Monday, May 23, 2005

Key usability issues (and solutions!) in customer service software

1. A very high percentage of outbound calls land up at an answering machine. Leaving standard messages on the answering machine is routine and takes a lot of user's time.

This task can be allocated to a computer -- an automated message delivery will drastically reduce the call time. In certain cases where the customer decides to pick up the call, the computer can seamlessly give the control to the Customer Service Agent (CSA).

2. Most calls are transferred to another CSA one reason or another. These calls are typically routed through a regular 1-800 number. Each transfer takes between 45 seconds and 2 minutes and this frustrates the customer. Some CSAs use this time for documentation by gaming the called system manipulating their placement in the queue. This helps CSAs to gain official work time. Customers also loose valuable time as the CSAs need to tell the called CSA about the manner in the customer was verified, the account number (or identity information) of the customer, and the reason for the transfer. The called CSA then starts with the routine "hello" that again frustrates the customer.

Find out customer queries that are regularly transferred and ensure that one CSA can answer all queries. This will enhance the customer experience and save expensive call costs. If the call must be transferred then ensure that:
a. The call bypasses IVR menu tree. This will ensure that the CSA doesn’t have to key in choices.
b. The customer verification information is passed transparently to the transferred CSA.
c. The transferred calls take precedence over the customers that are waiting now. This reduces CSAs idle time and reduces double queue waits for callers.

3. Organizations try to ensure that CSAs document everything that happened during the call. CSAs, on the other end don't want to be punished for not documenting. This ensures that whatever actions CSAs take using the system, they also document that. This documentation takes extra time, the CSA needs to remember what actions were taken (some are forgotten if the call was long).

Document only what was talked with the customer. Don't document the actions that were taken using the computer (the computer already knows about it!). The computer can automatically document this information for the next CSA to see. By doing all this considerable amount of effort and time will be saved.

4. Most customer service software is still Unix-based (remember Green Screens?). To navigate to a particular piece of information, the CSA must recall one of about eight hundred codes and key it in correctly. All this must be learned over three months.

Drastically reduce learning time by providing software application that does not require CSAs to remember unrelated codes. Provide software that does not need too much of navigation - for customer service applications 25 to 30 screen applications are enough. And, provide software that does not need much navigation as 80% work could be handled by the Main screen.

No comments: