In an interview published by McKinsey earlier this year, Mike Bracken, Executive Director of the UK's Government Digital Service, reported that 693 million calls were received by central government contact centres during 2013.
Bracken explains that of the 693 million calls, 150 million could have been avoided, but in many cases users were driven to phone the contact centre because the digital service failed to allow them to achieve their goals.
With each of these calls thought to be costing around £6.28, an estimated £942 million could have also been avoided. According to Bracken, further investigation found that for each end-to-end transaction it typically takes five phone calls to get the issue or question answered for the citizen, adding more cost to customer enquiries being resolved.
Putting the customer first
An ambitious change in approach from central government has seen it make significant steps towards simplifying public access to services and information. At the heart of this, Bracken explains, is to put users first by allowing them to access the information they need, when they need it.
The UK government isn't alone in its thinking. In 2010 a Harvard Business Review (HBR) challenged the notion that "delighting customers" increases loyalty and instead claimed that what customers really want is a solution, with minimal effort.
Yet making it easy for customers is becoming more difficult. In today's fast-paced world we expect to be connected any time, any place. Our communication now encompasses a wide range of channels: email, SMS, social media, video and more, all from a single device.
It is getting harder to make it easy
With rising customer demands and expectations for speed and efficiency of communication, businesses are challenged to manage all channels effectively, ensuring the same high level of service and knowledge is available, regardless of how customers choose to interact.
The trend of delivering service via multiple channels is increasing which, together with more direct engagement of 'back office' business units, adds complexity to making interaction with customers easier.
Best practice suggests that to assess the customer journey effectively, businesses should consider a balance of First Contact Resolution (FCR), Customer Effort and Customer Lifetime Value metrics.
Contact centre professional can also consider the following additional recommendations:
- Map the customer journey
- Adopt Customer Effort as part of a balanced set of metrics
- Harness processes and technology to capture scores
- Introduce agent training to gain acceptance and use
- Monitor, evaluate and implement a process improvement programme
For more information on the impact of customer effort in the customer journey or to read about other hot topics affecting contact centres UK-wide.