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The Effortless Experience: Implementing Next Issue Avoidance

In this series, Dave Galloway is diving into the concept of the Effortless Experience, a customer service framework that limits customer effort in each interaction. This method is composed of four key pillars: channel flexibility, next issue avoidance, engineered experiences and an empowered front-line staff. In this article, Dave looks at a few tactics to help you create an effortless experience by limiting follow-on calls.

You’ve probably heard about common call centre metrics like average handle time and first contact resolution. Traditional service organizations use these key performance indicators to track efficiency by ensuring the reporting drives agents to quickly work through cases. Unfortunately, this behaviour doesn’t consider the customer experience at all.

These metrics don’t consider whether a customer has previously opened a related case, even though more than 40% of all calls are considered “next issues” following an initial call. The Effortless Experience research proves that it takes an average of 2.5 calls to fully resolve the initial and associated follow-on issues.

Two-and-a-half phone calls sound like a little too much effort for the customer and could decrease their loyalty. If organizations report on why customers reach out in the first place, they can begin proactively looking at next issue avoidance of common subsequent calls and cases.

Wait. Next issue avoidance?

Highly effective service organizations don’t think of customer calls as one-off issues; they look at each customer case as the start of an event. In other words, they look at the initial call, determine common reasons a customer may call back and try to resolve those issues.

According to the Effortless Experience research, next issue avoidance is low hanging fruit, as 46% of customer support cases could have been avoided by looking towards the next potential case. For example, if you were to sign up for a new cable subscription, your first call would be to sign up with the cable provider. However, follow-on reasons to contact customer support may include:

  • Adding new channels (value-added service order)
  • Getting information about your existing services (product information)
  • Billing questions and concerns

One or two extra questions at the end of the first call could save the service team several five or seven-minute calls in the future.

In order for a next issue avoidance strategy to be successful, there needs to be a shift in mindset from “How quickly can I complete this call?” to “How can I avoid related callbacks?” Yes, certain calls may get longer, but there will be fewer calls overall and customer effort will decrease from the average of 2.5 calls to fully resolving the initial issue. If applied correctly, this will result in decreased customer effort and increased customer loyalty.

Sounds great! How do I implement this strategy?

Getting started is easy. Turn to your reporting to find the 10 most common issues and then determine the most likely reasons someone would call back following each issue.

The Effortless Experience outlines three very useful best practices when implementing a next issue avoidance strategy:

  1. Look at the next issue, not the next two, three or four issues. You only need to look at the next issue and not go two or three levels deep. Research proves that going any further will quickly result in diminishing returns.
  2. Focus on frequency. If there are several possible follow-on issues, only focus on the issues that are most likely to occur or are truly dissatisfying.
  3. Avoid forward-resolving complex issues. Consider treading with caution (especially over the phone) when trying to resolve a complex issue that hasn’t occurred yet. It may be better to follow up with an email and a detailed description of resolution steps.
What about my metrics?

With a next issue avoidance strategy, only tracking average handle time and first contact resolution becomes contradictory to your goal. I suggest looking at the seven-day rule alongside traditional metrics. The seven-day rule measures how often a contact reopens an existing case or opens a new case within seven days of the original request. This new metric will help you better understand the most common next issues and act as a coaching metric to monitor service agent performance.

Better understanding how first contact resolution works alongside next issue avoidance will result in a more effortless customer experience. Leveraging a tool like Service Cloud will allow you to easily track these metrics to drive the appropriate behaviour from your service team to decrease customer effort.

Drop me a note if you’d like to better understand how your organization could benefit from next issue avoidance and accurate reporting on the Salesforce platform.

Written by Dave Galloway, EVP of Service Cloud Adoption at Traction on Demand

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