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Call Center/CRM Management Scope
April 2003

Monitoring For Quality Across Multiple Customer Touch Points Leads To Increased Customer Satisfaction And Improved Business Performance

By Jim Park and Jackie Wiedner, NICE Systems

It is quickly becoming the industry standard today to record calls that come into the organization's contact center. Companies use these calls to identify areas where agents need additional training to improve customer service and boost efficiency in the contact center as well as to mine for business intelligence and glean valuable customer insights. From an enterprise standpoint, companies are finding significant value by leveraging these calls to hone in on areas where business processes need to be fine-tuned. In the financial services and insurance industries, in particular, businesses capture all of these customer interactions to protect against liability on legal disputes about a particular transaction. But, this world has expanded to introduce new customer touch points beyond the traditional telephone call to include e-mail, online chat, VoIP calls, etc. These customer communications vehicles also need to be captured, evaluated and analyzed in order to gain a comprehensive picture of the customer experience and to ensure all customer transactions are garnered and stored for risk and liability purposes. 

From the quality management side of things, many contact centers haven't yet figured out how to address the need to measure quality of service across these multiple touch points. In a recent study by ICMI, The Multi-channel Call Center Study, between 24 and 44 percent of contact centers that support other media, such as e-mail, chat and Web callbacks, indicated that they do not monitor agent performance across these channels. These organizations are missing the opportunity to increase efficiencies and improve the overall quality of the customer experience to significantly impact the business bottom line.

In order to achieve these improvements, however, contact center managers must have the necessary tools to capture and evaluate these interactions so the organization can make necessary improvements to agent training, business processes, customer service, and also the new desktop applications agents are using.

The People
The contact center's most costly and valuable resource is its agents. By taking the time and investing in the necessary resources to properly evaluate the quality of service of your e-agents, you are in effect making a significant investment in the success of your contact center and overall effectiveness and productivity of your most costly asset, your people. 

In order to maximize the capabilities of your agents, it is essential that they have the necessary skills and ongoing development to effectively service your customers. While many of them may be experienced in handling telephone interactions, that does not mean they have the multichannel skills your operation requires. You'll need to train, evaluate and provide coaching to these agents on the new skills required to best service the customer via these channels. These can include, for example, system navigation, proper use of applications and resources, accuracy, and clear and concise business writing techniques, grammar and spelling. Evaluating and coaching toward these skills will continually grow your agents to more effectively answer customer inquiries that come in through e-mail or online chat in a timely and high-quality manner. 

With the emergence of these new channels of communication, contact center agents are using many new applications at their desktops, including Web collaboration, e-mail management and CRM applications. Proper use of these applications is key to an efficient and quality interaction. By recording a sample per agent of these many types of interactions using screen recording, call center management will have the tools to adequately assess the training needs of these agents. This process needs to be conducted on a regular basis to keep agents' skills up to par with the growing complexity of many new applications. 

The Process
Measuring contact center performance across all of your customer touch points is critical to also understanding the consistency of your customer communication. With the right tools, your multichannel customer interactions can be evaluated to garner a unified view of the customer experience and contact center performance. This allows the organization to evaluate a sampling across all customer communication channels for a centralized, holistic view to determine if the customer is receiving the right level of service, consistently, and assess the skills of agents handling these new channels. Contact center managers can also pinpoint particular opportunities for improvement this way. For instance, if an agent handles multiple interaction types, supervisors can record a sample of their calls, e-mail messages, and chat interactions, etc., and evaluate quality levels across all interaction types using unified performance reports by team or individual agent. With a central view of performance across all of these channels, managers are able to pinpoint opportunities to improve efficiencies and quality across all media. 

Additionally, unified performance reports enable managers to identify which agents are best suited to serve each of these channels to be used to adjust staffing or training programs to align agents with the right skills to serve customers across each of these channels. 

A vital tool for managing quality of multi-channel interactions is screen recording that captures the agent's screen activity. This allows the contact center manager to see what's happening on the agent's screen during customer interactions and learn what improvements need to be made. They might learn that the agent is slow in processing information for the customer because he/she has trouble navigating through the system. Opportunities can be identified for streamlining the applications that agents use and the steps they must take, by implementing improvements such as automatic screen-pop or relevant reference tools and resources. This will lead to productivity improvements to help the agent complete the response to the customer in a more timely fashion.

Executives within the organization can also use the information garnered across the various customer interactions channels for business intelligence purposes. For instance, recorded interactions with customers regarding the promotion across each of these channels can provide marketing executives with valuable insights about how their promotion was received, including customer comments and reactions that can be used for developing future promotional campaigns.

The Technologies
Similar to automated call monitoring, where a small sample of phone calls are captured for quality purposes, a sample should now be randomly selected and evaluated across every contact point. To help make this possible, quality monitoring vendors have integrated with Web vendors to enable recordings of e-mail, chat and collaboration interactions from start to finish. There are a number of tools available today to help organizations achieve all of these things. 

Multimedia QM Recording 
Recording, storage and quality monitoring tools are being used for capturing and evaluating customer interactions regardless of the media type, such as online evaluation tools to assess the quality of e-mail and chat interactions.

Multichannel interaction queuing solutions enable an organization to capture a sampling of calls, e-mail messages, chats, etc. per agent.

Agent screen recording (dynamic, not static) software for identifying agent skills and training needs can lead to significant agent workflow and productivity gains. 

Intelligent Screen Event Recording
Smart recording software that initiates desktop recording based on any number of pre-set triggers such as the agent clicking on the 'help' button or entering a certain value in a specific field. Recording is no longer initiated based on the start/end of the phone call but rather based on specified events on the screen. 

It is important to account for the necessary screen recording storage capacity ' screen is heavier and takes up more space than voice. There are combined hardware (storage) and software solutions available in the market to solve this problem.

Multimedia Evaluation 
Online evaluation forms enable supervisors to evaluate their agents across each type of media, whether it is e-mail, phone calls, Web chats, etc. 

Any number of online evaluation forms can be created to customize quality criteria across the different media types, for a consistent quality monitoring program across the enterprise. 

Unified Reporting 
The ability to analyze results across multiple contact points from a single application allows companies to easily identify areas for coaching and training. Supervisors can view quality scores on their teams across all media types from a central source.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys 
A survey is critical when e-mail and chat are introduced into the contact center. When listening to a phone interaction, one can more easily detect customer satisfaction levels by the tone of the customer's voice. With e-mail, however, it is difficult to know if the customer was satisfied with his or her response to the e-mail or chat inquiry, unless he or she replies back to communicate that it did not address the inquiry or did not make sense. An essential means to measure customer satisfaction with e-mail and chat responses is to follow-up with a survey. Ask the customer, 'Did we answer your question?', 'Did you receive a response in a timely fashion?', 'Was the communication received clearly?' 

A common challenge with any form of written communication is interpretation. That is, agents misinterpret the customer request and respond inappropriately. Customer surveys offered after the interaction are one of the few ways that this can be evaluated. 

By using integrated e-learning and quality monitoring applications, recorded interactions of best practices of agents can be used as training modules for less experienced agents. 

Application changes and procedures can be easily demonstrated using screen recordings and delivered as AVIs to the agent desktop as a training module.

Impact Of Web Self-Service On The Contact Center
Web self-service technologies are quickly becoming popular in many of today's organizations in an attempt to better serve customers and reduce costs associated with serving them. Although the goal is to direct customers to these new means of self-service, customers still want to interact with a human being when these avenues do not address their needs. 

Having customers search through a never-ending database of online documents and product information isn't always the best way to service customers. In fact, if the self-service channel is not designed properly, the opposite result can occur, leading to customer frustration, decreased customer loyalty, or even defection. 

The contact center is the first to hear about these frustrations as customers call the service center to address their issues. With intelligent recording technologies, contact centers can record customer complaints about self-service channels and provide valuable feedback and insight to other departments that are developing these avenues of service. While Web self-service technologies can be an effective supplement to a fully interactive contact center, they alone cannot be expected to provide the stellar level of customer experience organizations today hope to achieve. The contact center is the vital hub for customer feedback about what is working and what is not working, so companies can continually improve the customer experience and increase the efficiency of their self-service efforts. 

As organizations expand their customer touch points in an attempt to better serve their customers, they must be careful not to over-extend beyond their ability to deliver consistent customer service across all communications channels. This is critical to the organization's ability to build and maintain customer loyalty.

Captured customer interactions across all customer touch points offer a wealth of valuable information that can be translated into improved business processes, garnered business intelligence, contact center efficiency and effectiveness, improved customer satisfaction and more, all leading to increased business performance. 

Making the right investments in performance monitoring and improvement technologies will enable contact centers to increase the effectiveness of their people and processes in order to deliver a consistent and efficient quality experience across these new channels. 

Jim Park is president of CEM for NICE Systems, and Jackie Wiedner is director of product marketing for NICE, a provider of multimedia digital recording solutions, applications and related professional services for business interaction management. 

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