifer as having a high customer satisfaction score, making her receptive to a cross-sell opportunity, so the system guides the agent to ask a couple of qualifying questions. The agent notes Jennifer’s answers on the system and as she fits the right profile the offer to upgrade to a Platinum credit card is suggested. Now, the agent is clearly presented with all of the tools they need to win the new business including a link to the relevant knowledge base to drill down to more product detail, competitor offers, Jennifer’s account overview, a script that can be followed and advice on how to handle common objections.
Jennifer chooses to accept the new card and with the click of a button the agent sees the order entry system which has already been populated with the agent, customer and product details, eliminating the time taken and errors that come from data re-entry, or cut and paste. Finally, as the agents wraps up the call the RTI system is still working hard in the background and provides the agent with a concise summary of the call which can be emailed to the customer.
As a result of using RTI the customer service experience was enhanced, the agent was given the right information at the right time via an easy-to-use interface help achieve the best possible outcome (which in this instance was first time resolution of the initial enquiry and a successful cross sell), the call was handled in-line with the organisations best practises.
RTI is being viewed as a significant next step in the evolution of the contact centre and it has already been adopted by banks, insurance brokers, retail, telecoms and utility companies and with some impressive results in both efficiency and effectiveness such as 20 second decreases in average handle time and 20% increases in plans sold per call being reports. For the ‘drivers’ themselves (the agents) RTI has received an 87% endorsement rating.
A contact centre that operates efficiently and effectively will have a positive impact on the business and the customer experience. Once you achieve this, you have reached your destination!


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