Saturday, November 27, 2010

Impossible IVR

This one is a little unfair, but I found it amusing none the less. I do dread ringing my mobile provider at the best of times, but when I had a Blackberry it was particularly annoying. The provider in question always had an IVR menu that ended in "enter the 2nd and 4th letter of  your password" message some way through the tortuous navigation.

Not sure why they had this,  did it really reduce AHT that much by preventing the agent from having to ask ? I suppose in large contact centres a 5 second gain in AHT makes a huge difference.

Anyway moving on...

On a Blackberry the numeric keys don't have letters on them like other phones, so how you are meant to enter text on IVR is beyond me.  Having to grab another phone to work it out when you have just spent an eon getting through the tortuous menus in the first place is pretty annoying, especially if you got bounced back and had to wait for an operator who wouldn't be in the skill group you were after.

Being an averagely good soul I used to mention this to the agent to point out the stupidity of it, but it never changed and that is probably the thing that irked me the most.

I can understand that the IVR menu designer would miss the use case (but in truth shouldn't have as they should have run scenarios with all types of handsets). BUT having repeatedly mentioned it  to them you would have thought there were processes in place to capture that insight and do something about it.

Brands are constantly looking for insight and the agent is at the front end of all this, being able to flag up feedback and analyse it has to be at the forefront of improving the customer experience. I have witnessed webchat teams in which the agents are extremely knowledgeable about the website experience and that the site owner is constantly talking to the agents to capture valuable insight to build into the next site release. Why does it appear that some brands don't do the same for the contact centre experience? Perhaps they need to learn from their web peers who spend a great deal of effort in constantly modelling the users experience and refining it?

Perhaps it is that the dreaded KPI's are driving a behaviour that doesn't allow this kind of insight capture i.e. the constant focus on AHT cuts out anything beyond dealing with the query at hand as fast as humanly possible. Does it really cost that much if the agent spends 30 seconds capturing a comment once in a while ? Think of the value that could be derived if some verbatim was captured by the agent which could be analysed, categprised and acted upon.

This got me thinking a little further about the priorities that drive contact centre experiences. It is of course critical to run an efficient operation, costs can spiral if one element is out of whack or worse still customer satisfaction can drop like a stone. The issue for me is that setting tight targets on  KPIs can be counter productive. IMHO this can be especially difficult when part or all of the contact centre is outsourced. So much focus in the outsource selection and purchasing cycle is spent on reducing costs that the commercial model put in place drives the outsourcer to achieve targets which may not be in the best interests of the customer. An example might be having a cost per contact model, a great model for the brand but even if there are bonuses for improvements in C-SAT it may be that driving down AHT would earn the outsourcer more.

Anyway back to the plot. For me the core issues are Capturing the feedback, Analysing it and Acting upon it. If the KPI targets prevent taking the time to capture during a call, then other methods can be used such as post call surveys for which there are lots of tools to make this easy. But I do wonder whether the responses are analysed deeply i.e. I am sure the quantitative data such as NPS type questions are reported on and poured all over, but  I wonder how many surveys have room for verbatim/comments with the analysis to derive the all important actionable insight. For me it is this unstructured data which is the goldmine.

Anyway with my phone I solved the problem by buying an iPhone instead (well not really to solve that problem I just wanted an iPhone)

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