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Providing a seamless customer journey is becoming a key differentiator for brands, and contact centres are playing an increasingly important role in transforming this process. Debbie Nolan, business development director at arvato UK & Ireland, discusses how contact centres can improve customer satisfaction by identifying the problems that are triggering calls to the service centre in the first place.

For many businesses, a significant share of the calls received by their contact centres comes from disgruntled customers who have had their customer journey disrupted by an issue that requires further assistance. Website malfunctions are a common example and a particular problem across the airline industry, where a large number of calls are triggered by errors in the online booking and check-in processes.

No matter how good a service the contact centre agent provides to help resolve the case, the outcome is often a poor customer satisfaction rating because the customer could not complete the process online as expected. The impact of this can be significant. According to research from McKinsey, companies that focus on providing a superior experience across the customer journey achieve a 10-15 per cent increase in revenue and a 20 per cent rise in consumer satisfaction on average.

As brands strive to improve the customer experience by ensuring the transition between each touchpoint is seamless, the contact centre is becoming increasingly key to identifying some of the common problems triggering service calls. By simply altering the process of speaking to customers, brands can improve the customer experience while reducing the number of calls received, ultimately lowering the cost of their customer service overall.

Providing the data to make the difference

Rather than focussing solely on resolving the customer query, businesses should analyse service calls to differentiate between the symptom (or the problem the customer needs help with) and the cause (the specific reason that has triggered the problem in the first place).

Practically speaking, when a contact centre agent receives a call from a customer, the specific reason for calling – to process a booking request for additional luggage, for example – is usually identified through conventional call coding methods. However, the actual trigger, such as an error message on the website or the unavailability of the online luggage booking service, is often missed, meaning the core problem goes unreported.

Lessons can be learned from arvato UK’s partnership with one of the world’s leading airlines, where obtaining the right information from customers during service calls and feeding the data back to senior management at the airline has helped identify and resolve issues more quickly.

Using an analysis tool, which contains a network of carefully worded questions designed to be asked at the beginning of each service call, allows agents to identify both the triggers and contact reasons without a marked increase in average call handling time. By creating short reports after each call, the contact centre can then build a daily analysis of what issues are at play for the airline and their severity. Measuring a trigger’s commonality then allows the call centre managers to extrapolate its share in overall service volume and gain an insight into the cost to the business.

Not only does this enable firms to prioritise problem areas, it also allows the contact centre to provide recommendations on whether alternative channels could be used to handle specific problems more effectively – whether that’s by phone, web chat or social media. By documenting and analysing call triggers, we’ve been able to help our identify a number of improvements along the customer journey that would reduce calls to the contact centre by 10 per cent – equivalent to more than 100,000 call minutes per month.

Together with identifying issues, the data is also used to feed an intuitive online search function. When attempting to solve an issue, customers often expect to find a simple answer on a brand’s website before making contact with an organisation. By using the insights from the customer service centre conversations, the FAQs can be continually adapted to ensure the problems passengers are currently encountering are always addressed online, meaning customers can resolve their issues quickly without the need for telephone contact with the airline.

Contact centres can play a greater customer service role

With customer service playing a central role in influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions, firms are having to place greater emphasis on delivering a seamless customer journey with as little disruption as possible. No other part of an organisation has the ability to collate such detailed information on customer problems, which means contact centres can play a key part in advising businesses where future improvements should be made, whether that’s for small website malfunctions or wider departmental transformations.

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