I saw a piece on Computerwire by Janine Milne today - "Poor IT Training Costs UK Contact Centers Billions" (subscription required) . Janine made the point that with 25% churn and complex IT systems, training is a huge problem for call centers. While the focus of the article was on better options for training, another comment caught my eye:
Responding to customer queries in real-time requires agents to be fully up to speed with their IT systems
It seems to me that this quote is very telling. If we want call center agents to respond to customers effectively and in real-time, then they need good information systems. However, I think that part of the problem with these systems and the reason they require so much training is that they are expecting the call center agent to make decisions about customer treatment. The information systems thus present information and options and force the call center agent to use and interpret. This, I think, leads to problems and steep training curves.
Instead, why not think about automating these critical customer decisions and using the information you have to make these decisions smarter, leaving your agents to have conversations with customers where the legwork of analyzing data and applying rules and regulations is already done? Where the key decisions are automated and managed by those who understand them and whose turnover is a lot lower. I have blogged about this a few times so I won't repeat myself. Check out:
- Using EDM to make call centers work better
- Some great McKinsey stats on call center automation
- Boosting Call Center Performance with EDM