Understanding Contact Drivers

(Note: The following is part of a new eBook from ICMI on contact center metrics, which will be released in October. Check back for announcements on availability.)

Executives of a business-to-business company that provides HR and payroll services met to discuss service strategy. They have an award-winning contact center, but were seeing warning signs of changes in customer expectations and were concerned about a growing number of “isolated” service delivery problems.

As questions came up about social, mobile and other fast-evolving channels, they toggled through a few social sites on a laptop projecting onto a screen. When they landed on their Facebook page, you could hear an audible gasp. Alongside well-intentioned and upbeat messages from the company was a string of posts from frustrated customers who needed help with a simple password reset. The contrast was glaring.

This led to a rapid-fire round of questions among the group. Why could these customers not get through using “normal” channels? Why was marketing not monitoring these posts, and why weren’t they reaching out to the contact center for help? Why wasn’t the contact center knocking on their door to help?

Welcome to a new era of customer access, characterized by multiple contact channels, expectations for virtually immediate service, and every customer armed with the means to broadcast their experience. Along with positioning the contact center to effectively handle these interactions, there is an even bigger opportunity: identifying and preventing the problems causing them in the first place.

Our advice falls into five overarching recommendations:

  1. shutterstock_242467771 graphTrack the reasons for contacts as specifically as feasible. This typically involves developing a hierarchical classification approach that presents agents with a menu of several levels—each having five to ten categories. This results in codes (125-plus) that can provide detailed insight into drivers.
  1. Track drivers across all contact channels (including traditional, social, mobile—the gamut). Use the same classification system across all interactions, and equip agents to use it consistently. Ensure that training, coaching and quality monitoring treat this aspect of contact handling as a priority.
  1. Graph the frequency of top drivers to identify trends. Simple line charts that show the relative occurrence of the ten or fifteen most common drivers can help identify priorities and the communicate effectiveness of improvement efforts.
  1. Act on what you’re learning. Work with colleagues across the organization to address issues at the source. This is where specificity of drivers is so important—it’s helpful to know that billing questions are causing contacts, but even more so to be able to drill down and see that relative changes related to seasonality is the main culprit. That provides an opportunity to improve how the information is presented to customers on statements.
  1. Communicate back to the contact center (and broader organization) the progress you are making in preventing or encouraging various types of contacts. Addressing the issues driving contacts leads to improvements in products, services, processes, roles and responsibilities, and communication. These efforts involve the broader organization (and suppliers) and inherently raise the contact center’s visibility and strategic value.