What does web monitoring have to do with running a call centre? Traditionally website monitoring has been all about “up time” and “delivery speed” and network infrastructure involving very technical measures. Running a call centre, conversely, is about customer service and responsiveness to human needs and problems.
Increasingly, though, as technology plays a deeper part and takes a more central role in everybody’s everyday life what affects the server room directly effects user experience, which directly impacts the call centre – not to mention the bottom line.
Traditionally call centres faced challenges from such things as seasonal peaks, unexpectedly successful ad hoc marketing campaigns, or external events that resulted in a huge increase in inbound calls. The speed and immediacy of online communication today can amplify these conditions to such an extent that they cause a mountain of extra work for the call centre agents and run the risk of brand damage through bad customer service.
But what if there was a way to forecast this type of activity and to effectively plan for, or even prevent, it? Sharing information that enables reproduction and understanding of customer experience across the entire business means that you can be both forewarned and forearmed. This is where thinkTribe’s forward looking, fully integrated, online focussed clients are heading through the use of the “Common Language” and “Single Point of Truth” provided by the SV-Monitoring Suite.
This kind of web innovative monitoring can be used to support the activities of Call Centre agents who can be confident that their time will not be taken up with “firefighting” technical problems for customers such as missing content, slowdowns and other performance errors, and can instead focus on providing the best customer service possible, developing relationships, selling (where appropriate) and brand building.
While traditional static website monitoring can only tell you if the checkout URL or search URL is up or down, the Automated Mystery Shopping that is at the the heart of thinkTribe’s dynamic user journey monitoring tests the whole process, end to end, by ‘Doing what the customer Does’. In turn this frees your IT teams to plan effectively for hardware and IT infrastructure to cope with varying demand – such as “rush hours” and quiet periods, seasonal fluctuations and major campaign activities.
The Lost Opportunities calculations that dynamic user journey monitoring enables means that a monetary value can be assigned to slowdown or downtime or errors based on the value of user activities unique to an organisation and to a specific time.
Let’s take a look at a range of scenarios of how this can help the Call Centre, Account Management and Customer Service functions in collaboration with IT:
- An average basket value of a user at 6pm on a Friday may be much more valuable than the average at 2am on a Wednesday – so an error with the checkout process on the latter may be less damaging to the bottom line. Lost Opportunities calculations that factor this in help with decisions on when and if to switch over to new hosting capacity whether new software has too many teething troubles and should be rolled back, or whether technicians on the call out rota need more tools to reduce their time to resolve problems and whether extra support or customer service agents would be required (and need advance training) to cover any user experienced errors.
- A user who views a full product demo video may be more valuable in terms of likelihood of completing a lead generation form so a user journey that includes a video view may be more valuable to the telesales team than one that does not. Alternatively, you may find that when the video works more users order directly online rather than calling up to place their order. If there is a decision to be made on fixing a bug on the video player or another component on your site this information could help make the business case for one over the other.
- Errors in conditional logic where users were not able to choose the correct combination of options, or were sent the wrong configuration of items can cause an increase in calls (and costs) to support or customer service, or an elevated number of product returns resulting in refunds. The cost of replacements, call centre staff churn due to stressful working conditions and brand damage may be much higher in the long term than anticipated.
- If the stock inventory system is not responding, or not updating, to the online store: what will be the cost of users who look elsewhere, wanting to be certain they can definitely get the goods. If the user contacts the call centre for help what does it mean for the brand if the agents have not even been made aware that there is a problem, let alone how to help the user around it, or when it might be resolved.
Once you start to calculate how many times a user will return, what the average basket value is for each visit, how much they are worth over the course of the length of an average customer relationship with your organisation – and how much it costs to recruit new users vs continuing a good relationship with existing loyal customers the cost of “just a couple of hours of partial downtime” suddenly doesn’t seem so small.
In addition customer profiles should be borne in mind as well. For example you may know that the customers for a particular user journey (who might buy a particular kind of product) may be more or less likely to ring the call centre for support more quickly, or lose faith in the brand more readily.
Even if the problem cannot be anticipated or prevented, as not all problems can be, the fact that IT can quickly investigate and diagnose the problem, and share this information with the rest of the business, means customer facing departments have the opportunity to manage the situation effectively. It is better to be able to tell a customer that there is a technical issue and what it is, or put a message on the phone system or site acknowledging the problem with an estimated resolution time than it is to take the same call from hundreds of irate customers.
In the past, in many organisations, departments have existed quite separately with their own areas of responsibility and specialisation. While the specialisations are still localised, the all-embracing nature of eCommerce and online communications means that the results of those skills and that knowledge and experience needs to be shared widely across the organisation for it to run as effectively as possible.
For this to work seamlessly, though, all those departments need to know how the others work, what they do, and what information they need to perform. Help IT, Operations and Marketing to know when they should contact you, what information you need, and what information you can provide to them. When thinking about the information you would use from web monitoring you might want to consider the following as an initial checklist:
- Work with IT to look for whether there was a root technical cause of, or even a correlation with, any of the recent peaks in customer service or support calls and help them to understand what the “ripple effect” of that issue was and work out the best way to manage a response to any similar problems in future.
- Take historic monitoring data into account when forecasting for budget, recruitment and day to day resource allocation. A business case for investment in new staff, training, hardware or systems, for example, will be much more robust if it shows the wider impact across multiple departments and on the bottom line.
- If there are key user journeys that you need to know about immediately errors occur then ask to be added to the email or SMS alerts for that journey. The alerting system is highly configurable by time of day, journey, error type and person. There are also overview reports that your team may find useful. which allow you to select the information you need and the send frequency of daily, weekly or monthly.
- Arrange a regular meeting for all departments to come together and look over the performance of user journeys. This can provide much needed context to any technical issues or user behaviour and deepen understanding across the organisation.
- Make decisions, and present your cases, based on data to protect your team, prove your point and show how KPIs have been met. When everyone is using the same information it reduces the opportunity for hearsay, conjecture, buck passing and blame shifting.
- Provide reports and information to 3rd parties and others that your work with under SLA where appropriate. Even if you do not work with the 3rd party directly (for example in the case of a 3rd party who provides information to your site, or delivery service, or search etc) you need to know if the performance of that service is affecting the Call Centre and give the department that does own the relationship the necessary information to discuss the impact of those issues with them.
- Where an error occurs the ability to replay the screen exactly as the customer saw it will help Call Centre agents to better understand user experiences and support them more effectively.
- Ensure your team know who to contact if there is a problem and what the process should be for IT informing your team
- Feedback ideas for where “pain points” exist for customers that other departments may be able to solve and track the results in the monitoring software. Take advantage of the ability to annotate errors or slowdowns in the portal so that at review or analysis time the thought and comments of your department are included.
Tribe’s wallboard, showing the live performance of all dynamic user journeys, is now displayed on large screens hanging on the Call Centres of many of our clients. This enables the call centre to see what is going on with the relevant user journeys and to act pre-emptively and contact colleagues in other departments if they see a problem or pattern emerging. Some clients go a step further than this and give Customer Services Managers logins to the SV Portal so that they can drill down and look at the data directly.
Taken as a whole this means planning, prioritization, resource allocation and prediction of true company wide costs and ROI can be made with a much more stable foundation that is based on real data, not gut feel.
The SV Monitoring Suite includes a number of products, designed for the needs of different teams, but which all us the same data and the same common language to provide a “single point of truth” to enable easy collaboration across the organisation.
All SV-Monitoring Suite Products:
- Use a single, intuitive performance monitor portal accessible anywhere via the cloud.
- Allow easy navigation, and live in-depth drill down as well as summaries and overviews.
- Are built on thinkTribe’s unique approach to dynamic monitoring: including multi-page routes, that can ‘Do What The Customer Does’ for all aspects of site functionality.