The Invisible Metric: Call Deflection

By Liam Ryan, Senior Sales Account Manager

When it comes to customer satisfaction in the call centre, it’s important to implement the right strategies to answer customer enquiries quickly yet accurately. You can determine your effectiveness by looking at key data points like call wait times and call resolution to see how you’re doing once the customer dials your call centre. However, with more and more companies implementing additional channels to reduce volumes to the call centre, you’ll need to add another metric to your toolbox to measure effectiveness – call deflection. We like to call this the invisible metrics simply because you’re measuring actions that dissuade your customers from calling your contact centre. So before we dive in, let’s define it.

What is Call Deflection?

Call deflection is the science of re-routing a customer call to an alternative service channel. Most organisations turn to the web as their main channel, but are increasingly seeing more customer activity in the mobile IVR and social channels. In fact, our recent survey showed that more than ½ of the respondents who had volumes of one million or more enquiries per year saw Help Buttonincreases in their web channel followed by social media at 45%, 42% in mobile and 36% increases in the IVR channel in EMEA.

As a result, companies are focusing their customer service efforts on populating these emerging channels with content that can help answer customer queries, rather than relying solely on the telephone and email to respond to customers. Therefore, call deflection occurs when a customer can go to another channel to get information rather than make a phone call.

How Does Call Deflection Lead to Customer Satisfaction?

Despite increases to these channels, contact centre volumes are still on the rise, and companies have to staff their centres with live agents to handle the increasing call volumes. To that end, companies are relying strongly on FAQs and site search to address the low hanging fruit. But this only works with well-organised web sites and customers that are willing to dig around for information. Oftentimes, companies who don’t take this into account are focused on call avoidance techniques which tries to circumvent calls without truly answering the question.

If customer satisfaction is truly at the forefront of your customer experience strategy, then your goal is to save the customer a call by providing the information in a much more convenient way by offering full scale self-service options that meets the customer wherever they are.

How do I Deflect Calls?

Start by determining how and when to deflect calls based on customer needs. Take a look at what customers are currently asking in your call centre and which questions are getting the most clicks in your FAQs. Also look at the most search terms and phrases from your site search and formulate a plan from there. Then, identify the channels that will be most useful to your audience. Don’t forget mobile. Customers are increasingly accessing the web via mobile devices and apps. In fact, 57% refuse to recommend a company after viewing a low quality mobile site.

Next, choose the right tools for customer support management. Information delivery will be critical. Customers want access to information immediately, and simply don’t want to navigate through your departmental mazes. Implement a knowledge management tool to aggregate data across your organisation, then choose a delivery system. Virtual agents are fast becoming a tool of choice for companies that want to combine the agent experience with a seamless web experience. More and more of our clients are even deploying their virtual assistants on mobile devices and on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. In the end, technology is going to play a critical role in how you deploy and deliver content.

Last but not least, gather the right data. You need call deflection metrics to determine if what you are doing is actually working. Are call volumes going down? Are the calls you are answering of higher value or are customers still asking for passwords and login information? Are there any questions that you’re not answering or have poor answers for? Gathering this intelligence will help you create a better experience for your customers overall so don’t forget this key component in developing and executing your strategy.

I referenced our recent survey results above. You can download the 2013 Global Customer Service Outlook Survey for free to learn more about how your peers are dealing with customer experience.