Datatronics is an organization that serves their customers with Enterprise Resource Planning integrated solutions. Their growth is mainly attributed to acquisitions of smaller competitors. E-Z RP was such a company that despite its inferior size compared to Datatronics was able to succeed and outperform Datatronics on grounds of customer service and customer satisfaction. Datatronics recognized the fact and acquired E-Z RP with the aim to improve in that respective area.
Just as it is the case with most acquisitions, job uncertainty at E-Z RP came into question when the acquisition was announced, however, all of the employees were able to remain employed. The issue was that most of the positions E-Z RP staff were holding at E-Z RP were no longer in demand and so they were rather integrated into the Datatronics culture based on the corporation’s needs rather than what the individuals were trained to do and what they do best.
Matt, who was the head of the E-Z RP development team, lost his position through the acquisition and was appointed to manage the Datatronics customer service center instead – a calling he wouldn’t know much about. After observing the Datatronics customer service center as the newly appointed manager, despite his inexperience in this field, he quickly noticed deficiencies, which he openly brought forward to his new boss, CIO Joel McGivern. Joel was cautious about the idea of improving customer service through increased spending, however, he was receptive to the idea that improvements need to be made.
Following is a SWOT analysis of Datatronics as an organization in general and the way they currently operate. Handling of the acquisition and Datatronics’ new environment was taken into consideration while the analysis was performed. Strengths: •Financial power •Wide range of products •Newly acquired power of knowledge on how to improve customer service •Sound acquisition decisions through clear vision on valueWeaknesses: •Poorly trained (bad) customer service (contradictory responses to customer inquiries) •No user friendly or intuitive products
•Inflexible products •Poorly managed acquisition integration •Little to no interest on customer needs •IVR system poorly configured and maintained •Little to no opportunities to excel on the job and get promoted •Poorly designed website and thus tool for CSR’s to serve their customers with accurate and timely information •No means for CSR’s to offer suggestions back to development teams Opportunities:
•Leave development teams separated by product and specifically trained for those products •Separate customer service into product groups and train them targeting a specific product •Lower wait time through improved routing through effective use of the IVR (Pamela) •Integrate and unify the web site design for all productsThreats: •Customers turn their business to competitors •Outsourced customer service call center •High employee turnover •Reduced customer service budget induced by pressure to reduce prices to remain competitive
Recommendation I would certainly recommend separating the development and the customer service teams into specific product groups. By doing so, CSR’s would have a higher focus on specific products and would essentially have a greater chance in becoming experts in supporting those through more targeted training and education. Now that teams are revolving around specific products, there is a great opportunity to optimize call routing by which customer wait times are going to be drastically reduced.
Along the way, customers will stand a greater chance of getting in touch with the customer service representative who can provide them with superb and expert advice. Finally, there is a great opportunity to offload some of the calls that pertain to frequently asked questions to the company website. In order to achieve this, the web site will need to be redesigned and unified across all product groups. That will allow the customers to obtain most of the information they need without calling the customer service center.
Case Questions 1. Outline the specific information that Matt should collect to build a case for improving customer service at Datatronics. 2. Describe your top ideas for Matt to present to Joel next week. 3. How would Matt get Joel to support his ideas? 1. In order to improve customer service at Datatronics Matt will need to present a solid case in which he should consider the following items: •How many customer service representatives are working in the Datatronics call center?
•What is their current knowledge of the products and what are some of the areas they will need to catch up on? •How much time does a CSR spend on a single call on average? How many calls end up unresolved with the first call? •What is the potential for reducing that time through improved education of CSR’s? •How is the training being conducted on existing reps and new hires currently and how much time exactly is being allocated to that activity?
•Provide a means for customers to provide feedback after calls to acquire their satisfaction score on the overall service experience and allow them to point to areas that need improvement oInformation must be allowed to be fed back to the individual development teams to allow for controls to be put in place for product improvement •Conduct anonymous CSR survey about working conditions and their own satisfaction levels along with an opportunity to provide ideas for improvement •What tools do they have at their disposal to serve their customers?
How familiar are they with those? •How long does it take for a call to get through the IVR system and to the CSR on average? Does a customer have the option to bypass the IVR entirely and get to the CSR instantly? •Are there any monitoring tapes that can be reviewed for weaknesses in the service calls that can be improved upon? •Do the CSR’s have a means to keep track of calls to be able to pull up details for previous calls? •Do major customers have assigned direct contacts that handle their accounts exclusively?
2. Essentially a lot of the ideas I personally would like to see implemented to elevate the level of customer service satisfaction are already presented in the process of gathering the correct information to prepare the case. I see enormous opportunities on improvement in two areas, which are call processing time and product knowledge. In more ways than one, those are closely related, however, there are separate respective areas of development necessary to improve on each.
First of all, we absolutely need to make sure that each member of our call center staff is properly trained and specifically proficient on a designated product. This means that each member of the call center staff should take responsibility for one product only for which I suggest separate call center groups should be established. This will provide for a more organized call center structure and improved product knowledge while at the same time reducing the time necessary to train an individual.
To ensure that calls are properly routed to the right customer service representatives at all times, the IVR system (Pamela) will need to be reconfigured by allowing the customer to select the product they are calling about upon which they will be immediately routed to the designated team with the specific knowledge necessary to provide distinctly exceptional customer service. Ideally, we would want to physically restructure the call center into designated sections by product groups to provide for better manageability as well.
When it comes to knowledge of the product, there is no room for cutbacks. Customer service representatives should be trained through an extensive initial and ongoing training program that will be tailored to their product responsibility area. Through that training regimen, they should gain some basic knowledge about other products as well to account for situations in which they might get questioned about products they are not directly responsible for.
Training should also cover aspects other than product knowledge such as the basics of customer service and proper treatment of customers. After finalizing the calls, customers should have the ability to leave anonymous feedback to offer suggestions on improvement in their customer service experience and products, which need to be thoroughly respected and observed. In pursuit to increase customer satisfaction and at the same time lighten the load on the call center, I see great potential in the ability to satisfy most matters customers are calling about through our website.
Through redesign of the website to have a more unified look across all product groups and to be more user-friendly and more informative, I am very confident that the number of calls our call center would receive with this technology in place would be cut back. We could extend this idea to greater lengths by incorporating social media and a real-time chat feature through which many of our customers would be able to satisfy their requests through live responses from our CSR’s.
We all know that memorizing material is inefficient and often impossible given the amount of information that CSR’s are dealing with on a daily basis. This is where their tools come into play and represent an integral part of their every-day operation. It is the effectiveness of those tools that could be the difference between a mediocre and excellent customer service experience. This is why it is immensely important that the current tools be reviewed for intuitiveness and effectiveness.
After all, those are exactly the problems Datatronics’ own products are experiencing and, therefore, there should be no reason to believe that the software they chose to use in the call center is any better in that respect. I would like to provide a means for the call center service representatives to be able to not just answer to the questions customers ask, but also establish a connection by assigning an account number to each customer and record the matters that were discussed during each call in a central database.
This is truly vital in terms of customer satisfaction. We do not want to have customers call the center having to explain what they talked about in a previous call. By having the customer accounts updated with the matters that were discussed in previous calls, representatives will be able to serve them much better and understand their concerns much more quickly, again potentially cutting the call time substantially. By having a call record to fall back on, our CSR’s will feel that their jobs are more enjoyable and the impression on customers will definitely improve.
Routing of calls is also an important piece of the puzzle to improve upon. Under the current regime, the routing system makes very little sense as all CSR’s are taking calls supporting the entire line of their products, thereby, making the routing feature almost obsolete. With the new improved physical structure and by segregating the call center staff into individual groups, calls could effectively be routed to the teams of interest and with the best knowledge about the products customers are inquiring about.
Through improved call routing, not only will the customers receive better quality service by CSR’s who are knowledgeable in their respective areas, but the wait times will also be reduced dramatically as separate call waiting queues will now be intelligently set up for each CSR section. Besides, the routing will need to be set up in the simplest way possible, allowing the customer to get through to the desired CSR with two key strokes at the most. Along with that, customers should at any point be able to bypass the routing mechanism and dial ‘zero’ to talk to an agent.
Finally, we absolutely cannot afford to have top-level customers who are in contact with the organization on a daily basis go through our regular phone system routing mechanism. That would be a very inefficient approach that could create unnecessary bottlenecks. Instead, there should be designated account managers who will be handling those top-level accounts exclusively and provide a means for those customers to directly call their designated contacts at Datatronics.
This change is absolutely crucial in pursuit to improve existing customer relations and for customers to come. It will demonstrate transformed respect, dedication and appreciation I believe Datatronics’ customers deserve to have. They will certainly feel and welcome that change, which can only strengthen the relationship from here going on forward. 3. Matt has his record essentially speak for him. His ideas are not just made up, but are proven to work in a real life environment, which he was able to prove at E-Z RP.
Matt’s ideas might require some initial investment to first and foremost get the CSR’s properly trained and to improve on some key areas of the call center operation that were suggested. Some of the suggestions such as the reconfiguration of Pamela to route calls properly and redesign of the company website might not even require much of funding, yet the benefits derived from making those adjustments would lead to much greater ventures and potentially a larger customer base in the near future along with the potential to save some costs through reduced call volume as well.
Just by listening to call-monitoring tapes, a wealth of information can be extracted such as CSR’s performance and training focus requirements, which in turn will help to drive the call center performance up and reduce callbacks and save costs incurred by the company. All those efforts would lead to an increased customer satisfaction most significantly, through which the customer base is very likely to expand. That in turn would deliver more revenue to the business and satisfied customers that will continue to conduct business with Datatronics and will have no reason to look elsewhere.
Matt as the newly appointed manager of customer service needs to ensure to his boss Joel that the ideas that he brings forward will not just be implemented on the fly without much thought given. This is a process of innovation and as such requires certain steps to be followed meticulously. New ideas must be noted first. This long list of ideas then needs to go through a proof of concept stage in which only a few ideas that make the most business sense would survive.
This will be an assignment for specific teams who are appointed to each idea. In addition, a suggestion would be to establish a small CSR test group which will serve as the pilot team for the transition process. This is a crucial part of the transition as it is at this stage that sustainable ideas would actually get tested in the real world environment and out on the market. During pilot testing, important metrics will be noted and analyzed which include financial points and operational impacts which have been induced by the change.
Finally, ideas that have been successfully tested through the pilot program will enter the transition stage. It is only at this stage that the ideas actually go into a full development cycle and actual implementation. The transition from Datatronics’ current customer service center to the innovative design that is yet to come should be allowed sufficient time to be implemented by focusing on achievable targets and ensuring that the newly designed customer service center is not rushed to the market without proper and extensive positive feedback they can rely on.