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How To Boost Agent Productivity & Contact Centre Efficiency

How To Boost Agent Productivity & Contact Centre Efficiency

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Title: How To Boost Agent Productivity & Contact Centre Efficiency
View Webinar Replay
Hosted by: Call Centre Helper
Presented by: Martin Jukes of Mpathy Plus and Graeme Gilovitz of Jacada

Boosting productivity is not a question of just working harder, it’s all about working smarter. In this webinar we looked at ways that you can boost agent productivity and contact centre efficiency


Key Discussion Points:

  • Boosting agent productivity
  • Understanding why your Customers are Contacting you
  • First Contact Resolution
  • Reducing avoidable contact and failure demand
  • Streamlining the agent desktop
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • Reducing Transferred Calls
  • Fixing Broken Processes
  • Clever use of Technology
  • Top Tips from the Audience
  • Winning tip – “We try to focus on the customer experience vs AHT to move towards FCR. The calls may be longer but this reduces call backs from our customers” thanks to Jayne5
Accordion Content

Jonty Pearce: To formally welcome everyone to the webinar, this week we’re going to be looking at how to boost agent productivity and contact center efficiency. Fascinating top there and there are many ways of measuring that and we’ll be looking at that in a short while. So, delighted to introduce back to you Martin Jukes for it’s been about 18 months since you’ve been on our webinar programs. We’re delighted to be able to slot you back in. Welcome back. [00:00:30] And you’re going to be looking at productivity and efficiency in a different way from the classic work hard approach.

Martin Jukes: I hope so. I hope I’m able to bring something new. Although some of it may just be reinforcing things that people forget because working in contact centers is a very busy life as you know.

Jonty Pearce: Indeed, and welcome to Graeme Gilovitz for Jacada. This is your first webinar with us and we’ve networked with Jacada over the years. So, welcome. You’ll be looking [00:01:00] at the role technology plays in the [crosstalk 00:01:02]

Graeme Gilovitz: Absolutely. There’s one thing that you can do more in the one-to-one on the personal side working with your agents, but it really needs to be coupled with technology to really drive home those better efficiencies. As you said earlier, it doesn’t matter what your MPS or your [inaudible 00:01:20] scores are, there’s always more than you can obtain. Especially when the war really now is on the customer service side. So we’re trying out a few of the touch technologies [00:01:30] people should be looking at evaluating in the next few months.

Jonty Pearce: Excellent. Well, if you want to watch a replay and I know a number of you do like to share these with your Management Team, particularly on product 15 efficiency and how to look at that could be quite valuable. That’s going to be available later on this afternoon We’re going to be carrying on the discussion this week in our chat room and just put in your first [00:02:00] name, last name and email and quite useful if you put the windows up side by side perhaps the chat room on one side, the webinar screen on the other and just another advantage for being in the chat room is you can download the webinar slides. Just follow this link here and you can download Martin and Graeme’s slides.

Another advantage to being in the chatroom. As ever, if you want to ask a question use # Question and we’ll put those to our panel of experts. [00:02:30] You can also ask the question of the rest of the audience and the audience quite happy to for us to promote you answer each other’s questions. And # Tip for a tip and you can either a bottle of champagne or a box of chocolates is the bottle of champagne. We can’t keep the chocolates in the office very long so we have to ship those straight at from Godiva.

Or if it’s difficult to ship then we sometimes send out an Amazon gift card, so [00:03:00] really your choice depending on the channel. And we’re asking the question in the chat room, “Is Customer Satisfaction getting better or worse in your organization? If you have an answer that just in few words is it getting better or worse in your organization. Just while you’re typing that in I’m going to start off a poll, and that is, How do you measure efficiency in your organization? This is select all that apply. Is it average handling time you use? [00:03:30] Is it handled on first touch or resolution rates? Is it cost per transaction? What used to be called first contact resolution. Is it cost per transaction? Is it looking at things like occupancy or utilization? Or is it looking at things like total sales volume? And if you got another measure of efficiency that is not on this least, if you’d perhaps like to put that into the chat room and we’ll have a look at some of those in a short while.

Let’s have a look at the results we’ve got coming in and I’m just gonna close the poll. [00:04:00] Here we have a sample size of 67 and looks like the most popular one here is average handling time as a measure of efficiency, followed by occupancy, followed by the handle on first touch at 39%. 31% say it’s total slots, sales volume and only 22% cost per transaction. Surprising number her saying average handling time. [00:04:30] Martin, have you seen any difference in that over the years, do you think?

Martin Jukes: I think that’s a number of organizations try and reduce average handling time, and I think it very much depends on the service or what you’re trying to achieve as an organization. Because I do see in some situations average handling time being cut at the detriment of the contact to the outcome of that contact. It’s just something to be aware of really. Shorter average handling time doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more [00:05:00] efficient.

Jonty Pearce: No, indeed. And I think that’s some of the things that Martin, you’re going to be talking through in your presentation. Let’s just have a quick look at is customer service satisfaction getting better or worse in your organization? Jane says, oh that’s the question. Let’s have a look through, “There are a lot of changes and the culture is very diversified and a lot of challenges that culture is very diversified.” [00:05:30] Liz said, “We were just able to start to measure customer satisfaction last year. We’ve been concentrating heavily on increasing our scores in the email channel specifically.” Cause I know customer satisfaction does vary by channel. So, Martin, any thoughts on customer satisfaction over email?

Martin Jukes: I think that email is a channel that’s probably evolved without a great deal of consideration. I see lots of people [00:06:00] having training for their team on how to handle a telephone call, but I don’t necessarily see the same level of training as regards to emails. You could make an assumption there that’s customer satisfaction may not be as high with emails.

Jonty Pearce: Okay, well that’s a very good time to hand across to you Martin and you can take us through your whole thoughts on the hallway to approach efficiency, productivity and how you keep customer satisfaction up while you’re doing that. So [inaudible 00:06:29] we’ll [00:06:30] pass across to you and if you’d like to take us through slides up and take us through your presentation.

Martin Jukes: Yes, thank you Jonty. Hopefully that should be streaming up, coming up in a second.

Jonty Pearce: We can see your screen, but it’s not full screen yet.

Martin Jukes: Okay, there we go. There we go.

Jonty Pearce: Excellent.

Martin Jukes: Right, so, yes. Good afternoon, everybody, I’m [00:07:00] sorry about that. I hope that’s not going to keep happening. Yes, my name is Martin Jukes and I’m here to talk to you this afternoon about boosting agent productivity and contact center efficiency. And I thought what I’d start with would be having a look at what is agent productivity? Because I think people get very confused about productivity and utilization. So, I’ve put a little bit of my definition of what they are, so starting with productivity. I believe this is the output from an agent while they’re working. What they actually produce in the time they’re [00:07:30] working. This is very much within their control and as regards to how productive they are. The time when they’re engaged in transactions. As we go towards utilization, I think that’s more of management’s responsibility, to make sure that staff is utilized effectively. And I see utilization as being the amount of time that an agent is productive during their working day.

It’s quite different, it’s a couple of quite significant differences there. I think the theme of what I’m going to talk about today is actually around [00:08:00] making sure you’ve got the right people with the right skills and the right attitude in the right place at the right time. So, that comes across very much around looking at productivity and utilization. When I first started thinking about, when Jonty first asked me to start thinking about today, I thought well, agent productivity. Let’s just go back and see what to motivate agents, which has a significant impact on their productivity. [00:08:30] First of all, I had a look and we sort of been doing working in contact centers for over 20 years now. We’ve got a real theme of what people are saying. What advisors are saying?

And the number one complaint that advisors have is, they get frustrated at their inability to deal with customers’ inquiries. It may well be they haven’t got the tools for the job or they haven’t got the information or the services correct, but they get very frustrated with their inability to deal with those inquiries. [00:09:00] The second one is having inefficient processes. This may well be the overall business process or it may well be something about the process for them getting information. But certainly, this holds significant impact and again, another cause of major frustration. The third one is poorly performing systems. I’m going to talk about systems in a little detail, but Graeme’s going to talk in more detail later on about that.

From my perspective some of the impacts of systems [00:09:30] poor performance would be manifested in things like poor response times from systems and being very slow, being unreliable, or crashing. And then it moves on to them not having the information or integration or the connectivity that they need to able to be effective. The fourth one is not being listened to. I believe that advisors are really important in terms of service improvement because they have enormous experience of what’s going on and how it impacts them. [00:10:00] I think it’s really important to be able to listen to them and advisors have told me frequently that they say they are not being listened to and they raise issues and they’re just really ignored and not taken into account.

And finally, the lack of feedback. Advisors are people and agents are people that come to work, they want to try and do a good job. It’s important to know if they’re doing a good job or not. And for some people that may well be giving them good feedback for the people. It may well be giving them some poor feedback, [00:10:30] but it’s how to make sure they understand where they are and what’s expected of them. In terms of looking at how to increase productivity, I think there are three main areas that can be taken into account. I think it’s enabling the agents, supporting the agents, and then managing the agents. So three separate areas that I’ve broken down to look at a little more detail. If I first of all look at enabling the agents, it’s about making sure [00:11:00] that they’ve got the right tools to be able to do the job. And tools mean different things to different people. I’ve given you some ideas here.

So we’re talking about training. So we have to have the right training, first of all, to be able to understand the process. Do they understand the products or the services they’re dealing with? Do they understand the technology they’re using, and then do they have the right training in terms of the customer service skills they need to be able to do that job? Do they have the knowledge? Is the knowledge available for them to be able to do [00:11:30] their job effectively? We may pick up some knowledge in training, but a lot of the knowledge that I talk to is system-based information that they may need to have access to, to be able to deal with inquiry. If I haven’t got that, it’s a real disabler. Are the processes effective? Again, do the processes really support the front line staff in dealing with those inquiries or are they there for the benefit of the organization? The organization’s processes.

And finally, the systems. Are the systems [00:12:00] suitable and adequate? Are they giving the information? Are they performing at the right level, the right speed? And are they effective again in enabling the advisor to do their job? The secondary is supporting the agent. A number of areas with support. First of all induction. And just by coincidence, I did see an article yesterday, I think I may have posted on social media, around how Disney really felt that they were getting a benefit of giving [00:12:30] people, their new starters, a really thorough induction. When I read the article, it really brought some truth to me because it talked about how the first part of the induction was very much focused on the brand and what it is that they were trying to deliver as Disney. And I think many organizations don’t necessarily provide that support to agents. So they’re working in a vacuum, where they’re trying to do a job, they don’t understand the bigger picture.

One to ones. I think one to ones are the most important things that team leaders can do to support their [00:13:00] agents. Really, I can’t emphasize enough how much I believe that makes a real difference both to the overall performance but also the individual perception of their work. I think the one to ones should really be [inaudible 00:13:14] two-way feedback. So, it’s not just about giving feedback to the agents about their performance. It’s understanding where they’re struggling, why they’re struggling and what their recommendations are in how they would like to change things in the future? And this starts to involve them in improving the processes [00:13:30] and continual improvements to programs. I think that there are two people that really have a big impact in giving that feedback as to how the process is, and that’s the customer and then the front line agent. So we do see quite a lot of organizations involve customers. Spend a lot of time and effort talking to customers but they don’t talk to their own people to understand what’s happening at the front line.

And finally, the encouragement. I think it’s really important to be able to encourage agents [00:14:00] and advisors in terms of motivating them, rewarding them for good behavior, good performance, and generally making it an environment that’s encouraging for them to do a good job. The third element that I want to focus on is management. And the first, again, this breaks down into three different areas. The first is measuring. Measuring performance, measuring productivity. This may well be looking at the examples of the poll today, that [00:14:30] which people use most effectively to measure efficiency. I just did a couple there. But I think it’s also important to measure the quality of services as well as the quantity.

Measuring the quantity isolation doesn’t necessarily give you good productivity or good efficiency. Because without the right outcome or the right output, it may be really inefficient or unproductive. Finally, measuring is really helpful in terms of identifying trends. If we’re looking at an individual agent, [00:15:00] are they having a bad day? Is it a slow week? Are they struggling with something, or is part of a much bigger problem where they need some extra support or training or whatever? The secondary, sharing. Most people measure, some people share. So it’s about communicating performance both at an individual level to individual agents, but also at a team level. So that the whole team can see where their performance is. And they feel part [00:15:30] of that team and responsible for that service. Start to own in the performance. So where I said, some people will measure, some people will share.

The third area is where the majority of people that I come across really struggle, which is in acting. They don’t know how to intervene and manage when they see poor performance, and I think it’s really important for agents to have that intervention. So they know at an early stage where they’re performing poorly. It’s about using the data. So there’s a lot of data available [00:16:00] but it needs to be used and used as evidence. And be able to inform and present this situation to the agent. And then developing improvement plans. What do we need to do to relieve this pressure? What do we need to do to improve your performance? Moving on to improving contact center efficiency. What does efficiency mean to you? That’s the first question I’d normally ask. And how do you measure it? Again, we’ve talked about a few different areas of measure that could be used. [00:16:30] All very relevant, all fit, so we’ve got some there in terms of utilization for it to contact resolution, etc. All are valid, but what I would remind people about is that targets drive behaviors. It’s making sure you understand what’ important for your organization.

I would use an example of doing a comparison between a sales organization, a sales contact center, and a customer service center. Where sales, the important things may well be the amount [00:17:00] of revenue or income that you can generate. Where customer service may well be resolving issues to customer satisfaction. I think it’s important to be able to determine the measures and understand the concepts that they’re being applied in. Going back to those we looked at on the previous slide. Looking at those, are they appropriate to you? And if they are, what do they need to balance against? In terms of how to improve efficiency, I think there’s a number of management information tools available. Some are a lot easier to use than others, [00:17:30] but most contact centers now have a basic level of information. Real-time management is really important. It’s about being aware of what’s happening now. I think for many people that I come across, they have a look and they look at 9:00 in the morning and yes based performance. And it’s just too late then. They can’t change it.

If you’re looking at management information in real-time, you can see what’s happening at 2:00 and you can perhaps fix it by quarter past 2:00. Adherence to schedules, and I’m talking about the little [00:18:00] things that make a difference. I would refer to something called the peril of one. Which I think Jonty has told me was on a very early webinar. It’s about making sure that people log on when they’re supposed to log on. Log off when they’re supposed to log off and operate the shift plan that is put in place. People spend a lot of time managing shift patterns, making sure they’re there … Got the right people in the right place. But then they don’t necessarily manage people in terms of making sure they [00:18:30] adhere to those schedules. One of the things that we do when we go to look at a poorly performing contact center, one of the first things we do is sit down and look at real-time information and see which people are adhering to a schedule, which ones aren’t.

Which people are performing well. Which ones aren’t. And exactly getting a good feel of what’s going on. And normally we’re able to make huge differences from doing that.

Jonty Pearce: What we’ll do Graeme is we’ll put a link to the Power of One webinar in the chat room and we’ll put it on the [00:19:00] post-webinar page as well.

Martin Jukes: Okay, thanks Jonty. I believe it’s about efficiency is about active management which is both being proactive and reactive. So looking forwards but also looking at the now and combining the two. Finally, the most important point and I will repeat this on numerous occasions, but understanding the detail. Looking at the data to getting to understand it. For some people looking at the data initially for the first time can be quite confusing. [00:19:30] It’s about getting to understand what it really means and what it’s really saying to you. And I would add a word of warning there. It doesn’t always say, it’s not always saying what it appears on the first viewing. It’s about looking at the detail and understanding them.

I think the major thrust of what I was saying in terms of efficiency is aligning the resources to the demands, to the customer demands. When a customer contacts you and what time, what day, and how many resources [00:20:00] do you need to be able to manage that? I’ve just given it a sample chart of a typical call management profile we tend to use the term call demand because that’s where it originated from but the demand still exists and you have a similar profile for a chat or for email. Although with email it may be less demanding in terms of the response times for it. But it’s about looking at the detail and making sure you understand it and tracking it as it changes. For some clients, we go [00:20:30] in and do this on an annual basis and every time it’s changed a little bit. When I talk to clients about why it’s changed, they’re really not aware of it, which is a little disappointing. But I would like to sort of see companies, our clients looking at a little more detail at what the changes are and why they’re changing.

It’s about analyzing historical information and identifying trends. It has to be about how to predict and forecast future trends. So what’s happened in the past, are we a seasonal organization? Do we have season [00:21:00] shifts? And what’s going to happen in the future? And then being able to predict what the demand will be and then able to improve the efficiency. Making sure you’re matched. Once again, it’s all about understanding the detail. I then start thinking about multiple channels. And how organizations know. The majority of organizations are for service or sales across multiple channels. I’ve just listed four there as an initial example. [00:21:30] The point I want to try and make is that it’s obviously going to be more efficient to train staff. Not all staff, but some staff in multiple channels and then be able to blend them across those channels. It may well be that at [inaudible 00:21:43] to the telephone, people can be picking up email work. It may well be that chats increase at a different time to telephone calls.

Being able to blend the different interactions across the different channels is definitely going to be more efficient. I think, again, looking at the [00:22:00] individual agents, a productive agent really does have an impact on efficiency. It really does support efficiency. I talked a little bit about processes. I think it’s important to look at processes in detail because inefficient processes are a real high cost to the business. And frustrating for both front line staff and customers. I would recommend having a look at the most infrequent inquiry types and mapping them out. And then taking a look and saying [00:22:30] with a real critical eye, are they efficient? Could they be automated? Is this a self-service opportunity? Is there a better way? Do we need to do it like this, and if so why do we need to do it like this? Doing that analysis really does start to sharpen the focus and reducing process time can make a big difference with regards to efficiency.

But I also think that as well as the time scales, we need to focus on quality. Poor quality is also really inefficient. [00:23:00] I just want to focus a little bit on the customer experience because I’m just showing a picture there of an academic journal that was compiled a number of years ago but is still very relevant in today’s age. Talked about customer experience and the links with profitability. What profitability really comes about through efficiency. And this academic journal, the university in England some years ago, talked about how there was a definite line between improving the customer experience and improving [00:23:30] profitability as an efficiency. And the reason it does that is that empathic transactions are more efficient because they increase the trust between the customer and the organization. By built relationship they help to get to the issues faster, so a customer that trusts you will tell you more. It increases the first-time resolution and increases loyalty. Customers will come back and they’ll come back and they’ll come back, which is what you particularly want in a sales environment and in customer service [00:24:00] environments.

So I hope that gives you a little bit of something to think about. There’s obviously lots more information that we could’ve talked about so trying to keep it quiet brief. In summary, I would say let’s focus on the detail, understand the detail and understand whether we’re efficient and if now, why we’re inefficient? Use the data. Lots of data available. It may not be perfect but it’s a good starting point. Ask for the right starting point. Start with the facts. [00:24:30] Enable support and manage your agents, and really help them to be more productive. Think carefully about targets, because they can impact negatively on efficiency. So, if I talked about average handling time again, try to reduce that can actually have a negative consequence. Productivity is about the outcomes and output, so it’s not just about how much we can do, it’s about what the output and outcomes of those interactions [00:25:00] are.

Having poor outcomes, poor outputs is just inefficient. And finally, don’t forget the quality. Their quality is what really makes the difference to customers.

Jonty Pearce: Well, thank you very much indeed for that Martin. I think some great food for thought in there. Certainly a few points I think are very valid. Agents get very frustrated if they can’t answer a customer inquiry, so we need to look at what may be holding that back. I think there’s [00:25:30] some very good points about making feedback into a two-way process. We involve front line advisors in problem-solving and I think a very good point there about good empathy does increase efficiency. Some great things there. We’re going to jump down onto a poll, and one of the points that Martin looked at. I just want to ask the question of the audience, is a shorter interaction more efficient? [00:26:00] Is a shorter phone call more efficient than the long call? Just have to put your answers in there, so the answers very simple. Yes, no or maybe. Just have a look in here. Be quite interesting to see the results and particularly in view, I think 73% of people are looking at average handling time as a measure of efficiency. So we’ll just share the results here.

[00:26:30] And I think this, not prefaced by the number of maybe’s, but I think … I’m quite surprised that 25% have said no, and only 9% have said yes. Graeme, this almost points to a measure like average handling time is being the wrong one to look at.

Graeme Gilovitz: I have to agree with that. And it’s something that was been a bit of a misnomer in my opinion, is that everyone’s-

Speaker 4: [crosstalk 00:26:54] at the moment. Martin what are your thoughts on [00:27:00] the interaction?

Martin Jukes: Yeah, I think I’m a little surprised at the number of maybe’s, but that’s probably because that’s the right answer. Yes, I think it’s about the outcomes and the outputs.

Jonty Pearce: Hey Graeme, I think you were talking.

Speaker 4: Right, unfortunately Graeme, I don’t seem to not be able to hear-

Graeme Gilovitz: Can you hear me now?

Jonty Pearce: I can certainly hear you Graeme. I [crosstalk 00:27:21]

Speaker 4: Hopefully we’ll be able to sort it in a minute.

Jonty Pearce: Okay, I think we’re all back online now, so Graeme [00:27:30] you were just talking.

Graeme Gilovitz: I was just saying, it’s a bit of misnomer because whenever I was talking about using self-service channels everyone thought that average handling time should go down, and I think this is actually the counter-intuitive understanding is that if you’re using self-service channels and people are able to actually complete a self-service session, those people that do need to actually connect to an agent should have a high complexity of inquiry problem, or that needs solving. [00:28:00] Therefore, you would actually see that AHT in those calls would actually go up. But the quality of those calls would probably be of a high nature. And that’s why I think that the AHT versus whether or not they should be coming through and if that’s the metric is actually a little bit skewed.

Jonty Pearce: Indeed. So we’re going to look at some top tips and questions from the audience for a lot of interaction happening in the chat room. We’ll have a look at the [00:28:30] first tip on a similar topic from Paul says, “Focusing on only lowering average handling time pressures agents to not worry about the quality of the contact but the length of the contact. Instead you should be focusing on individual training.” And in a very similar vein, Jayne says, “We try to focus on the customer experience vs average handling time to move towards first contact resolutions. The calls may be longer but this reduces callbacks from our customers.” I guess Martin [00:29:00] that ties in very much with your point there.

Martin Jukes: Yes, definitely.

Jonty Pearce: We’ve got a question in from Agnieszka which is, “What is the best way to measure first contact resolution rates?” Martin, I’ve heard a lot of talk regarding first contact resolution, I think often it’s not so much the first contact resolution is necessary the challenge, it’s actually reducing repeat contacts. [00:29:30] Do you think repeat contacts is the best way to do it?

Martin Jukes: I think it is a way of doing. I think every organization is slightly different in terms of how’d we recommend measuring it. And it depends on what systems they’ve got. How they use their systems. But I certainly think repeat callers are a good way of measuring efficiency.

Jonty Pearce: Okay, and Lisa has actually answered this question in the chat room. “We measure first contact resolution with post-interaction surveys that are emailed to customers.” [00:30:00] Graeme I don’t know if you have any thoughts on this. The issue is that we have risen via email, is that they’re getting our survey but our answers are going to junk. That sounds like there may be a setting on the server that’s not quite right in terms of-

Graeme Gilovitz: What I find interesting Jonty, is that people have written first call resolution and you’re talking about first contact resolution. I think there’s a bit of difference there because it starts … Today there are so many channels available, I have someone start on a chat or [00:30:30] self serve and then be forced to move to call. That’s not really a first contact resolution. It might be a first call resolution but the customer is actually working their interaction down and may have each of those channels may have an impact. That’s where we’ve really got to be careful is looking at those interactions by channel, not necessarily as a first call.

Jonty Pearce: We’ve had a tip from Rose. It says, “We have a think tank. It’s a platform for our employees to feedback or provides ideas on how to improve processes [00:31:00] and an employee forum for day-to-day ideas on how can improve their working life.” Who better to tell us to improve efficiency and productivity than the agents yourselves. I think Martin you’ve made a point about making feedback a two-way process. Your thoughts on that?

Martin Jukes: Yes, definitely. I think that’s really good to hear from Rose, there. I think that’s something that we certainly support and again where we go to polling when forming the organization. One of the things we need always introduce is [00:31:30] some sort of forum to be able to get that input from front line advisors. They know how it is.

Jonty Pearce: I think it’s also having the problems to get the advisors involved in the solution. Because that’s actually, in a lot of think tank, suggestion boxes it’s pretty easy to put up what the problems are. But actually getting ownership in taking those around the organization to get solved can be a lot harder. Here’s a question from Jayne. She says, “Across the globe how do you train the customer service [00:32:00] representative for somebody that doesn’t have a strong background in customer service?” I guess this varies from location to location. Don’t know if anyone has any thoughts on that?

Martin Jukes: That’s certainly from my perspective something about an attitude and not everybody is right to be in a customer service environment. I certainly that first of all it’s making sure you’ve got the right people that they’re going to be able to deliver that service that’s [00:32:30] it’s worth investing in the training for. Then making sure that they’re capable of doing it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve worked in this environment before to delivering customer service, it’s really about their general attitude to life and their competencies. And making sure they would be able to do the role in the future.

Jonty Pearce: Interesting. So let’s have a look at tips. I’m sorry, Graeme.

Graeme Gilovitz: I was just going to say you [00:33:00] also need to be aware of who your end customer is from a geographical point of view. Because where you may be hiring may be quite different than the end customer and they need to understand that you need to pair that relationship and those cultural identities together so that they work. I know in Germany, they’re very different from the UK and they very much rely on information and the way that they interact is a lot more formal. If it’s even possible to be more formal than the UK. But, it is. [00:33:30] So you need to make sure you have the right agents paired with the culture of the customers.

Jonty Pearce: With that comes tip from Laura. It says, “Focusing on each team member with one to one catch up to make sure they’re all clear on processes.” Let me feedback one to one was an item Martin discussed. Okay, here’s a tip from Luis, he says, “Keep your survey response high by regularly refreshing your questions and keeping the short.” [00:34:00] And there as another comment on this that Christopher said, “Strange but true. This morning I was contacted by a market research company for market feedback on my experience with an insurance company. After answering the questions, the last question was, If I close my eyes how would the company compare to my vision of the perfect insurance company. I told them the question could not be answered so the agent canceled the interview. This then is logged as a fault, as a fail, when in fact the agent was highly efficient. Because of the rigidity of [00:34:30] the survey, it reflects as failed and therefore not efficient. So agents are often efficient, the process isn’t.” Martin, the process was one of the key ones you discussed.

Martin Jukes: Yes, I think that’s a really good example there from Christopher. I think it’s about understanding exactly what’s happening and making sure that [00:35:00] when we’re measuring performance that we’re taking all our specs into account. Some agents may have fear to be inefficient or unproductive when actually it’s processes. All their knowledge of the process is that’s really the issue.

Jonty Pearce: Okay, we’ve got a question from Marcus about how we grade call quality. Marcus says, “What’s the best method to use while grading call quality. What techniques should be used to identify trends with regards to the overall customer [00:35:30] service in a call center.” Certainly, I see a lot of different systems around in terms of call quality. Grading ranging from anything from a percentage score, a pass/fail, a traffic light score. What are your thoughts on that?

Graeme Gilovitz: Look, there’s multiple independence to sales call, inbound/outbound or service, but I think that some companies use colors like, [00:36:00] hot, cold, red, green or orange. I was using a grading like that or a percentage. I think it really depends on what environment you’re in and what actually is easily identifiable to the agent as to what actions need to be taken. At one point giving a score to something that doesn’t actually translate into an action. Because, you can have these milestones but if it’s not clear to the agents what needs to be done afterward or during the time of that call, then it’s just a waste of time.

Jonty Pearce: [00:36:30] And Martin, the percentage of calls are quite difficult unless you’ve got very good calibration because different boxes apply to different call types.

Martin Jukes: So too, I think the important thing is around looking at what it is you really want to measure. What is the ideal call? What are the composite parts to the ideal call? Or contacts, so again, we need to [inaudible 00:36:53] the channels as well. And making sure those individual characteristics … So for example, the call out meaning the call closure. [00:37:00] They’re all included in that analysis of that, that transaction to be able to score them effectively.

Jonty Pearce: Excellent. Well before we move on to Graeme’s presentation, Graeme’s going to be looking into the technology, but we’re going to ask the question. What technologies are you looking at to deploy, to increase productivity? So it’s just like you to vote those options. So you’re looking to deploy live chat? Are you looking to deploy chatbox, or intelligent [00:37:30] assistance? You’re looking to put in agent assistance software? [inaudible 00:37:36] knowledge base. Are you looking at call diversion software? What types of things are you looking to put in your contact center to increase productivity? Select to vote on that now. We’ll have a look at the answers coming up. Any thoughts Graeme, on what you think will to come up?

Graeme Gilovitz: I would have thought [00:38:00] at the moment a lot of people are looking at chatbox or intelligence assistance just because there’s so much hype around it and but on the other hand we hand know that it hasn’t been successful. You wouldn’t see a lot in my opinion on a lot of capital expenditure sort of things like desktops. Front agent desktops but maybe even in the agent guidance would be something that would be quite large a percentage.

Jonty Pearce: Well, let’s have a look at the answers. It looks like 55% of people have said knowledge base, which is [00:38:30] certainly a key one that you’ve probably got right before you can look at things like a chatbox. 43% on looking to deploy live chat, followed by agent assistance software at 40%. So it looks like helping agents is certainly a key one. 28% chatbox and 21% call diversion software. Graeme, it’s probably a good time now to hand the baton across here. If you’d like to take us through [00:39:00] your ideas of ways that technology can help to make the call center more productive in that.

Graeme Gilovitz: Wonderful. Thank you. Are you able to see my screen? All good?

Jonty Pearce: We can indeed.

Graeme Gilovitz: Wonderful. Well then, thank you very much. What I’m going to be talking about today is really following on from what Martin had spoken about earlier and there are actually several points that he raised during his presentation that you’ll see continuing as a theme in what we’re going to talk about today? Before we really get into the crucks of it, I really just want to say that now [00:39:30] is probably the best time that contact centers have ever been in, in terms of position to really maximize the usage of technology.

Simply because there’s so many out there and the cost has been so prohibitive in the past, that is no longer the situation. So there is really is no reason why a contact center shouldn’t be even testing some of this software and really having a go rather than saying, this is too expensive and I’ll wait until it becomes cheaper. The time is actually now, okay. [00:40:00] Look there is a range of ways that companies are trying to increase efficiencies and there is the assisted side, which is really working with the agent and the secondary side which is talking about self-service.

We’re not going to focus on the self-service but obviously it has a direct impact on the agents. Very simply, if you look at the statistics, I think there’s about [inaudible 00:40:23] said, something like 60% of customers, all customers end up in your contact center despite the fact that you actually [00:40:30] have self-service tools. The more that you can actually provide tools to help your agents, the better way that they will be to actually answer these questions. What’s really imperative today is because of the amount of software out there if you want to get greater efficiencies past the first deployment then you want to really look at how you can automate the deployment from one particular software solution into your back end. If you have to keep doing it every time you deploy [00:41:00] a solution, you’re not really going to get that economies of scale, okay.

Something came up that I thought was very interesting, I think it was one of yours… I think it was Chris, mentioned it in one of the tips and also Martin is that agents are still far too reliant on processes rather than the customer interaction. So what companies need to be really doing is focusing on how they can empower the agent to really focus on the customer by removing those obstacles such as increasing automation [00:41:30] of mundane and repetitive tasks. To me, before I got into this industry, I remembered thinking when I was talking to a [inaudible 00:41:39] in Australia. The problem I had that the gentleman said to me, the CFO said to me, “Sir, do you mind if I put you on hold a minute while I speak to the manager?” And naively I thought that was what he was doing when in reality that person was actually toggling between screens trying to navigate through many applications and understand what my situation was and what the person could [00:42:00] actually do.

Now, unfortunately, this is still the reality in a lot of contact centers today and as Martin pointed out, the less empathetic the transaction, the relationship. The greater the chance the customer will probably walk away, okay. The benefits are very clear about why you should be boosting agent productivity in contact center efficiencies. It does not matter who I’ve spoken to in the past, but all the executives have said, they can’t sugar coat it. The reality is that the key [00:42:30] objective is to reduce operational costs while improving customer experience. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Now, that’s a really big thing to achieve but yet there are many levers that one can actually pull to try and obtain that. If you go back to that other slide, there are multiple solutions out there in the marketplace. And some of these key metrics might be reducing AHT as people have said. It could be giving a consolidated view of the customer. Increasing automation and also things like streamlining agent training [00:43:00] to help minimize attrition.

We won’t go too much into self-service because maybe that’s for another discussion. One of the solutions that’s available and has been around for many years, but again isn’t being utilized enough is the idea of a unified agent desktop. Too many of the contact centers see this environment which means that an agent has to sign in to multiple applications, they need to learn how to use them and they also know which process. So in this particular situation, I have to get out 1, a number [00:43:30] 3, number 4, number 2 in order to complete something. When if you had a single layer like this, a unified agent desktop, you can see everything on one particular screen. And in today’s market I guess, you can get these very much customizable to the point where it’s not just customizable by a company but also by the agent.

So as Martin was explaining earlier you might train an agent in one area such as the phone but then another one in live chat. They don’t need to have access [00:44:00] to all of these channels on their view. If you couple that with something like agent desktop automation that also helps to relieve the agent of having to do those mundane and repetitive tasks and take them away from focusing on the customer. And this should be done in the background and if you have to explain this very simply it’s taking out the clicks and the mouse movement in the background so they can actually focus on the interaction. And that has very simple consequences from a business increase in [00:44:30] the speed of the service reducing AHT, reducing the after call work if it’s automation. Also in increases the accuracy instead of having to copy and paste between different screens or mainly running it in multiple screens. You’re going to reduce those errors.

And of course, all this results in improved customer experience. If you were to deploy these sorts of solutions this is probably the … What I would expect a company to sort of see as the results. This isn’t particularly one customer, [00:45:00] this is sort of the general thing that people should do looking at. So you should be seeing around a 50% decrease in your escalation of calls from first to second level support. You should see a 30% increase in your FCR. We’re not talking about a 30% FCR rate, which would be about at 30% increase. And about a 20% reduction in your AHT. Again it depends on the complexity of what you’re talking about. I really want to spend a moment to talk about these numbers of 30% reduction in agent training time.

[00:45:30] And again this comes back to something that Martin was speaking about earlier. Training and onboarding of new agents are complex but from a system, from a [inaudible 00:45:39] perspective, and then when you throw in there customer expectations of the agent, you can understand why turnover in the industry is relatively high. I think that when were talking recently, Jonty, you said it was the latest statistic that showed about 30% of agents turn over every year. Which has a very significant impact on the bottom line? If [00:46:00] you can give them the tools to speed up that training, their confidence to start dealing with customers, the sooner they can actually be adding to the bottom line.

And if you come back to that one slide that Martin had that showed about the blended agents, it talks about email, phone, social media and I think there’s one more.

Martin Jukes: Chat.

Graeme Gilovitz: More chat. Top, thank you for helping me out. That is all about workforce management and load. The more that you [00:46:30] can assist those agents, they spend more time in that blended area, the more efficiency you’re going to get out of your agents. And that brings us to one of the easiest and I think this correlates to one of the polling questions about agent guidance. Now agent guidance used to have a really bad stigma about it because the words that people used to talk about was agent scripting. And scripting was very static, it wasn’t real-time and it had a really bad notion of I’m just reading a sheet of paper. Whereas with technology [00:47:00] available it’s not like that at all. It’s all about now an interactive and intuitive guide so agents know what to say and when to say it, okay.

A good example of this would be McDonald’s is a good example of the scripted way, you’ve ordered a burger, “Would you like fries with that?. They know exactly what to say and it’s they say it to every single person. Whereas if you and Jonty were going online or talking to someone on the phone and said, “Listen, I want to buy that punching bag.” A bit out of frustration, they might [00:47:30] have statistics to show that 80% of people call in two weeks time and say “Oh, I actually need to buy some boxing gloves.” “So listen if you buy it now I can actually give you free delivery and a 20% discount. So that’s real-time information available to that customer at the right time. Should lead to an increase conversion of sales in some cases we’ve seen 2-3% or increase customer satisfaction because they know that you’re looking after their interest long term.

This third point, I think is really one of the most important [00:48:00] points and it came up also in what Martin was talking about. The whole aim of increasing efficiency should be at the hands of the contact center operational specialist. No longer should you be reliant on IT. Traditionally, you would take a ticket with IT, and they would come back and say to you, “Listen, we have to do an assessment, how long it’s going to take and we’ll come back with a cost.” To some extent that would dictate whether or not you would be able to make those changes [00:48:30] and by the time you actually get an answer for this real-time was months ago.

The whole point it that today’s technologies are all real-time based and if you can have it in a way that allows business owned and IT governed and you have drop and drag technology on those solutions, the more those people in the know, which are your agents and your operational specialists can drive those. Just to give you an idea I’m [inaudible 00:48:57] person you’ll ever meet. I explain to [00:49:00] people that I know that my car has six wheels in it. So, Jonty, maybe if someone could be the first to answer that we should give them some chocolates. If you’re a little more technical than I am then you’ll be able to pick up a lot of this software significantly faster.

The benefits speak for themselves. So one we won’t go too much into them, the fact that you’ll see X will go up, the lack of needing to repeat customer information which is a major frustration and improvements on FTR’s [00:49:30] and call back later. From a business perspective again, we talked about reducing agents’ training time. We’ve seen some companies either a UK telco that we work with, we’re seeing them drop their onboarding from five weeks to two and a half weeks. Now when you consider you might have hundreds of agents starting every year, the significance of that bottom-line impact is absolutely huge. One thing that resonates really well with people who work in very [00:50:00] sophisticated and highly regulated industries such as banking and finance and insurance, will find that they’re also very worried about disclaimers and the like.

So knowing that they’ve gone through the right process and kicked that off will also cover themselves in case of an issue later on. Lastly, and I think this is one of the things that hasn’t been spoken about enough when we talk about technologies. The industry is bot crazy and has been for some time. As I said earlier the reality is that bots [00:50:30] on customer-facing interaction have not met the customer experience levels at all. So people have been a little bit shy about it. What people haven’t been looking at is their little relative, which is the agent’s personal assistant and this is actually working side by side doing the processing, the automation, and processing in the background to allow the agents to actually come up with a live answer in real-time.

We liken it to a diesel helper [00:51:00] that are sitting side by side you. And it talked with things like immediacy of responses able to search through databases in the background to get answers that would otherwise take a long time. And in a way it’s like having a supervisor sitting next to you. Now, I think that the best way and a good way to really explain this further is Jonty, is actually introduce my friend Bob. If you wouldn’t mind making some introductions that would be great. [00:51:30] So, Jonty, I think that video really drives homes that idea of making automating the really mundane and repetitive tasks that allow the agent to really focus on the customer. The more that we can empower those customers, the agents rather to do that interaction and really focus on the empathy, the greater the service that we can provide and you’ll see the scores go up which ultimately leads to better lying bottom line [00:52:00] revenues.

Jonty Pearce: Excellent. Well, thank you very much for that Graeme. Some real food for thought there. Certainly some key advice. Look to improve the agent desktop, don’t get held back by IT, look at deploying technologies where the business can improve it yourself. And Graeme, your point about six wheels, certainly it got me stumped. Louis is come up with a theory which is that it’s four wheels, [00:52:30] plus a spare wheel, plus the steering wheel. I don’t know if that’s the answer you’re looking for.

Graeme Gilovitz: That’s five and the sixth one is, in your hand.

Jonty Pearce: Four wheels. Yes, steering wheel, a spare wheel and four wheels. I think Louis got that.

Graeme Gilovitz: That’s it.

Jonty Pearce: Well done, Louis. That certainly had me stumped. We’ve got time, and certainly if anyone wants a demonstration of Bob, the Agent Assistant software, if you’d like to leave that in the chat room when we leave the webinar. So let’s now look at some top tips and questions [00:53:00] from the audience. We’ve got a few questions that have come through. Jonathan has said, “With regards to multi-skilling agents to respond to multi-channels, should you implement or identify anything at recruitment or concentrate on in-house training?” Martin, I don’t know if you’ve got any thoughts on this.

Martin Jukes: I think I understand the question, Jonathan. I would always recommend having in-house training. And the reason being you want to be able to train [00:53:30] in your brand values and your standards. Although somebody may well be coming with certain skills, you want to be able to make sure those skills are appropriately applied to your organization and to present your brand.

Jonty Pearce: Next one, Graeme, I don’t know if you have any thoughts.

Graeme Gilovitz: I absolutely agree with that. I guess if you’ve got a leader or someone who has gone through it, they generally know the best tips on how to train someone because you can have a manual or an external person [00:54:00] talk to you about how to use that software but unless you again, it comes down to that front line experience, that’s the most valuable.

Jonty Pearce: And I guess the other thing is not all people are going to be suited for multi-channel. Some people are great at chatting, we certainly probably have more than our share of dyslexic people who’ve got into what they thought was a call center because they could chat to people as long as they could do some basic data entry that would be fine. Suddenly expecting them to know grammar and spelling and things such as that, may not [00:54:30] be suitable for them. And if we put them in that role we may find they leave and move on. I think it almost starts with volunteers before you do that. That’s how you enforce that. Let’s have a look at another question coming through.

This is one from Christina. Christina says, “What do you think should be the benchmark efficiency rate to use for talk time versus idle wait time percentage for an advisor?” Martin, I’ve got some thoughts [00:55:00] on this. Do you have any ideas?

Martin Jukes: Yes, again. I think it’s quite an individual thing. If you were to say talk time versus idle wait time, if you were to say somewhere between 65-75% percent then that would have been considered appropriate. But do think it depends very much on what the content of each inquiry is around and the complexity of it. I suppose the impact that it has [00:55:30] on the advisor. If it’s a very simple inquiry then perhaps you could increase those. But if it’s a more sensitive inquiry then maybe you need to reduce it.

Jonty Pearce: Certainly I think some of the things here are that the percentage rate is often governed by the amount of traffic you’ve got on the system and your service levels. If you want to keep service levels specifically if call volumes are low then that will be naturally low and that’s not a bad problem. One thing we see in a lot of people doing airline calculations [00:56:00] is they don’t factor in the maximum occupancy. Certainly, that really shouldn’t go above really much over 85% or less. It’s very transactional centered. Possibly 90%. If you try and push it higher than that what you actually find is that you’ll get an agent to burn out and you’ll get that occupancy and so the availability will be maximum occupancy will be reflected in longer [00:56:30] average handling times as people get more burnt out will take longer to handle. Unfortunately, that’s all the time we’ve got for today. If you’d like to fill in the survey when you leave the webinar today, it’s only four questions long.

And if you’d like a demonstration of Bob the Bot the agent assist software please fill that in the post-webinar survey. If you would like to get a copy of the slides, of course, Let’s have a look at [00:57:00] the winning tip today and that was the tip we mentioned earlier from Jayne that said “Try to focus on the customer experience versus average handling time to increase first contact resolution. The calls may be longer but the reduces customer callbacks.” So we’ll be more productive in the long run. We’re going to be back in three weeks’ time when we’re looking at our 200th webinar, “How to be world class at customer service.” I’d like to thank our two speakers. Thank you, Martin Jukes, for joining us today.

Martin Jukes: Thank you very [00:57:30] much Jonty. Very enjoyable.

Jonty Pearce: And thank you to Graeme Gilovitz for joining us as well. Thank you very much Graeme.

Graeme Gilovitz: No problems. I hope I get a call back like Martin did.

Jonty Pearce: Indeed. And thanks very much and enjoy your Easter break and we’ll see you back in three weeks time. Thank you, then. Bye bye.

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