A Systematic Approach to Reducing Call Volume

Handling call volume has always been a challenge to service organizations. Now, in the multi-channel era where there are more channels and more interactions across channels—simply put, more of everything—the challenge is more complicated than ever.

Self-service channels are increasingly being adopted. Yet, our recent survey shows that this doesn’t bring any significant change in the number of inbound calls. Reducing call volume remains a difficult but important goal.

In order to succeed in this endeavor, we must acknowledge that customers are not looking to be delighted; they’re looking to solve their problems (Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers, Harvard Business Review). The good news is that this challenge can be navigated with a systematic approach to reducing call volume.
Think of all the calls that are avoidable – these can be divided into three categories: repeat calls, calls that could have been predicted and addressed upfront, and calls that originated in self-service. These types of calls represent obstacles that we must remove.
Repeat Call Reduction:

The way to start is by looking at contact center First Contact Resolution (FCR), which is about agent-handled interactions like calls, emails and chat that should have been resolved the first time. Every time customers have to call again, they are less satisfied and agents’ average handle time increases.
The key to increasing First Contact Resolution is:

  • Identification of repeat calls on the same issue
  • Definition of the FCR rate calculation, to establish a consistent measurement across the service organization
  • Understanding why customers are calling
  • Deep understandingofthe root cause of repeat calls

Predicted Call Reduction:

Once FCR rates are up and steady, the next step is to prevent the predictable next call. For example – you realize that 80 percent of your customers that upgrade to a smartphone in one of your retail stores call the contact center within 10 hours of their purchase to ask about synchronizing their work email.  Using interaction pattern identification, you are able to automatically identify this pattern and promptly act by proactively guiding customers while still at the store. Using advanced analytics capabilities to analyze large volumes of data and identify repeating patterns, this is made a reality.

Calls Originating in Self-Service Channels:

Over 50 percent of call volume comes from self-service channels “gone wrong” (see NICE’s Consumer Preferences Survey). Sure, these calls are often easy to answer and boost FCR and reduce Average Handle Time. Yet they could easily be resolved by locating the problem through specific self-service channel analysis. Using such methodology and tools can provide insights into improving the success of self-service channels such as the company website, IVR, and mobile apps.

Implementing a cohesive approach to call volume reduction, using this 3-step approach can yield significant reduction in inbound calls and associated costs. What would the impact of such an improvement be in your organization?

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