7 Calamities of Call Centre Insights

We recently completed an analytics project for a major insurer, and in that process learned a number of key lessons regarding insights gained in call centres. Many of these lessons were validating our research findings that we discovered through the development of our Customer Experience and Retention White Paper which was published in May this year.

As a medical doctor who has now moved into the business of ‘healing’ organizations, I found that you can check on the pulse of an organization through the behaviour of front line staff and the interactions within an organisation’s call centre. In many ways the call centre is much like the skin of the human body, being the major touch point with the external environment of an organization.

In conducting our work, there are 7 key issues we found that limited the ability of call centres to serve its customers, particularly from an insights perspective. Here are some of our findings or ‘calamities’ as we call them.

1.   The vast majority of all call centre analytics and KPI’s are quantitative, leaving out the ‘WHY’ customers behave the way they do. They also often leave out the ‘WHY’ these problems are occurring and recurring, thereby missing the opportunities on how to solve them with more targeted customer experience solutions.

2.   Existing qualitative categorization of calls is largely basic and only mention a top line reason for the call e.g. ‘Billing’. Front-line staff do not have the time to record any deeper reasoning e.g. ‘Billing delay, fraud, refund requested, wrong billing, bill not paid, etc’.

3.   Reasons for the call are merely structured to one or two high levels only and not distilled into sub themes or root causes of customer issues. An example may be that billing delay was due to website down-time on that day due to a virus attack.

4.   Call centre teams cannot easily identify actionable insights that arise from customer frustrations, contradictions, conflicts, and interrelationships between causes. They are too busy trying to deal with the immediate issue, with immediate tools are their disposable.

5.   Call centre agents are not always incentivised to make improvements within the centre particularly with an outsourcing centres, which can influence customer feedback loops. Whilst this is not always the case, some call centres are not incentivised to reduce call volumes to achieve efficiencies.

6.   Frontline agents have variable understanding of codes, often leading to inconsistent coding amongst them.

7.   Voice-to-text tools can be useful however many are limited by their transcription accuracy and ability to analyse the depth of insights from customer conversations. For example, a 80% transcription accuracy rate (which may seem high), could still translate to “Hello, I am calling about my will (bill) which I received late (eight) days ago’.

What we’ve discovered is that these above limitations can severely limit the organization’s ability to respond and improve customer experience and get to the root cause of why customers are leaving them. Often manual labour is extensively required in the form of consultants or internal staff to analyse this issues and solve the problems.

In our learnings from this project as well as Customer Experience and Retention White Paper, we have found that tools like Pensensic are able to as attain deep insights from customer conversations by analysing the conversation in a text format and ascertaining the root cause in an automated fashion. This saves time, money, frustrations on behalf of frontline staff and customers as well as provides senior management with a more targeted approach to solving customer issues.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether you’ve come across the above 7 issues in your experience with customer call centres.

Future Solutions in Customer Experience and Retention for Private Health Insurance

The ‘Future Solutions in Customer Experience for Health Insurers White Paper’ is a research paper developed to help Australian health insurers deliver greater customer experience and customer retention. This White Paper is aimed for CEO’s, General Managers, marketers, sales and customer service leaders as well as analysts, policymakers and researchers in the industry. It is a ‘how to’ guide for getting closer to the consumer from a more complete, holistic perspective in order to drive strategic and tactical decisions.

Insights in this Paper were compiled from analysis of in-depth interviews and presentations from representatives of 10 Australian Private Health Insurance companies. Australia now has a relatively mature Private Health Insurance industry with over 11 million members and over $21bn in annual revenue in 2015. However, industry growth occurs in an evolving Australian market, which is increasingly complex. Consumers have to choose between over 17,000 different policies currently available for sale and over 25,000 policies currently in the market.

 Download the White Paper

Lapse rates can rise to over 20% of customers with some insurers (13). This equates to lost revenue (or switching of sales) exceeding $2bn per annum from lapses of an estimated 940,000 members up to 2014. These considerably high lapse rates have a significant financial impact on insurers due to the relatively tight net profit margins of most funds. In addition, insurers and customers waste a significant amount of time negotiating and resolving issues related to poor purchasing and claims experiences.

Applying a Systems Thinking approach to this complex, problem, we find a Vicious Cycle occurring in the industry in relation to customer retention and experience. From the consolidated analysis of contributor interviews, the real reason for poor customer experiences can be summarised into these 4 major themes. These include customer perceptions of confusion and lack of value, regulatory and competitive forces, sub-optimal systems, processes and data management as well as health system dynamics.

Following the analysis of interviews with industry experts, themes of solutions were consolidated. The solution model must also be robust, resilient to unpredictability and enable an organization to learn over time. In short, its execution must be a ‘Virtuous Cycle’ of CX Solutions, which is as follows:

  1. Define & Refine CX with Vision, Strategy and Objectives
  2. Align Leadership and Culture with Change Management
  3. Implement Systems and Capabilities to support CX
  4. Translate Perceptions into CX Insights & Priorities
  5. Apply CX strategically across portfolio, product design and marketing channels
  6. Extend CX across healthcare ecosystem

For some organisations, the implementation of all these solutions may take months to years and significant financial investment. As such, for those organizations that are time poor and can only do ONE THING to begin moving in the right direction, it would be to start understanding their customer perceptions much better than they are doing now. Every step of the Virtuous Cycle is largely defined by having deep psycho-emotional insights into customer perceptions. It all begins with the customer in mind, or rather ‘the customers mind’.