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Customer Service Call Center Benchmark Study

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This presentation highlights some best practice players in the world of customer service and call center management; from first time resolution to order up sells. It also goes on to perform a rather ...

This presentation highlights some best practice players in the world of customer service and call center management; from first time resolution to order up sells. It also goes on to perform a rather organizationally specific gap analysis complete with actions steps designed to support a journey of continuous improvement.

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    Customer Service  Call Center Benchmark Study Customer Service Call Center Benchmark Study Presentation Transcript

    • Competitive Benchmark Study:
      Defining a World-Class
      Customer Service Call Center
      Presented By:
      Chris Scafario
    • Getting Started…
      Current State:
      A manufacturer and global distributor of premium-quality hardware for kitchen, coffee, washroom, beverage, and foodservice systems, seeks to improve efficiencies and operations within its regional customer service call center.
    • Getting Started…
      Current State:
      The Company understands that effective customer service is an important means of reinforcing brand equity. As a result this work has been formatted to support and present an optimal call center structure including:
      • Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
      • A move towards full transparency connecting call center
      management in a clear chain of communication with the rest
      of the organization as a whole.
    • Initial Findings….
      • A retail arrangement with Lowes fails to make use of standard technology to streamline ordering .
      • No means of capturing, calculating, or communicating Key Performance Indicators ( No KPIs).
      • A lack of awareness of industry best practices to guide performance improvement .
      • Nonexistent outgoing information flow from customer service to the customers they support .
    • Initial Findings….
      • Need for Improved Organizational Communication.
      • Documentation that is not in an easily searchable form.
      • Confusion as a result of product- and model changes that are not communicated.
      • Unpredictable spare parts inventories.
    • Scope of Our Work….
      In an effort to remedy these shortcomings, DVIRC has collected:
      • A list of companies that are renowned for customer service.
      • An overview of call center best practices.
      • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
      • Call Center Management Job Descriptions.
      • Division-Specific Recommendations.
    • Customer Service Superstars
      L.L.Bean, the Freeport-Maine mail-order giant, has made service excellence and product quality the cornerstones of its operating philosophyand strategy for almost 100 years.
      In terms of product/service scope, consider the fact that the company offers more than 16,000 items, 200 of which it manufacturers itself.
    • Customer Service Superstars
      • L.L.Bean’s reputation for outstanding customer service is primarily built upon its unlimited, “no-questions-asked” return policy—which permits unlimited returns on all items—and for its legendary willingness to perpetually replace the rubber soles of its Maine Hunting Shoe.
    • Customer Service Superstars
      • Customer loyalty is a primary concern for L.L.Bean. As such, call center agents often engage in conversations that are not directly sales-related.
      - It is a way to identify clients’ needs, it is seen as an opportunity to increase brand value. Despite this conversational approach (or perhaps because of it), agents maintain low average order times.
    • Customer Service Superstars
      • L.L.Bean does the bulk of its sales over the phone. Due to this fact, and because the business is largely seasonal, call volumes can exceed 155,000/day during busy periods.
      - In addition, with their heavy reliance on catalogs, (not to mention customers’ tendency to save catalogs for years), the company recently undertook an initiative to expand the functionality of their order-taking software to support more complex inquiry calls.
       
    • Customer Service Superstars
      • The goal of the initiative was to reduce both the number of call transfers, and the amount of training required to handle many of these calls, while continuing to maintain traditionally high customer service and employee satisfaction standards.
      • The result was a redesigned screen layout that focused on design, HTML prototyping, task-based user testing, and reviews with expert users, businesses, and technical team members.
    • Customer Service Superstars
      The redesigned screens had a measurable impact on service, including:
      • Improved customer and employee satisfaction
      • A five-second reduction in average call time
      • A 37% reduction information queue requests
      • A more than 50% reduction in new-user training time
      • A 50% reduction in call center training costs
      L.L.Bean also streamlined its call center by commissioning forecasting models to predict incoming calls so that staffing schedules could be produced farther in advance. The company expects to save $300,000 as a result of the move.
    • Customer Service Superstars
      L.L.Bean refers to the “Customer Service” function as their “Customer Satisfaction” department, effectively underscoring the group’s ultimate goal. President Chris McCormick says that: "Superior customer service has always been and always will be the cornerstone of our brand. . .”
    • Customer Service Superstars
      • The company serves customers with “knowledgeable employees who are highly customer focused.”
      • It’s a matter of quality over quantity. Customer service agents are trained to spend whatever time is necessary to make every customer feel valued.
      - Each service channel has been designed to enable the company’s guarantee of 100% satisfaction.
       
    • Customer Service Superstars
      • The Customer Satisfaction department operates 24 hours a day,
      365 days a year, out of three customer contact centers in Maine.
      - During the peak holiday season in 2009, L.L.Bean employed
      nearly 3,000 customer service representatives. The size of their
      customer satisfaction enterprise is considerably larger than
      the client’s but there are lessons to be learned from the way
      L.L.Bean approaches customer satisfaction……..
    • Lessons From the Superstars…
      • Use what you know to develop long-term relationships.
       - By making customer information easily accessible to frontline service reps, L.L.Bean hopes to enable personalized interactions with customers. Key information elements include:
      Past Purchases
      Returns
      Length of customer/vendor relationship
      Past problems with products or services (if any)
      Type(s) of catalogs received
      Purchase channels (telephone, Internet, store, etc.)
    • Lessons From the Superstars…
      • Technology can have a dramatic impact
      • L.L.Bean undertook a simple screen redesign project. The result will
      help the company to realize significant benefits in terms of cost savings, overall service impression, and employee and customer satisfaction.
      - The Client has a similar opportunity to leverage technology to replace
      outdated processes and possibly enjoy similar service improvements.
    • Lessons From the Superstars…
      “Every employee can affect your company’s brand.
      We decided that we wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best customer experience.
      We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department, it should be the entire company.”
    • Lessons From the Superstars…
      Zappos boasts 10 core values that define
      the company culture. They are as follows:
      Deliver WOW through service
      Embrace and drive change
      Create fun and a little weirdness
      Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
      Pursue growth and learning
      Build open and honest relationships with communication
      Build a positive team and family spirit
      Do more with less
      Be passionate and determined
      Be humble
    • Lessons From the Superstars…
      Zappos views the phone experience as a branding device and urges customers to call about nearly everything. Their call center takes 5,000 calls per day, and employees work independent of scripts, quotas, or call time limits. The longest call to date has been four hours.
       
    • Lessons From the Superstars…
      Zappos made a deliberate decision to redirect its marketing budget towards delivering exceptional customer service with a great company culture, in hopes that the move would help the business to thrive where others had failed.
       
      To that; every new hire—spends four weeks handling calls as a customer-service rep and one week in the Kentucky warehouse before starting work.
       
      Zappos is also one of the many call centers turning to cloud computing technology and social media networking to increase the amount and efficiency of interdepartmental communication.
       
    • Lessons from the Superstars:
      Go long…
      • Zappos’ customer-service employees are not encouraged to keep calls short.
      • They are encouraged to essentially take ownership of the call, spending whatever time and effort are necessary to ensure a positive outcome.
    • Lessons from the Superstars:
      The client’s goal in the case of the customer
      service center is to create an environment in
      Which representatives are encouraged to have
      customer service conversations. Giving these
      interactions time to unfold will be a key part of
      this transition.
    • Southwest’s customer service department is "proactive,” with workers taught to anticipate dissatisfaction and act preemptively.
      Every passenger on a significantly delayed flight, for example, receives a letter of apology. In severe cases, they go so far as to toss in coupons.
      .
      Lessons from the Superstars:
      • Integrating Technology…..Southwest created a custom graphical user interface, using Java Swing components, that allows individuals to review every alert before it is sent out and customize the message that will be fed into their Varolii text-to-speech engine.
      Southwest has chosen to inject a little human judgment into the process.
      Lessons from the Superstars:
      • Anticipate problems & act accordingly...
      Southwest’s anticipation strategy extends to an automatic call system that alerts customers about cancellations and gate changes.
      Lessons from the Superstars:
    • Lessons from the Superstars:
      • To the client, late shipments are directly analogous to Southwest’s delayed flights. Taking a cue from the airline, we see that an excellent way to resolve problems is to anticipate them and head them off.
      • If the cleint’s customer service division can coordinate with shipping, they will be able to first identify shipments that will miss their due dates and then react to that knowledge in the form of a phone call (preferred) or email to the customer alerting them to the delay.
    • Lessons from the Superstars:
      West Chester, PA -based QVC was recently recognized as a top-10 retailer for customer service.
      With daily live broadcasts to 84 million households in the U.S. and another 40+ million overseas, nearly $4 billion in sales, 133 million calls answered and 92 million packages shipped in 2009, QVC is very, very big business.
    • Lessons from the Superstars:
      Communicate….Gary Ormont, QVC's vice president of operations, says that the company places high importance on fostering an environment in which call center agents feel comfortable with their coworkers.
      “Customer service is only as good as those who deliver it,” he says. “We're really employee-sensitive. Our people interact on a first-name basis, andwe have constant teamwork, communication, and numerous roundtables and forum meetings at which we discuss issues and trends.”
    • Lessons from the Superstars:
      • Just as important for the client is the matter of communication between call center staff and corporate managers.
      • Client call center representatives play a key role in forming customers’ perceptions about the client, its brand promise, and the status of the enterprise as a whole.
      • It is imperative that those charged with brand development at Frankepay close attention to those on the front lines.
       
    • Lessons from the Superstars:
      • The cleint is a premium brand with prices that correspond to that high level of quality. Management must take an active role in educating customer service representatives in the proper terminology, and the correct way of replying to customers/guiding the conversations into areas that will enable the agent to offer solutions.
    • Lessons from the Superstars:
      Conclusions…
      • The general lessons learned from these enterprises can have a direct relevance to the client’s stated goal of improving customer service performance and leveraging that superior service in order to provide high-end customer experiences and develop a stronger brand identity.
      • In the following section, we will outline call center best practices and show the specific ways that each can be used to move the client’s service offering to a point that more closely reflects the company’s “premium product” brand position.
    • Best of Best Practices
    • Best of Best Practices
      • The first step in the transformation to an efficient call center is to
      understand the best practices associated with its operation. They are:
      Develop a customer access strategy
      Employ targeted, strategic training
      Measure the effectiveness of that training
      Use call center reps as idea collectors and sales agents
      Consider implementing a balanced scorecard
      Monitor social networking sites
      Use call center agents to keep mailing/contact lists up-to-date
    • Best of Best Practices
      • A. Develop a customer access strategy… A tailored customer access strategy consists of a set of standards or guidelines, and processes that define the ways customers can access information. Although these strategies can take many different forms, most cover the following components:
      Customer Segmentation: Summarize how current customers and prospects are segmented (e.g., by geography, demographics, volume of business, or unique requirements) and how the client will serve each segment.
    • Best of Best Practices
      • A. Develop a customer access strategy… Although these strategies can take many different forms, most cover the following components:
      Contact types: Anticipate and identify major types of interactions that will occur, such as placing orders, changing orders, answering inquiries, providing technical support, etc. Each type of interaction should be analyzed for opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
    • Best of Best Practices
      • A. Develop a customer access strategy… Although these strategies can take many different forms, most cover the following components:
      Hours of operation: Identify hours of operation, outlining how they may vary for different contact channels or customer segments. Decisions will be driven by cost and service considerations defined in the plan.
      Service level: Summarize the organization's service level (the percentage of calls answered within a predetermined period of time, generally 80% in 30 seconds) and response time objectives.
    • Best of Best Practices
      • A. Develop a customer access strategy… Although these strategies can take many different forms, most cover the following components:
      People/technology resources required: This step marks the transition from proper call/email/other request routing to the deployment of agents and systems needed for each customer segment and contact type.
      Information required: Perhaps the most important part of the plan, this segment outlines the customer and product information that must be available to agents.
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • B. Employ targeted, strategic training …Considering the amount of visibility that call center agents have with customers, it is critical that all agents be trained properly in order to minimize the differences in productivity between new and experienced employees. Training will help agents to understand:
      Their role within the business structure;
      What their performance means to the organization as a whole;
      The ways they can contribute to sales and customer service goals;
      How their customer interactions help to deliver on the brand promise;
      What they are supposed to do; and
      Why their job is important.
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • C.Use call center reps as sales agents and idea collectors…Some of the best productand service ideas come from customers. Call center agents, have the most direct contact with your customers and are ideally situated to spot these innovative ideas.
      Management also consider spending some time with the staff of the call center. This tactic has a twofold benefit: first, by putting senior staff in direct contact with customers and call center agents, they will gain fist-hand, in-the-trenches knowledge of the ways this function operates—as well as the ways it should not operate. Second, having higher-ups working alongside the service representatives will show the latter just how important their job is, and possibly inspire them to better understand the ways they serve the greater corporate goals.
       
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • C.Use call center reps as sales agents and idea collectors… Management also consider spending some time with the staff of the call center. This tactic has a twofold benefit:
      First, by putting senior staff in direct contact with customers and call center agents, they will gain fist-hand, in-the-trenches knowledge of the ways this function operates—as well as the ways it should not operate.
      Second, having higher-ups working alongside the service representatives will show the latter just how important their job is, and possibly inspire them to better understand the ways they serve the greater corporate goals.
       
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • D. Capture customer feedback…You must remember to capture customer feedback through any channel that customers can use to interact with your organization. With this feedback captured, it should be passed along to those who are in a position to act on it.
      •  E. Monitor social networking sites….Considering the ease with which dissatisfied customers can publicize their experiences in the marketplace, it is a customer service best practice to monitor complaints on social networking sites. Whether or not those complaints are valid is largely irrelevant; just as in the blogosphere, perception in the social networking space is reality, and there are endless examples of companies that have been embarrassed—publicly and virally—as a result of poor customer service.
       
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • F. Use call center agents to keep mailing/contact lists up-to-date…If the client plans to build a mailing list for the distribution of eNewsletters or similar active communications, call center agents are in an excellent position to capture phone and email information, along with permission to send promotional emails.
      This information can also be used to update customers on order delivery status and push content regarding new products and services.
       
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • G. Consider implementing a balanced scorecard… In a call center environment where a number of key performance indicators are captured, it may be helpful to pursue the “Balanced Scorecard” approach.
      The balanced scorecard is a means helping managers focus on those performance metrics that most directly lead to success. Rather than measuring strictly financial outcomes, in this case we will focus the human issues that drive successful customer service outcomes as a means of improving brand identity.
       
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • G. Consider implementing a balanced scorecard…
      Identify the Key Performance Indicators to be measured
      Determine the weighting (expressed as a percentage) for each KPI.
      Establish the upper- and lower performance levels; these may come from benchmarking of peer groups, similar businesses, internal historic date, etc.
      Collect internal call center data for each metric
      Calculate the Metric Score: (worst case – actual) / (worst case – best case) x 100
      Calculate the Balanced Score: (Metric Score x Weighting)
       
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • G. Consider implementing a balanced scorecard…
       
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      • G. Consider implementing a balanced scorecard…
       
       
    • Best of Best Practices
      Conclusion….
      The specific best practices listed above hold a great deal of promise for the client. As effective, proven means of structuring the call center operation in a way that reflects the overall brand promise, enables a premium customer experience, and outlines ways that the call center operation can serve both business- and branding goals, these are each applicable to future improvement efforts in the call center.
       
      In the next section, we will learn more about the metrics that will allow the client to measure performance in the six areas that most effectively track performance in critical areas.
       
       
       
    • Call Center KPIs
      • Effective Integration of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)…Call center operations include a unique set of activities that are defined by the responsibilities and challenges associated with after-sales service related to management, technology, and staffing.
      By structuring a clear, frequent mechanism for measuring relevant KPIs, the client will have a tracking tool that addresses each of the important areas in the form of indicators, to which you can assign upper- and lower “target” performance figures.
       
       
       
       
    • Call Center KPIs
      Effective Integration of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)…Gauging KPIS through s “balanced score” will enable the client to continually:
       Monitor call center efficiency
      Track agent effectiveness;
      Perform targeted performance-improvement training where needed; and
      Ensure that the call center performance is serving larger corporate brand-development and business goals.
       
       
       
    • Call Center KPIs
      • Effective Integration of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)…Although dozens of possible KPIs exist, DVIRC has identified six that we believe will give the client a simple way to initiate a scoring system that is simultaneously effective and uncomplicated.
       
       
    • Call Center KPIs
      • Effective Integration of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)…Although dozens of possible KPIs exist, DVIRC has identified six that we believe will provide a simple way to initiate a scoring system that is simultaneously effective and uncomplicated.
      1. Service Level and Average Speed of Answer (ASA)…Service level is usually defined as the percentage of calls answered within a predetermined number of seconds. For example, a Service Level target of 80/20 indicates that you seek to answer 80% of all calls within 20 seconds (approximately 5-6 rings). Service Level is impacted (positively) by agents’ ability to answer calls faster than the designated time limit.
       
       
    • Call Center KPIs
      • Effective Integration of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)…Although dozens of possible KPIs exist, DVIRC has identified six that we believe will provide a simple way to initiate a scoring system that is simultaneously effective and uncomplicated.
      2. First Call Resolution….First Call Resolution (FCR) is a relatively new metric. Expressed as a percentage, this is the proportion of calls that are resolved without the need for either escalation (sending the call to a more senior operator) or callback. Note: Benchmark values for FCR will vary with the complexity of calls handled.
       
       
       
    • Call Center KPIs
      • Effective Integration of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)…Although dozens of possible KPIs exist, DVIRC has identified six that we believe will provide a simple way to initiate a scoring system that is simultaneously effective and uncomplicated.
      3. Abandon Rate (aka “Customer Loss Rate”)…The Abandon Rate, expressed as a percentage, is the number of calls that hang up before connecting to an agent (not including those calls that receive a busy signal).
      4.  Average Talk Time (ATT)
      5. After Call Work (ACW)
      6. Average Handle Time (AHT) (aka Resolve Time)
       
       
       
    • Effective Management Job Description Suggestions 
      • Call center managers, given their role on the leading edge of customer communication and in-depth product/service knowledge, have a unique position within companies like the client.
      With this blend of knowledge and market expertise, it is important to leverage call center managers to filter trend data, serve as a conduit for that information, and have a finger on the pulse of relevant call center metrics. Furthermore, each of these responsibilities must be guided by the client’s stated aim to develop a call center that promotes a positive brand identity and enables superior call experiences.
       
       
       
    • Effective Management Job Description Suggestions 
      • Call center managers, given their role on the leading edge of customer communication and in-depth product/service knowledge, have a unique position within companies such like the client.
      With this blend of knowledge and market expertise, it is important to leverage call center managers to filter trend data, serve as a conduit for that information, and have a finger on the pulse of relevant call center metrics. Furthermore, each of these responsibilities must be guided by the client’s stated aim to develop a call center that promotes a positive brand identity and enables superior call experiences.
       
       
       
    • Effective Management Job Description Suggestions 
      • Overarching Call Center Responsibilities….In the crush of incoming calls, it is all too easy to either ignore the management best practices that will drive the call center to succeed, or collect data without circulating the findings.
      In many cases, companies believe that their customer service is better than it really is. A recent survey by Bain & Company, which included the customers of 362 companies, yielded some startling results. While 80% of the customer surveyed described their customer service as “superior,” just 8% of customers agreed with them.
       
       
       
    • Effective Management Job Description Suggestions 
      • Overarching Call Center Responsibilities….Clearly, call center performance is not something that a company can hope to assess objectively without a champion to drive the various processes within the department. The following primary responsibilities should fall to the center manager:
       
      1) Managing center staffing and personnel issues;
      2) Collecting and analyzing balanced scorecard data;
      3) Gathering and reporting on product damage/failure rates;
      4) Coordinating staff education and training;
      5) Developing and implementing cross-department communication; and
      6) Evaluating and recommending software additions/upgrades for more
      effective call center operation.
       
       
       
    • Effective Management Job Description Suggestions 
      • 1) Staffing and Personnel Responsibilities…These duties include the standard managerial roles as defined by the client’s senior management.
      • 2) Scorecard Responsibilities...
      -Establishing metrics to be included in the scorecard;
      -Determining the weighted importance of each metric;
      -Benchmarking the selected metrics against a standard determined by Franke;
      -Tracking actual performance;
      -Calculating the Metric- and Balanced scores; and
      -Communicating the resulting performance figures to the appropriate parties.
       
       
       
    • Effective Management Job Description Suggestions 
      • 3)Gathering/Reporting on Product Failures…The manager should be charged with the collection of data on product failures.
      • 4) Coordinate Staff Training…Themanager’s primary responsibility with regard to training will be to assess and rank team members in order to facilitate effective training (see page 19 re: Independents, Strivers, etc.)
      • 5) Develop/Implement Cross-Departmental Communication
      As a back-end portion of the product failure role, the manager should convene regular meetings with call center staff (to educate them on products, revisions, engineering changes, etc.), and engineering/technical support in order to coordinate regular updates of the product drawings, parts lists, bills of materials, etc. used by the call center agents.
       
       
       
    • Effective Management Job Description Suggestions 
      • 6) Recommend Software Upgrades/Additions… The center manager’s day-to-day familiarity with the challenges and opportunities that exist within various call center departments make them the most logical choice to: a) determine whether or not additional software is needed, b) weigh the options available, and c) make a recommendation regarding the purchase of new software. - Please Refer to Supporting List
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      The Luxury Division….
      The Client’s luxury support division—the department that has potentially the most to lose through subpar customer support and interaction—has a number of responsibilities that can be improved by a bit of automation.
       
      With representatives from this department taking ownership of orders from their entry point and manually guiding them through the confirmation of customer status, bill to-, ship-to, and other required information, price, order release, and return of order acknowledgement, a number of opportunities to automate become apparent.
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      The Luxury Division….
      • Concern: Handwritten order notes can be inconsistent.
      •  Recommendation: Create a shared database to enable direct entry. Team with retail customer support to brainstorm a list of possible comments that apply to various aspects of the order. Program these as drop-down menu choices in order to standardize the options available.
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      The Luxury Division….
      • Concern: Agents must compare customer names to a manual lookup table in order to identify/confirm direct customers.
      • Recommendation: A searchable, network-accessible table with a list of all direct customers will dramatically reduce the amount of time required for this step. Note: In order to preserve the integrity of the list while still allowing regular updates, management must coordinate with luxury customer service management to determine appropriate permissions for write-access to the file.
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      The Luxury Division….
      • Concern: Corporate sales forms lack email addresses
      • Recommendation: Include email addresses as a “required information” field on new order forms. Instruct agents to ask customers for both email addresses (in order to notify them of changes in delivery status) and permission to include the customer on an eNewsletter list.
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      The Luxury Division….
      • Concern: Manual commission code lookups add unnecessary time to After Call Work.
      • Recommendation: Delegate offline lookups to an intern/administrative assistant-level employee who can aid multiple customer service representatives at one time, avoiding the need for CSRs to break focus and move (physically and psychologically) from the phone bank.
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      The Luxury Division….
      • Concern: Customer service representatives are being asked to make shipping payment decisions (prepaid vs. collect).
      • Recommendation: A simple matrix of allowable freight charges (differentiated by product type and/or model) will allow CSRs to make informed decisions. This approach will also give an opportunity to control shipping-associated costs. Note: This solution will also benefit the tech. support and retail/customer support departments.
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      The Luxury Division….
      • Concern: The online faucet ordering function does not list all models currently for sale.
      • Recommendation: The Client should include a marketing/web development representative as part of cross-departmental meetings. As new models are brought online and/or removed from the product roster, marketing should be coordinating with the internal (or third-party) web development team to make sure the site does not offer faucets that are no longer for sale, and vice versa.
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Technical Support….
      The Client’s Technical Support group handles warranty issues (including lifetime warranty support for some of the company’s luxury items). In this role, they confirm that inbound calls should be handled by tech. support, answer questions, provide parts as necessary, and talk customers through the repair/replacement processes.
      Technical support call center agents struggle with a lack of communication between product design/marketing departments, as product changes and new specs are not always explained adequately to those who are expected to support those products. The resulting miscommunication manifests through confusion regarding parts availability, and a lack of inventory from which to replace/repair existing models.
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Technical Support….
      Concern: A recent vendor switch resulted in supply shortages for many spare parts. Technical support sometimes has no choice but to a) disassemble faucets from inventory supply and send parts to customers, or b) replace whole faucets because spares are not available.
       
      Recommendation: The Client was ill-advised to switch vendors without a contingency plan for either stocking sufficient spares or maintaining a supply chain for parts to service product in the field. In a competitive environment—particularly one in which the client needs to maintain a brand image that is in alignment with its price point.
       
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Technical Support….
      Concern: Paper-based change documentation—collected in binders only—is frequently incorrect; product family-based troubleshooting procedures should be available online
       
      Recommendation: Create an interactive, searchable, online document library to replace hard copies. Documents should be: a) verified as correct by engineering prior to publication, b) subject to strict document control practices, c) labeled with part numbers and descriptions, and d) offer users the ability to view parts with mouse-over.
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Technical Support….
      Concern: Replacement parts and drawings are not available/CSRs are not aware of new products prior to launch.
       
      Recommendation: Regular meetings between call center staff and engineering/product development should include every effort to make new documentation available (in a searchable, .pdf or other online format) at the time of product launch.
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Technical Support….
      Concern: Product manuals and parts trends are available in printed format only (see binder comment above), not searchable/trackable online.
       
      Recommendation: DVIRC recommends that the responsibility for gathering/tracking and reporting part failures, tech support trends, etc. fall under the job description of the call center manager. By collecting this raw data in a network-accessible spreadsheet (or other means), the data will become readily available to those with read access to the file.
       
      .
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Technical Support….
      Concern: Delivery delays are not proactively communicated to customers.
       
      Recommendation: This concern in particular runs counter to efforts to enhance the brand identity and build a culture of world-class service and support. As discussed in the Luxury Division recommendations, an opportunity exists to task an administrative assistant-level employee with the responsibility to gather shipment date changes (whether querying an online database or communicating offline with shipping) and distribute that information to CSRs who can update customers accordingly.
       
       
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Retail Customer Support…
      In addition to routine EDI order handling for non-Lowe’s retail orders, the Retail/Customer Support Division is responsible for handling incoming “Lowe’s Link” orders (as many as 200 on Mondays). This task includes printing new orders and cancellations, checking stock to confirm/correct delivery dates, entering, printing, and acknowledging orders, and fielding calls from Lowe’s associates regarding tracking information.
       
       
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Additional Recommendations:
      Despite the fact that the retail/customer service, luxury, and technical support call centers are separate entities, they should strive to work as a team across locations, they should hold regular cross-team summits in order to share best practices and encourage the sharing of ideas. This will be especially helpful once the marketing survey initiative is underway; as the individuals with actual phone contact with customers, call center agents will have unique perspective on the issues. They may be able to shed additional light on the data collected by the surveys.
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Additional Recommendations:
      Avoid excessive printing; as a matter of policy, CSRs should be instructed to print only those orders that require a signature to confirm prepaid shipping or other special exceptions. Order acknowledgements should be sent by email whenever possible.
       
       
       
       
       
    • Closing Recommendations  
      Additional Recommendations:
      Avoid excessive printing; as a matter of policy, CSRs should be instructed to print only those orders that require a signature to confirm prepaid shipping or other special exceptions. Order acknowledgements should be sent by email whenever possible.
       
       
       
       
       
    • THE END
       
       
       
      Thank You