Call Center Deflection and KCS Provide a Significant Return on Investment

By: Randy Ross

The Return on Investment factors from implementing call center deflection coupled with Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) principals can be separated into hard and soft savings. Hard savings include increased capacity without the need for additional headcount, increased call deflection, and decreased time to train a new agent. Soft savings are extremely valuable but are more difficult to measure. These include increased customer satisfaction, lower employee attrition rates and improved agent morale. This article will focus on call deflection.

Call Center Deflection

Call deflection occurs when a customer is able to self-solve their support question on a website. The numbers of call deflections can be multiplied by the cost per support call, e.g., $15 -$40 per call loaded cost. A world-class call deflection rate would be 70% – 80% with 30% – 50% being the norm. According to Gartner Inc., Pitney Bowes achieved a 78% call deflection rate in 2006 utilizing search and call deflection technologies implemented by InQuira.

ATG, a KCS verified solution provider says, “An effective Web self-service interaction can be 10 to 20 times less costly than the most efficient agent-enabled phone call. But to reap these savings, your online self-service needs to be more than a FAQ listing or search tool. You need to deliver a service experience that is tailored for your customers as individuals, understands their intent, meets their expectations, and resolves their problems thoroughly and quickly.”

To be successful, call deflection has to be part of a larger knowledge base strategy. The knowledge must be available and searchable in the customer’s own words. Recording support tickets in the customer’s own words is a key tenet of KCS. In the past a call agent listened to the customer’s issue and then recorded it in a technical description. A customer would call in and describe the issue as, “My network card is flaky and does not seem to be working.” The agent would record, “NIC failure.” This terminology can work fine between support agents but will fail miserably for call deflection. The Search engine must be able to locate a solution based on the customer’s input on the website.

As self-service becomes available, it is not uncommon to see an increase in the number of customers seeking support. These are customers that have issues but have been reluctant to deal with support on a phone call. The Consortium for Service Innovation cites HP Invent as a success story for both KCS and call deflection. HP Invent achieved an 80% self-service success. Within a 12 month period they experienced a 4x increase in customer logins with a 7x increase in customer-solved cases.

To maximize ROI, content gaps need to be identified on a continuous basis. This is done using Analytics reports. These reports will identify the search strings where the system could not find an answer or returned a poor match. Leading solution providers such as ATG, InQuira, Knova and Talisma provide extensive reporting options. These include reports such as: Top 100 Questions, Questions with Negative Customer Feedback, Failed Questions and Questions by Product Line. Spending time with these reports will identify trends in customer searches. For example, a Hot Questions report will identify increases month over month for certain question categories. Effort can then be made to increase the solution sets for these areas. This ongoing “tuning” of the system will have significant payback in improved call deflection numbers and customer satisfaction rate.

Depending on call volume, even a 20% call deflection rate can create significant ROI for a support organization. In order to keep customers coming back to your website, focus should be placed on creating a minimum self-solve rate of 50%. Like any Enterprise software project, call deflection requires substantial effort. However, Stone Cobra has found strategic call deflection efforts that can return a positive ROI in as few as 3 months.

KCS is a registered service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation

Author Resource:-> Randy Ross is a Senior Implementation Manager and Process Analyst at Stone Cobra located in Rocklin, California. For further information on KCS, please visit where you may download whitepapers, training materials and join KCS community discussions.

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