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Boosting Call Center Performance with EDM

Another great McKinsey on IT article - Using IT to boost call-center performance - caught my eye. One quote in particular leaped out:

The next wave of improvements will probably come from using technology to automate contact with callers, to help front line staff resolve calls, and to handle call volumes more efficiently.

If we think about how one could apply EDM in a call center, the first two issues come to the fore - automating contact with callers and helping front line staff resolve calls. These kinds of high-volume, automated transactions are the ideal target for EDM projects. Part of completing these transactions is to make a decision immediately, even when that decision must follow complex rules (state and local regulations that apply to this particular customer, retention policies, refund rules etc) and apply risk-based or opportunity-based criteria (estimated lifetime value of a customer, credit worthiness of a customer etc).

Applying EDM in these circumstances means:

  • Identifying the decisions that enable customers to self-server and call center staff to resolve calls
    • Can I get this limit increased?
    • What offer can I make to this customer to retain them?
    • Can I refund this charge to this customer given this additional data?
    • Which part do I need to order to fix my broken product given this symptoms?
  • Documenting and implementing the rules that apply (regulations, policies)
  • Empowering those who understand the regulations or set the policies to manage them directly so they can be responsive to change
  • Embedding executable analytics to assess risk and opportunity and adding rules to take advantage of these factors
  • Deploying the decisions behind the call center application, the IVR and the website as needed.

Interestingly McKinsey found that more than 60% of customers favor an automated option and the rest were happy to be offered one if they had the option to go to a person. They also found that customers like it when they get issues resolved on the first call - customers don't want to be referred to supervisors or told that someone will have to call them back. Think about the times this has happened to you - were any of them not about decisions?

A couple of things to close. The authors identify customization, fixing it at the front line and know who's calling as key things. All of these involve automating decision-making.

There's more on this on the Defying the Limits project (registration required) and elsewhere on the blog.

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