From Brian's Desk

Contact Center Excellence – Stand Out From The Crowd

Rework and Errors

Rework in the contact center can take many forms.  Rework means spending additional resources doing work that should have been completed correctly the first time.  There are various reasons for the rework, it is measured in different ways, and remedied in different ways.  Rework means having to retrain staff because the training, for whatever reason or reasons, was not effective the first time it was given.  Rework means answering a second or third call from the same customer that should have been handled the first time.  Rework means data correction in the back office because data was either captured or entered erroneously.

Within the industry, we have FCR to measure the first type of rework mentioned above.  There are various approaches to addressing FCR problems; additional training, more robust knowledge, and asking the caller if in fact the call was resolved before ending the call are several.  Many have told me that the largest gains they witnessed in FCR occurred when Handle Time, or at least Talk Time, was removed as an agent-level measurement.  Without the time pressure, agents are able to spend the needed time on a call or contact and are therefore more likely to resolve the query or issue.  I recall a quote, I really cannot attribute unfortunately, but it states “for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, elegant and wrong.”  I strongly advise leaders to really understand their Talk Time, and their After Call Work and not make a simplistic and hasty move to change what and how efficiency is measured and at what level.  In my book, “Contact Center Excellence”, I make the case for managing variability and analyzing outliers rather than managing to averages.  Leaders need to have a good understand of how their Talk Time varies across the agents in the center, and then understand why.

Rework in the form of retraining can be very costly for a contact center, not only in terms of the time of the phone costs and training team costs, but cost to customer satisfaction, and perhaps back-office costs.  Sometimes training effectiveness can be measured by FCR; a low FCR across the center for a given call topic is a good indicator that training was inadequate.  Call (or email or chat) transfers can also be an indicator.  And, if the transfers are to back-office staff, or chats to back-office staff with questions, you will hear about it from the back-office leadership.  At the last center where I was a leader, we had a productivity tool that captured all chats; the reason code for the chat, the transcript of the chat, and an indicator from the ‘chatee’ if they felt the chat was needed as the result of a knowledge or training gap.  Management could quickly determine if there was a training issue.  Online training has become a very good alternative to dragging staff into a training room and can be taken during downtime or during breaks scheduled for that purpose.

Rework due to errors can have a major effect on downstream business processes.  Consider a sale made with an error in the shipping address.  There may be additional expense to the company to reship a product, and potentially additional remediation expenses for a customer dissatisfied that their package did not arrive on time.  Errors in gathering the correct insurance information at patient registration can have significant impacts on a healthcare provider’s revenue cycle.  It is always easier and less costly to fix an error before it leaves the contact center.  Much better to have your contact center application perform the correct edits and audits automatically.  The technology exists to ‘watch’ the keystrokes at the agent desktop and either automatically correct errors, or display an alert with an explanation.  (Pardon the commercial plug, but Cincom’s Synchrony product does have this capability.)

In conclusion, measure the amount of rework you have then take steps to minimize it.  What are you doing to eliminate rework?


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