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Unclogging the Branch and Call Center Traffic Jam

Edward Vidal, Director IT Service Management Office, Memorial Healthcare System
Edward Vidal, Director IT Service Management Office, Memorial Healthcare System

Edward Vidal, Director IT Service Management Office, Memorial Healthcare System

When was the last time you placed a call to a Call Center? Was it your first or last option before you placed that call to obtain help? Think about that experience. Was it pleasant? Did you try anything else in order to avoid making that call?

I recently called a contact center, listened to numerous prompts and their attempt with artificial intelligence to provide service to my issue. I tried several options, but became frustrated and ultimately pressed zero and asked to speak to a customer service agent. Once I was on the phone with an agent, I answered a few of their questions and provided them my contact information. I stated my issue and they weren’t able to assist me so I had to be transferred to another agent. The next agent asked me all the same questions and contact information. Needless to say, I was not a happy customer.

The above scenario is not the most pleasant experience or efficient way to reduce traffic to your Call Center. Although some of these examples are exaggerated for this article, I’ve had similar experiences when contacting a Call Center. Running a Call Center like this is not the best approach if you want to Unclog the Branch and Call Center Traffic Jam.

Below are three examples I want to share with you to help you unclog the jam and turn all your customer experiences into positive outcomes. What I’m about to share is based on my experience in Information Technology supporting internal and external users and customers. I have worked in a several vertical markets including Higher Education, Hospitality and Healthcare. Many of these principles can be applied to any Call Center or industry.

Knowledge Base (KB)

Provide online references or knowledge base articles to allow your customers to help themselves. Ensure your knowledge base is up to date with the most current articles. This can be done with versioning and expiration dates on each article. Ensure you have an owner for each article outside your Call Center so feedback can be provided and changes made in a timely manner. I recommend using the Knowledge Centered Service, KCS, model as a best practice. KCS was created to reuse, improve, and create knowledge within the service organization, also known as Knowledge Management. KB articles also allow your support personal to help answer your customers’ questions without escalating the issue to another team.

Another benefit of KB articles is when your Call Center agent resolves the issue; they can add the KB article to the ticket. I’ll use the word ticket for this article which is similar to case, incident or request in other industries. Depending on the tool your organization uses, when resolving or closing the ticket, an automated email is sent to the user documenting the steps taken to resolve the issue with the KB article attached, so the user can refer to it in the future, hence saving a future phone call.  

Self-Service Portal

This is the preferred method where your customers should go to obtain assistance to reduce phone calls and lower your operational costs. Similar to your Call Center menu, don’t make it difficult to obtain assistance. Ensure you build a user friendly online portal with minimal amount of clicks to create a positive customer experience. Last year, our organization had to revise our Service Portal and Service Catalog because our users were unable to find what they needed. Because of this, calls were also coming to the Service Desk, clogging up the phone lines with calls which could have been avoided.

Along with your Self-Service Portal, having a Service Catalog to place requests reduces phone calls. At Memorial Healthcare System, my current organization, we have eliminated almost 80,000 request calls in the last 12 months. In addition, our Self-Service Portal over the last 12 months hasredirected13.1% or 19,000 calls for break/fix issues. These issues once submitted, are auto routed to the second level support teams which reduces the workload and call volume to the Service Desk.

Password resets

In the IT support industry, 30 to 35% of all calls to a Service Desk are password resets or unlocking accounts. Organizations should consider investing in the technology to reduce these calls. If you calculate the cost per call, you begin to understand the amount of time and costs your organizations are spending in not only supporting these calls, but lost productivity from your internal users. Reducing these types of calls recoups your investment in a short amount of time and at the same time, improves the customer experience.

Laying the infrastructure in place for your customers before they contact your call center is key to creating a positive customer experience and unclogging the traffic jam of calls. Automated prompts, reduction of options and short recordings are not going to make a difference if the most reliable method of support for your users is to contact the Call Center. Your approach may be different depending on the maturity of your organization. These three examples are a few approaches to consider when attempting unclogging the traffic jam in your Call Center.

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