Call Center Analysis Should Focus on Resolving Cases

If you measure agent performance in a call center by the average time it takes to handle an inbound call, you are making a big mistake. That was the message Wells Fargo SVP Gary Class offered attendees at a session on call center metrics at the SourceMedia Business Intelligence Forum here. The measure instead should be the elapsed time it takes to solve the customer's problem.

Handling inbound calls successfully can be a huge factor in determining whether a lender will be successful in cross-selling products such as HELOCs, he stressed. Business intelligence technology, particularly pattern-recognition software, earns its keep, he argued, "because the more you can predict behavior, the better you serve customers" and thereby "earn the right to cross-sell."

A call center has to balance a tradeoff between keeping a handle on the direct cost of agent time and the indirect benefit of quality customer service. One problem with trying to keep the lid on the averaging handling time of calls, explained Mr. Class, is that call center agents whose performance is evaluated by the average time they take to deal with an inbound call learn ways to skew the figures in ways that actually undermine the customer experience.

A successful business intelligence strategy, he said, begins by formulating a "customer value framework" as a background for measuring components of customer satisfaction that includes such factors as tolerance for wait time. Against that background, the call center can map strategies for predicting peak times and the likelihood of long calls clogging the pipes.

Collecting "reason for the call" data are a crucial component in a customer-centric call center strategy. Mr. Class said technology can provide the most reliable and cost-effective metrics through "passive logging" that automates coordination of front-end systems with middleware and retrieval of information from the system of record to get calls routed to the right employee. Passive logging is less expensive and resource intensive than call monitoring and direct customer surveys, he said, and less disruptive and unreliable than phone agent self-reporting.

WellsFargo.com figures show 31% of the customers who call two-plus times account for 58% of the interactions, with novices and "trailblazers" interested in new products and services making most of the long calls. Shortening those calls is not the point, he said, rather, it is to reduce the number of calls required to solve the problem and increase customer loyalty. He quoted statistics showing that 34% of caller issues with banks are never solved and only 23% are resolved on the first call.

In addition to its 3,200 branches and 6,500 ATMs, Wells Fargo boasts 7.6 million active online banking customers. To serve that channel, Wells Fargo's call center agents field some 20 million inbound calls per month.

SNAPSHOT: Wells Fargo Call Center

Calls Per Month 20 million

Two Time or More Callers

Share of Interactions 58%

SOURCE: Wells Fargo (c) 2006 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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