Efficiency and Effectiveness: The Yin and Yang of Your Contact Center

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December 16th, 2010

In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin and yang describes how two seemingly conflicting forces are in fact interdependent and, when viewed together, form a greater whole. Contact center managers know this concept well—you confront the tension between two apparently conflicting goals every day: efficiency and effectiveness.

Efficiency focuses on reducing the time spent on tasks, while effectiveness focuses on how well those tasks are performed. Focusing too much on either can lead to problems. Hammer your agents on handle times (efficiency), customer satisfaction may suffer. Put all of your emphasis on customer satisfaction (effectiveness) and handle times may shoot through the roof. But obviously the two are connected. As the contact center’s yin and yang, their combined greater whole is nothing less than the long-term success of your business.

So how do you find—and keep—the right balance between the two? Start by being super-efficient on routine interactions with your customers: making payments, checking the status of a service request or updating account information. It’s important to handle relatively simple interactions like these promptly and correctly, because they don’t add value to your customer relationships as much as they subtract if done poorly.

Once you’ve got a handle on the basics, you can focus on the more complex, value-add interactions with customers. Subscribing to a service, applying for a loan or credit card, creating a family account—these are the kinds of transactions that build loyalty and improve the bottom line. Shifting focus to these interactions is a no-brainer, right? As you know, doing it can be quite complicated. Customer Dynamics Optimization (CDO) can help.

Customer Dynamics describes the ongoing interchange of interactions and transactions between a business and its customers. Optimizing (or taking control of) these dynamics provides insights that can indicate if you’re focusing too much on efficiency or effectiveness, and help you get back in balance.

For example, CDO enables you to look at all the ways your company interacts with customers, and see where efficiency can be improved, without compromising service. Are you accurately forecasting contact volumes? Are you scheduling agents such that they’re online when they’re needed to consistently meet service goals? Are your agents performing as expected and keeping to their schedules? Can you direct customers to more efficient service channels, such as the web?

And what about effectiveness? CDO helps tackle tough questions such as: do your customers have to contact you more than once to resolve an issue? Why don’t customers complete interactions online and end up calling Customer Service? Are gaps in agent skills or knowledge creating customer dissatisfaction?

Optimizing Customer Dynamics not only lets you analyze your business’ efficiency and effectiveness across communication channels; it helps you impact them in real time. With technologies like next-best action guidance, real-time decisioning and process automation you’re able to influence the outcome of customer interactions as they occur, improving both effectiveness and efficiency in perfect yin-yang harmony.

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