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Reducing call center volume while maintaining C-SAT scores: No joke

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We all know the old joke: A guy says to his doctor, “It hurts when I do this [makes a waving motion].” His doctor studies the motion carefully and tells her patient, “Don’t do that.”

We’re often tasked with helping utilities to reduce their call volume. The easiest way to do that is to simply disconnect your phone number. But that’s not really diagnosing the issue. It’s not simply that we want to reduce call volume, but that we want to serve our customers’ needs with more cost-efficient methods. We cannot sacrifice customer service for reduced cost. For many, digital is the answer. But only if we focus on problem solving.

Another joke: A bank robber was once asked why he robbed banks, to which he replied, “That’s where the money is.”

If you want to know what’s driving calls to your customer service call center, ask the folks who answer the phones. You’re likely to find that a lot of people call for very similar reasons. One client I had identified that 90% of their call volume was related to the same 8 - 10 questions. Our response to that was to surface those top 10 questions, and their solutions, on the Support landing page. Call volume dropped by more than 20% in the first quarter.

In a previous life (read: at a different agency) I worked with a brilliant strategist named Shawn Thompson who said, “A company’s online customer support is an opportunity to fix a broken relationship.” Think about it: If someone is in the support section of your website, they’re likely trying to fix something. This is our opportunity to help them, and digital offers the widest variety of tools to aid in that endeavor. It’s a matter of choosing the right tool at the right time.

In that previous life I also had a client who employed a video producer who believed video was the answer to all problems. It was the proverbial “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Video is a powerful medium and really is the answer to helping solve some problems, especially those that require complex explanation. Of the 10 questions discussed above, we found that 8 of them could be answered with a few bullet points. Don’t make the customer watch a 5-minute video when 3 bullet points will do.

Online support is a golden opportunity, but it requires applying the same service-minded approach that make our most valued employees the best assets we have. It’s about being cognizant of the customer’s needs, in context of their experience. It’s about providing the best solution, in the best format. It’s about taking customer service seriously, which if done right, is no joke when it comes to savings and C-SAT.

Derek  Phillips's picture

Thank Derek for the Post!

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