Communications service providers (CSPs) spend a lot of money on their call centers. Whether outsourced to a third-party or run as an in-house department, it is expensive to recruit and pay employees, provide IT infrastructure and train staff on the latest troubleshooting tools.
As a result, many of our CSP customers ask me the same question: is it possible to leverage this investment and train our customer service teams to be an extension of our sales teams? Luckily, the answer is yes; with the right tools.
3 considerations in turning ‘cost center’ to ‘revenue generator’
One of the challenges of operating a call center is the relatively high rate of turnover. The average annual rate of attrition is typically 40%.1 In other words, most customer service representative (CSR) stick around for just 2.5 years.
The next challenge is training. Typically, best practices are only followed by new CSRs. Once a process has been memorized, it is rarely referred to again. As a result, when changes are required — such as updated pricing or new service offerings — it is often difficult to communicate it quickly and effectively to all CSRs.
Finally, tools availble to CSRs often lack the information required to make targeted, personalized offers to customers. Attempting to sell new products — or upgrades — is not effective unless the offers resonate with customers.
Workflows really work
As reported by one of my colleagues in his recent blog “Customer care goes hi-tech”, the use of guided step-by-step instructions (aka ‘workflows’) is becoming more common for problem resolution. Workflows ensure a consistent approach to customer issues, enable faster response times and provide the latest information on processes, pricing and service offerings.
Thanks to a variety of different analytics applications, workflows can also be supplemented with client-specific information, making it easier to resolve technical issues. For a customer calling with a complaint or problem, something important happens when their issue is resolved quickly. The customer’s attitude changes and they are more receptive to upsell offers.
In fact, surveys report that nearly three-quarters of consumers are willing to spend more with a business that exceeds their expectations. 67% of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for churn, but only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain.
As with troubleshooting, analytics-enabled workflows can also help to generate revenue, by providing CSRs with the information needed to propose the right upgrades at the right time to the right customers. Typical upsell opportunities might include unlimited data plans (based on historic usage patterns), upgraded handset offers (based on age of device) or a faster Internet connection (based on updated service packages).
While it’s true that upselling is easier when a customer is happy, the inverse is also true. For this reason, if the analytics engine detects information about recent service disruptions or angry calls to the call center, the workflow will not present the CSR with upsell offers for that customer.
Turn the call center into a differentiator
Given the investment that CSPs make in their call centers, using CSRs as an extension of the sales team makes a lot of sense. With the right tools in place, it can be a recipe for success.
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1 “Metric of the Month: Annual Agent Turnover”, Jeff Rumburg, Metricnet, 2013; http://www.thinkhdi.com/~/media/HDICorp/Files/Library-Archive/Insider%20Articles/annual-agent-turnover.pdf
2 50 Important Customer Experience Stats for Business Leaders, Esteban Kolsky, thinkJar, 2016; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vala-afshar/50-important-customer-exp_b_8295772.html