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Contact Centre Nirvana – Improving Services While Reducing Costs

This week, Enghouse Interactive kicked off its Customer Interaction Tour in ANZ. Visiting five cities across the region, each one features a panel discussion with various partners and/or customers, John Cray, Enghouse Interactive’s VP of Product Marketing, and myself.

The first stops on the tour were Auckland and Wellington. Our panel Guest of Honour was Mike Manson, Business Development Executive for Palmerston North City Council. We could not have asked for better insights than those provided by Mike. In fact, Mike has set a high precedent for the other panels on the tour, by tackling a topic that is probably at the forefront of every contact centre managers’ mind – how to improve your customer service offering, while reducing costs.

They are the two things I feel we would all agree are the mainstay behind the contact centre mantra. But while they are both key priorities, they can seem to be at odds with one another. How do you provide ‘more’ while spending ‘less’?

Mike gave a perfect example of how Palmerston North City Council have achieved just that, and defeated the ever-present contact centre conundrum. For Palmerston the answer was self-service.

It is a common misconception that when people are looking for support their highest priority is to ‘speak’ to someone. This is not the case. Their main priority is to get the information they need, as quickly and easily as possible.

Palmerston receives over 3300 different types of questions a month. Not total questions, just different types. By looking at the metrics it became clear there were certain bottleneck areas. One of those was queries about when refuse collections take place in the different areas of the city.

The main cost associated with contact centres is the people. Agents, their salaries, training, office space, and the technology they use – it accounts for around 70% of the overall running cost. Reducing the need to engage an agent drastically improves the budget. However, doing it in a way that does not reduce the quality of the customer experience is key.

Palmerston looked at the channels they owned and updated them so that information about refuse collection times was more accessible. By bringing the information to the front of the council’s website, and they also gave it prominence on their Facebook profile.

After this was done they received 12,000 views on Facebook alone!

That’s 12,000 potential calls to an agent, redirected, just by providing the information in a quicker and easier self-service way.

Simply from a time saving perspective, if each call normally takes two minutes, this equates to 100 hours of call time to an agent saved per month, with one simple change.

It really is a great example of how effective use of unified communications can bring improvements to both quality of service and costs.





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