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Posts from September 2011

A Peek Into Your Peers’ 2012 Plans

A few weeks ago we sent out our annual agenda poll for 2012 – and over 900 of you answered the call to help direct next year’s CCC research agenda (thank you!).  As we start to parse through all the data, a few interesting things struck me that I wanted to share with you.

One: Despite a current environment of economic uncertainty and continued financial austerity, customer service’s organizational focus has not swung to cost containment at the expense of the customer experience.

And, two: In 2008/9, many of your peers looked at ways to reduce cost per contact as their key driver of cost reduction.  In 2012, more service organizations will find ways to reduce contact volume altogether – mainly through expanding self-service channels.

Let’s expand on both of these findings a bit.

Putting the ‘Customer’ Back in Customer Service Week

Monday, October 3rd, kicks off Customer Service Week 2011, an occasion for service organizations to celebrate the work they do and the people who serve and support customers.

Last year, we shared a few creative ideas on how companies can show their appreciation for staff during Customer Service Week—these include friendly contests, giveaways, off-site trips, and other group activities throughout the week. Most companies schedule one or two events each day throughout the week with a goal of boosting employee morale and reaffirming the important role that employees play in the success of the service and support organization.

But while the focus of Customer Service Week has traditionally been the service employees themselves, some companies view the celebration as an occasion to recognize customers, as well. And with many organizations facing increased budget pressure this year, a greater focus on the customer can be one way to create a fun, meaningful week of celebration—without breaking the bank. Read More »

Reason Codes: Good Idea, Nightmare to Implement

Medical billing in the U.S. is about to become even more complicated.

In a quest for more accurate medical and insurance diagnoses, the U.S. is in the process of expanding its number of medical billing codes from 18,000 to 140,000.

(Read about some of the hilarious new codes here, including “bitten by squirrel, initial encounter,” “burn due to water skis on fire, subsequent encounter,” and “bizarre personal appearance.”)

Of course the code change is well intended—it is meant to drive improved public health research—but the execution will surely be a nightmare, as any service and support executive knows.

In fact, the headache (not to mention increased cost due to additional administrative headcount) that the medical community will soon face is well known to service and support executives.  Challenges with “call categorization” (i.e., asking frontline staff to document the reason code for a customer conversation) have plagued the function for years.

Despite numerous efforts, service and support organizations simply have found that accurate reason codes are hard to come by—staff simply are unwilling to sift through pages of codes to find the perfect match to the customer issue.

Indeed, call categorization data accuracy has become so poor, that many organizations have drastically reduced the number of reason codes, favoring high level accuracy.  What these organizations have realized is that having a code for every possible call type does not really drive value for the business.  Instead, focusing on accuracy of tracking broader issues and trends is much more effective and actionable.

Read More »

Is the IVR Worth New Investment?

Posted on  21 September 11  by 

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We’ve been blogging a lot about the IVR lately …a “by the numbers” look at the IVR customer experience, tips on using customer feedback to script the IVR, and more.  One thing we haven’t discussed, however, is an IVR-related topic that is sure to spark some debate:

Is the IVR channel worth investing in for the future? 

In other words, should companies invest in additional IVR functionality and enhanced technology moving forward?  Or should we leave it alone, assuming that it is not a “channel of the future”…that our customers will NEVER want to use the IVR en masse (as much as we’d like them to)?

It’s an interesting question.  The CCC research team discussed it recently and it sparked a really good conversation.  To share some of the debate, I’ve asked Matt Lind to spar with me here.  Read More »

How Are You Hiring?

Difficult economic times have prompted many organizations to reevaluate their existing business processes—everything from how the CEO is compensated down to the food served at the company cafeteria. Even when it comes to screening and hiring potential employees, companies have realized the need to increase efficiencies and are looking at new methods to find the ‘best fit’ candidates for their organization.

The problem is that finding those ‘best fits’ isn’t always easy to do in an interview, and with more applicants and fewer positions, companies are increasingly faced with tougher decisions between what appear to be equally qualified candidates. As a result, many organizations are turning to new ‘pre-hire tests’ to check for personality, cognitive abilities, and other competencies in an effort to gain an edge in hiring. Read More »

Why the Time to Be Proactive Is NOW

Posted on  20 September 11  by 

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A few recent events—such as the Yahoo Mail outage, a round of power outages following the earthquake in Japan, and a string of flight cancellations due the extreme winter in New Zealand—illustrate one thing in common: the need for companies to provide proactive information and service to affected customers.

Given the buzz around proactive service over the last few years, it’s easy to imagine that most companies proactively provide information and solutions to customers for critical issues as a minimum service standard. However, CCC’s latest research on proactive contact and alerts indicates that 45% of companies do not leverage proactive contact, even for critical issues. But maintaining a strictly reactive service strategy can cause an influx of costly inbound calls, negative publicity, and customer effort.

So, if you’re trying to move away from reactive ‘firefighting’ to proactive service, what are the things that you need to keep in mind? Read More »

New Iconoculture Insight: Home Energy Report Cards Encourage Neighborhood Competition

CCC has partnered with Iconoculture to bring you the latest in global consumer trends.  Below is our bi-weekly update featuring the latest Iconoculture insights available now on the CCC site.

What if you found out your neighbor spends less money on his energy bill than you? Would you conserve?

OPower sure hopes so. The software company has partnered with several utilities to send homeowners a report card that tracks their home energy use and compares it with that of 100 nearby households. Colorful charts show customers how their energy use compares with the neighborhood’s average, as well as with its most efficient users.  Smiley faces are used as a success measure – so if you get two smiley faces, you know you’re the most energy savvy home on the block.

If you’re underperforming, the report card offers tips, adjusted for peak and off-peak seasons, on how to reduce energy consumption. By encouraging a neighborhood contest, customers have incentive to act on the advice.

Sure, the idea spurs competition and motivates energy conservation. But how does this impact the contact center? Read More »

Are You Thinking Ahead of Your Customers?

Posted on  14 September 11  by 

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The buzz around proactive service has been increasing across the past few years. But….most companies focus on providing critical alerts – think flight cancellation messages or power outage alerts. Fewer companies extend proactive service beyond critical to value-added areas — such as helping customers forward resolve issues or educating customers on how to use products. We found that most companies are just not convinced that offering value-added contact is a viable business strategy.

However, our latest research indicates that, implemented correctly, value-added proactive contact can unlock substantial efficiency and effectiveness gains for the business, and also improve customer experience and lower customer effort.  That said, implementing value-added contact is complex, since customer preferences of the right contact reason, frequency, and channel can differ widely.  

Here’s how you can make value-added contact relevant to the customer and profitable for the business: Read More »

Effective Customer Segmentation Strategies: New CCC Work in Progress

Customer segmentation has traditionally been a sales and marketing tactic. But as companies begin to look to customer service as a market differentiator, many have also started to segment customers for service delivery.

With this in mind, we’re excited to announce a new CCC project: Developing an Effective Consumer Segmentation Approach in Customer Service (B2C).

Over the next two months, we will consider how Business-to-Consumer (B2C) service organizations make the decision to segment or not to segment their customers and we will map the benefits and drawbacks of different segmentation schemes. Read More »

Improving Performance through Smarter Peer Support Networks

Posted on  13 September 11  by 

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Water cooler chats.  Break room talks.  Over-the-wall convos.  These are the traditional ways that our frontline staff interacts with one another.  And while these meetings provide great opportunities for our staff to share ideas & improvement opportunities, unless lunch & break times coincide with each other, staff members tend to interact with the same peers over and over.  And the increasing popularity of remote workforce, not to mention multi-site organizations, has narrowed the field for peer interactions even more.  Shouldn’t we, as executive leaders, be providing more opportunities for these kinds of interactions, not fewer?

The answer is yes, and here’s why and (as important) how:

Read More »