Next Call Avoidance – New Predictive Analytics Makes It a New Reality
By John Finch, Sr. Director, Product Marketing of Enkata
We live in a multi-channel, connected world where consumers not only expect brands and service providers to address their immediate issues; they look for companies to proactively anticipate their longer-term needs.
In the early days of multi-channel customer service, companies could build their customer centricity strategies around the ability to respond to customer issues. To serve today’s consumer, the ability to simply respond and react is no longer enough. The new realities of business demand that companies stay one step ahead of their customers. Progressive companies acquire a competitive edge by tapping into customer experience analytics and business intelligence to anticipate their customers’ intent – and gain operational efficiencies as well.
Every interaction between customer and company has the potential to resonate far beyond the immediate incident. Current customer satisfaction strategies focus on successfully resolving the customer’s reason for initiating contact – First Contact Resolution (FCR).This is sensible given the significant negative impact on customer satisfaction of having to make repeated contacts to achieve resolution. Taking care of a customer on the initial contact makes it easy to do business with a company. A recent survey published in the Harvard Business Review cited the need to call back about a problem as the biggest cause of undue customer effort.
Bad customer service is a business killer. The HBR survey reported that while 25% of customers are likely to say something positive about their experience, more than twice as many, 65%, are likely to speak negatively. Solving customer issues on the first contact needs to be a key performance metric for any service organization.
Customer centric companies moved quickly to FCR as a key metric for tracking and improving customer satisfaction. Leading edge thinking and strategy is taking it to the next step to be proactive with customers. The next level of contact center management and strategy is centered on Next Contact Avoidance (NCA). NCA anticipates why customers might make contact in the future. NCA trains Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) on how to anticipate and preempt future contacts. It has been shown to reduce call volumes by 20% to 30% in twelve months, and improve customer retention.
NCA is a new approach that is gaining traction among innovative executives and leading edge companies. When paired together, First Contact Resolution and Next Contact Avoidance initiatives significantly reduce the effort of doing business with a company by resolving current issues on first contact as well as issues that have yet to occur.
The new thinking around contact center management redefines resolution. Next Contact Avoidance necessitates new methods of training, management, CSR skills and analytics. NCA works on many different levels for a company and its customers. From a technology level it is an analytical framework that identifies which interactions routinely drive follow-on contacts.
FCR and NCA technologies must have the depth of analytics capabilities to quickly correlate patterns in contact sequences. Contact sequences point directly to patterns of contacts that frequently lead to follow-on contacts with a specific customer issue.
From a performance management level the solution must extend the effectiveness of coaching systems, quality monitoring and customer survey systems by identifying those agents most and least effective at proactively addressing issues leading to next contacts.
A Three-Step Approach to Next Contact Avoidance Change Management:
Next Contact Avoidance requires change. Every company will have its unique situation, complications and challenges. However, there are three common steps for any company to implement this strategy:
Create Staff Buy-In: According to many experts it is essential to make sure that the contact center staff is educated and has complete confidence in and of the changes associated with NCA. It must be used “as a closed loop process to capture, measure, identify and fix anything that interferes with the service quality, effectiveness productivity and consistency of the contact center.” (DMG Consulting).
Change the Metrics: “Contact centers tend to focus on short-term profitability metrics – how many calls can I answer in one hour? How quickly can I wrap up the call? How frequently can I answer the customer’s concerns the first time so that we don’t have repeat calls?
These types of metrics are standard for a contact center, and are geared toward maximizing the efficiency of the contact center. The problem with these typical call metrics is that they usually are in direct conflict with what is required to achieve customer satisfaction and a customer experience that drives loyalty – a longer-term metric.” (Jennifer Monahan-Searles, contact center consultant.)
Collect Feedback from Customers: As the HBR team noted “companies neglect to use the data they collect from unhappy customers.” That’s a huge element in the 360-degree customer experience view that feeds NCA. The NCA strategy improves customer satisfaction by reducing repeat calls. It helps managers and agents understand key process issues impacting the customer experience. It visually maps the customer experience across selfservice and live channels. According to analysts at Gartner Group, satisfaction measurement feedback collected immediately after an interaction event is 40% more accurate than feedback collected 24 hours (or later) after the event.
Next Contact Avoidance is the next level for contact center customers, agents, managers and even the C-suite. It starts with analytics. Track the reasons that customers call in the first place, measure that, and companies gain insight into providing true customer satisfaction. Just as First Call Resolution improved the efficiencies of many companies’ contact centers, Next Contact Avoidance will introduce new metrics and even better results. There’s too much at stake to risk alienating a customer with excessive effort on their part. Align with what customers want; measure the response in different ways.