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Five signs you have a broken process and what to do about it

The contact centre is customers’ main doorway to an organisation – and it is often presented as a giving a great customer experience, with the brand promise of caring and friendly staff, and an open and transparent philosophy. Sadly, for many, the customer experience doesn’t match the hype. This is where broken processes are letting businesses down badly.

It never ceases to surprise me how many businesses fail to recognise broken processes. While many are easy to spot, there are other broken processes that are much more subtle and more difficult to identify. It is no wonder that many contact centres are not aware that they even have them. I often speculate about how many revenue, customer and staff losses are attributed to hidden broken processes.

In this blog, I highlight five examples of broken processes in the contact centre.

1. Inconsistent data records

This is generally brought about by data and workflows not being integrated. Basically, the information gained is not being propagated to process management. This is a big danger area for many contact centres. Warning: this is one that will come back to bite you later.

Here is an example: a customer calls in to say that their parcel did not arrive, which gets dealt with by a member of staff in isolation. The problem gets resolved, but there is little or no understanding of why the problem occurred and no feedback loop to prevent it happening again. The solution is to have a well-documented and automated process for updating systems of record with newly obtained information, this will provide consistent levels of information throughout the business.

2. Long call-queue times

Long queue times are one of the biggest areas of concern in the contact centre and can be a huge contributor to customer frustration and churn. Identifying the root cause is almost certain to show that you have one or more broken processes. Are your staffing levels adequate? Are your staff properly trained? By analysing conversational data, combined with workforce and knowledge management, you will gain valuable insights into what is causing your long queue times.

3. Repeat callers

Your organisation may have spent time and effort to document processes and make that documentation available to your agents in a knowledge base. In theory, the knowledge base is intended to guide your agents through every customer call so that every issue is handled consistently. Unfortunately, this is often a manual process that can be slow. Every time an agent goes to the knowledge base, they must search for the information they need, read through the instructions and interpret how best to proceed, and usually while the customer waits on hold. Even the most comprehensive knowledge bases are inefficient and increase the likelihood for error. By automating your knowledge-base searches based on the conversation, you can deliver the relevant knowledge to steer your agents in real time, resulting in a more efficient, faster and more consistent delivery of information. Getting your customers the right information, first time, will significantly reduce the need for them to call back.

4. Manual processes

Businesses have a lot of manual processes, whether in customer service, fulfilment or logistics. We still use a pen and paper to take notes and write down instructions or even solutions to the problems that we have just resolved. However, what do we do with those pieces of paper? How do we get what we have just learnt, or maybe even fixed, back into the knowledge base? We can get all our pieces of paper together at the end of the day and manually update our systems of record, but we often do not. There is rarely time during the working day to do that and when the day is done so are we, resulting in everything we have learnt going nowhere. Automated conversational transcription or summary can be used to automatically document some or all the conversations and insert that summary or transcription into your CRM or system of record, meaning the information is available in the future. It can also be used to update your process management system, enabling processes to be automatically updated.

5. Survey results

Increasingly, businesses are turning to surveys to try to gauge how well they are doing, as well as highlighting areas for improvement. These may be collected traditionally or via social media sites. Information received could be gleaned from questions and answers or from frustrated comments. This can certainly indicate when something is not working. Being able to harness this information in real time or near real time will enable you to gain understanding and make fast changes before matters escalate, and will allow you to optimise your processes.

In summary, while I could continue with another 50 broken processes that businesses are missing, I hope that these will provide clues to where to target and probe a little deeper to uncover your broken processes.

Contexta360 is a broken-process expert. Our aim is to help businesses navigate and build better processes through conversational intelligence and AI-fuelled analytics.

Please get in touch if you would like to learn more.