Call Center – Customer Service Differentiation Strategy
Many of SQM's call center clients use a differentiation strategy to differentiate their customer service from the competition and deliver a great customer experience (CX). From a customer perspective, a great CX means when they use a call center, they experience First Call Resolution (FCR) and are very satisfied.
SQM CX research shows that 93% of customers expect their call to be resolved on the first call. Therefore, in order for a call center to achieve a successful CX differentiation strategy, they will need a world-class performance of 80% or higher FCR and 85% or higher customer satisfaction (e.g., very satisfied survey top box response). Unfortunately, only 5% of call centers can achieve world-class FCR and customer satisfaction (Csat) metrics.
Furthermore, the CX differentiation strategy includes FCR and customer satisfaction (Csat) goals, accountability, and incentives for all contact center employees (e.g., managers, support staff, and agents). This strategy requires a high commitment to delivering world-class FCR and Csat.
For the CX differentiation strategy, most SQM clients hold managers and support staff to FCR goals and hold agents to call resolution goals, creating more line of sight accountability. As a result, it is common for organizations to employ the CX differentiation strategy to have their contact centers improve FCR and Csat year after year or maintain world-class FCR performance.
As a result, FCR performance drives customer service and cost performance. For example, SQM Group's research shows for every 1% improvement in FCR, there is a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction," and you reduce operating costs by 1%."
Assigning Dedicated Agents to Specific Customer Types
Some call centers have successfully implemented a CX differentiation strategy by assigning dedicated agents to specific customer types in B2B or B2C call centers to deliver great CX. Dedicated agents for specific customer types are a relationship approach for handling inquiries and problems.
Using dedicated agents for specific customer types (e.g., new, high value, complex, escalation, helpdesk, and unresolved calls) can help deliver great CX. The dedicated agent approach is more commonly used in B2B than B2C call centers. As previously mentioned, the dedicated agent is a relationship approach that some describe the agent as an account rep or manager.
The traditional customer service approach that call centers use is generalist agents for handling calls. Using the generalist agents approach, every time a customer calls or emails a call center, they talk to a different agent. As a result, the agent generalist approach provides lower cost, quality, and Csat in most cases, whereas the dedicated agent relationship approach provides higher cost, quality, and Csat.
When a customer calls the call center using dedicated agents, they talk to the same agent every time. The value of this type of operating practice is that agents take more ownership for resolving customer issues and problems because they have an ongoing relationship with those customers. Moreover, a dedicated agent becomes more familiar with their assigned customer needs and business issues. Therefore, from the customer's perspective, they value talking to the same agent.
From SQM's perspective, in many cases, differentiation and customer loyalty are easier to achieve through dedicated agents, rather than trying to create differentiation and customer loyalty through using the organization's products, pricing, and services which can be challenging to differentiate. Furthermore, customers are more loyal to people than products, pricing, and services in many cases.
In most cases, call centers that use a dedicated agent approach to differentiate their customer service do so with their business customers or high-value customers who frequently phone or email the call center.
In closing, if properly implemented, call centers that use the dedicated agent approach for specific customer types can expect a 5% to 10% increase in FCR and Csat performance for those same customers. The downside of using the dedicated agent approach as a business practice is the inefficiency of not using a large agent generalized labor pool.