West Corporation

Posted on June 4, 2013 by West Corporation 



When NOT Finishing What You Start Pays Off Big Time

We’ve all grown up with our parents, teachers and mentors telling us to, “Finish what you start.” It makes total sense because no one wants a job that’s partially completed. Conversely, have you ever been given the opposite advice where someone tells you not to finish what you start and you’ll be even more successful? Of course you haven’t.

Imagine going to a restaurant and ordering the brie-and-prosciutto-stuffed chicken breast and having the server bring it to your table half-cooked, a huge smile on his face, with all the raw juices running all over your plate, telling you to “enjoy!”

Or, how about the lawn company you pay a cagillion dollars to every week to mow your lawn showing up, mowing two-thirds of your lawn then knocking on your door looking for payment and telling you to marvel at how beautiful the lawn looks.

Better yet, what about the trusted car repair shop that changes your oil and puts new tires on your car, but purposely doesn’t put your oil filter back in (that has actually happened to me – NOT GOOD) or your lug nuts back on your wheels, then pridefully walks up to collect your payment saying, “It’s all done and ready to go. Have a great day!”

You get the point. In most instances, partially completing the job is not acceptable and sometimes can be downright dangerous.

In our industry, though, the advice of not finishing what you start and embracing partial completion can pay off — big time. As you work to maximize the value of your customer contact strategy, aiming not only to drive cost out of your business but also to increase customer satisfaction, you should strive to find that perfect balance between automation (self-service, regardless of channel) and live agent. This is where one of the least used key performance metric in our business pays off and should be at the forefront of any solid business case/ROI model.

By design, you want to focus on partially completed transactions to maximize your business value. Look at the transactions that are taking place in your contact centers and dissect those transactions to determine what specific tasks the agents are doing within that transaction. You then can determine which of those tasks can effectively be automated (regardless of channel – voice, mobile, Web, etc.). Once you’ve identified certain tasks to be automated, you have introduced the idea of partial automation into your business case, which is measured using the industry standard term — task completion — for obvious reasons.

When looking to justify the deployment of a self-service solution, many companies focus their business cases on the most common metric, call containment. This is because it’s easier to measure the value of a complete transaction (i.e., phone call) within the contact center and what that transaction is worth to the business based on the cost of that transaction if it is fully automated versus fully handled by a live agent. Where this approach falls short is when most transactions that your business handles are complex, or, for some other reason, cannot be fully automated — which is a large percentage of customer care out there.

Case in Point
Assume a typical agent transaction for a particular call type takes 20 steps For example:

  1. Identify caller
  2. Verify and authenticate caller
  3. Determine caller intent, etc.

With an agent, this might take an average handle time of four minutes. Then, let’s say you determine that 10 of those 20 steps could be automated leveraging a well-designed, intelligent and intuitive self-service solution (again, regardless of channel), effectively reducing your agent tasks down to 10, cutting your average handle time in half. If 75 percent of your transactions need to be worked by a customer service representative at some point, then you easily can see how the math works and how the value or dollars saved can exponentially increase.

So, when looking at the value of a well-thought-out, well-designed, implemented and managed automated self-service solution, just remember that I may be the first person to give you this crazy advice: Don’t finish what you start within the automated environment. Hand it off to the right agent at the right point in the interaction can and will pay off — BIG TIME!

West Corporation