This blog features many contact center industry news stories and also assembles tips for improving agent performance and customer experience, helping teams evolve into world class contact centers. It's an open forum for call center supervisors, agents, vendors and managers to contribute news, stories, anecdotes and other useful information with their peers. Industry vendors and analysts are encouraged to share client success stories.
An enterprise healthcare provider in the Midwest has seen an increase in their average handle time and a reduction in the
overall number of calls, chats,& interactions handled over the last 30 days by their customer service
center. After doing some research and analysis, it was discovered there had
been a spike in what we'll label as "Avoidance",
Avoidance has actually been defined a few different ways so
it’s important to point out exactly which variation of avoidance we are
In this case, we are referring to contact center agents
purposefully avoiding calls, emails or chats to reduce workload.
We're not referring to the act of building
self-help tools and alternative ways for customers to fulfill inquiries without
interacting with an agent and thus "avoiding" calls into a customer
As satisfying and comfortable as management tries to make
it, contact centers are notoriously difficult places for agents to work.
Customers can be at times perceived as demanding or difficult. Leadership is constantly
measuring, reviewing, evaluating and training to create happier customers,
lower talk times and reduced costs. It’s a never ending cycle of increased
Agents are human, and in the highly stressful environment of
a contact center, they will inevitably try to fake out the technology and find
a way to reduce the amount of work crammed into a work day. This is where Avoidance comes in. Avoidance is behavior agents use to purposefully avoid
engaging the customer.
1) Agents might stay
on the line for hours when the customers line did not disconnect.
2) Agents have
been known to simply hang-up on a caller as soon as the call gets routed to
3) Agents might take a call, place it on hold for long periods, then
either disconnect or resume the call until completion.
4) Another example of
avoidance is to shuffle yourself in queue. Agents will switch state to
unavailable, then immediately back to available to be moved to the bottom of
the queue and therefore wait longer for their next call.
These are just a few
examples of agent behavior that can be classified as Avoidance.
The enterprise healthcare organization, fortunately, uses a workforce optimization solution which records all customer service interactions including audio,
video, chat, email, twitter, Facebook messenger and other social channels.
The solution also gathers ACD Statistics and Agent State changes for scheduling, forecasting and
adherence. Armed with all this data, they are able to detect Avoidance.
Management implemented an Avoidance Service from the Workforce Optimization solution and created business rules and alarms to detect and notify
supervisors of agent behavior that could be classified as Avoidance.
avoidance rules implemented were limited to: - calls much shorter than the average talk
- calls much longer than the average talk time
- calls with 15% or more hold
- calls with long hold times
- calls where the agent hung up first
- abandoned chats within the first minute
- deleted emails
- unanswered emails
- tweets which went unanswered
- very short state changes and long periods as unavailable.
when one of these conditions is detected, the supervisor is alerted through email
of the agent behavior and even given the event to playback, review and act
Over the next 60 days management was able to detect, and
act on with evidence, many occurrences of Avoidance.
After proper HR
documentation and agent retraining, management used the Analytics feature to
monitor and trend a decrease in average talk time and an increase in total
number of calls handled and customer satisfaction scores.
If you suspect your agents of avoidance, find a robust workforce optimization solution which offers Avoidance reporting, simply
build in your business rules, set up your alerts and wait for the results.
This customer profile features a Fortune 500 clothing retailer, which includes a chain of popular
women’s wear outlets and has multiple contact center locations in the eastern United States. They've been experiencing rapid growth and have added 5 new locations in the last 6
As their business grows the executive leadership team is most concerned
with the quality of their brand that customers have come to love and expect. “Growth
is great but maintaining that close personal touch with quality fare is our
number one concern”, said the Director of Quality.
The retailer uses a state of
the art Contact Center which accepts orders online and then customers can drop
in and pick-up their merchandise at the nearest location. “The e-commerce
store is what drives our business now to the brick and mortar. Customers expect
their orders delivered quickly and accurately”, he added.
The contact center is built
on leading communications technology and monitoring tools where orders are entered
into the CRM (customer relationship management) software, from either the website or handled through the telephone, and immediately routed to the proper store location and designated for pickup as
though customers ordered right off the rack.
Not only does the team of
quality experts look to ensure order accuracy but they are also responsible for
measuring the quality of the contact center interaction. Using a workforce optimization suite, the team plays back recorded events
from phone calls, emails, web chats, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, SMS as well
as any other active channels. The team of supervisors will then evaluate and score the events to
ensure proper dialogue and resolution. The goal is to have their agents
cultivate the ultimate customer experience.
The contact center
supervisors also use social media monitoring tools to monitor their brand on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and respond when they can. The tools also
provide metadata which can be used to improve performance and responsiveness.
For example, if a customer
had a bad shopping experience at a local store, they might be inclined to make
their next purchase online.
However, in a worst-case but likely scenario the
customer took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction.
The contact center’s
social media monitoring tools detected the Twitter activity and issued a reply
via Twitter from an available agent. The agent expressed an understanding of
the customer’s issue, and told them normally there would not have been an
They assured the customer that the next time they entered the store,
they would have a more satisfactory experience, and a 30% off coupon may help
them get what they are looking for at a fantastic discount. They told the
customer to keep them in the loop on any future experiences.
The Twitter chat was
then escalated to a supervisor, who authorized the coupon and scored the
agent’s response a decent 90 points out of 100. The only improvement suggested
was the agent not addressing the customer’s Twitter handle in the response. The
supervisor then scheduled a re-training of the Twitter Response procedures to
be delivered to the agent via the WFO suite's E-learning features within an agent portal.
This is atypical of standard features found in Workforce Optimization Suites, but "social media monitoring" is available in the Virtual Observer suite.
Facebook seems to be heralding a new age of customer service with their recent announcements coming out of their big conference. Bots will be available for Facebook Messenger to help ease the transition of customer service to their channel. Were they satisfied with just becoming another channel in an omni-channel customer service strategy? No. They are interested in becoming THE channel.
Contact centers better prepare for this!
Fortunately, integrations have already been completed. For example, Skype for Business contact center provider Clarity Connect is capturing the flow of Facebook Messenger chats in their normal streams. Virtual Observer's Workforce Optimization solution provider, previously integrated with Clarity, can allow for these Facebook Messenger interactions to be recorded, played back, evaluated, trained on, analyzed and archived.
Social Media Interactions > Zendesk Support Tickets
Zendesk Support Tickets > CRM Customer Records
Zendesk Support Tickets > Virtual Observer Recorded Events
Zendesk Zopim Chats > Virtual Observer Recorded Events
Zendesk Voice Recording > Virtual Observer Recorded Events
Virtual Observer Event Playback > Zendesk UI
I am sure there are many more data points connected which can and will be cross pollinated. This is an extremely powerful integration which extends the capabilities of all the support centers and contact centers who use this amazing Zendesk tool.
Just as the Clarity Connect integration allows Virtual Observer to be the WFO system of choice for Microsoft Skype for Business environments, our collaboration with Zendesk allows us to connect the dots for customers who are using Zendesk for support and CRM integration.