Amdocs' Zohar says telecom customers still opt for assisted sales and care
Inefficient agent desktops keep costs of helping frustrated customers high
Contact centers are expensive, but they remain the front line for key customer interactions. Despite communications service providers’ efforts to shift more customer interactions to self-care channels, most customers continue to opt for human interactions when buying services and seeking care, according to Amdocs’ Customer Management Division’s head of product marketing Yossi Zohar.
Amdocs’ research shows that 56.8 percent of customers across all global regions still choose to call contact centers or visit retail locations when seeking assistance. As result, service providers continue to seek pragmatic ways to make contact center agents more efficient as even incremental improvements can save millions.
To help improve how operators manage that customer experience, Amdocs today released CM 8.1, a new version of its customer management platform for customer service reps. The platform aims to improve CSR and in-store rep efficiency via a variety of process and user interface improvements.
According to Amdocs’ Zohar, many customers prefer human assistance in sales and care scenarios for psychological reasons. For example, when purchasing a new mobile device and plan, customers know they are “committing to two years” and as a result “want to make the right choice and talk to someone.” Further, Zohar says the retail location is appealing for mobile customers because stores offer “instant gratification – you walk out with your device” as well as the opportunity to try a device before buying it. That’s why “more retailers are putting live devices – not just dummy phones – in their displays,” Zohar says.
When seeking care, Zohar says when customers are in a “state of frustration” and want problems fixed rapidly they don’t have the patience to “go into the web to figure out how to submit a dispute and wait for someone to call, they’d rather get to the call center immediately.” Amdocs is working to address some of the fundamental issues that can make those interactions expensive and inconsistent.
Metrics like average handling time and time to resolution are measured regularly and closely associated with costs. Incremental improvements in these metrics can translate into millions in reduced expenses for large operators particularly when costs per call range from $5 to $15. These metrics are inflated because, according to research from the Yankee Group that Amdocs cites, agents often must navigate fifteen or more different desktop applications.
Add up the number of clicks, time to toggle through screens, and back end performance issues, and there’s a lot of unnecessary time built into every interaction. Further, these non-essential activities distract agents from helping customers. The morass of systems is also difficult for agents to learn, much less master. Contact centers are notorious for high turnover, so the complexity adds to the ongoing cost and challenge to train new agents.
Zohar says Amdocs’ usability experts sat “next to the reps” in “a total of 60 (customer) call centers” where they “listened to their calls and saw how they navigate through multiple desktop applications.” Further, he says, usability engineers have learned from online experiences and from devices like the iPhone that excel at simplifying complex functionality and presenting interfaces that are easy for anyone to master.
This approach drove the design of Amdocs’ new Customer Management 8.1 applications which are intended to simplify agents’ interactions with sales and care systems. The practical goal is to make interactions more efficient – anywhere from 15 to 50 percent, depending on the scenario – and enable agents to learn systems faster and focus more on positive customer engagements.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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