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Rick Cook 4 Ways CRM Can Improve Call Center Agent Productivity

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By Rick Cook

The great strength of customer relationship management software is that it can present an integrated and holistic view of the customer. It collects all the information on each contactee and activity in one place and can display it in a single, easy to read view.

This obviously allows for much more sophisticated marketing communications and it is invaluable in sales force automation. It can also dramatically improve the performance of contact center agents by offering a 360 degree view of the customer as well as presenting all the relevant information on the customer as needed.

However beyond that, CRM systems can make a major improvement in the automation, management and information reporting for the call center. A well designed integration between CRM applications and the array of call center systems can reduce call time, improve up sell and cross-sell, produce a higher First Call Resolution rate and improve contact agent productivity. Of course it can improve many other basic contact center metrics as well, but let's take a look at four commonly cited benefits.

Reduce Call Time

One of the most fundamental metrics in any call center is how long it takes to complete a call. The length of call depends on a number of factors, including the type of call and the customer, however one of the most important factors is how long it takes the CSR (Customer Service Representative) to find and impart the information necessary to resolve the customer’s needs.

One of the most contributing factors influencing time per call is how long it takes the call center agent to find the information necessary to help the customer. A well-designed contact center CRM system, generally integrated with other call center software systems, can put real-time information at the agent's fingertips, speeding call resolution and improving customer satisfaction in the process.

Improve Up Sell and Cross Sell

A well designed customer management system can provide automated workflow in order to increase customer share and revenue by up-selling and cross-selling during the customer interaction. Again, this is a function of leveraging available information and intelligent use of it.

A classic company example of up selling and cross-selling is When a customer visits the web site, the information the company collects on its customers is exploited in several different ways. If you browse for a particular book or DVD, the site suggests similar or related titles based on what other customers who have purchased that title have bought. If you sign in to your Amazon account the system will search your purchase history and recommend titles related to the ones you have purchased previously. These are highly effective cross selling examples.

The Amazon system operates without customer service representatives, but the same principles can be applied by contact center agents – if they’re given the right data by their CRM software system. Based on the customer’s current purchase and purchase history the customer management system can suggest related or complimentary products, such as gasket sealant with a gasket set, or extra bits with a cordless drill. This can be even more effective if it is combined with special offers targeted at the specific customer. A customer who buys a set of cookware, for example, can be offered a discount on a set of cooking utensils. Someone who orders running shoes can be given a deal on athletic socks, and so on.

Higher FCR Rate

First Call Resolution (FCR) is the holy grail of call center efficiency. Satisfying the customer without escalation or call backs increases call center efficiency, reduces costs and significantly improves customer satisfaction.

The key to FCR is on-demand information, training and authority. If the first contact center agent doesn’t have the necessary information, knowledge or the authority to deal with the customer’s problem, it can't be resolved on the first call.

CRM can't do anything about authority, but it can definitely help with information.

Streamline Call Center Workflows

Poor business process workflow is one of those problems that is like a stone in your shoe. It doesn’t bring things to a complete halt, but it increases call time and cuts the efficiency of the operation – not to mention irritating the call center agents.

One of the most common workflow problems is screen pong. The contact agent needs to open multiple screens to deal with a customer request and has to keep bouncing back and forth between them to find information, enter information, check status and do other basic tasks.

The usual cause of screen pong is a lack of integration among the business software applications the contact center agent has to use to do his or her job. CRM systems can end screen pong by letting you design screens that present all the information the call center agent needs on a single page.

Similarly, CRM software screen layouts are highly flexible. You can design application software screens that will integrate information from the customer database in the CRM application and data from the various call center applications into customized screens that guide your agents through the workflow with a minimum of effort on their part. This speeds up the call, improves customer service and makes life less stressful for call center agents. End

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x Emily Morrison
  I agree with your points but think technology is an underlying assumption in all this. A common problem for many CSRs is not having the right customer data on their desktop when communicating with customers. In many situations, the company has the data somewhere, its just not accessible by the right person at the right time. Information is pretty much useless unless its filtered, funneled and delivered when needed to the people who are empowered to resolve customer situations and ultimately improve the customer relationship. CRM systems which systemically deliver this information make repeatable processes and a consistent customer experience possible. CSRs can then apply the information to solve customer problems, satisfy customer requests and proactively contribute to the customer experience.




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A well designed integration between CRM applications and the array of call center systems can reduce call time, improve up sell and cross-sell, produce a higher First Call Resolution rate and improve contact agent productivity.


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