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Improve Handle Time by Equipping Agents with More Information Upfront

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Customer service agents with headsets

Back in July 2016, the Internet was set ablaze by reports that Zappos logged a customer service call that lasted almost 11 hours. While an extreme example, it’s demonstrative of the emphasis that contact centers and contact center leaders are now placing on ensuring a positive customer experience, regardless of the time it takes the agent on the phone.

By correctly identifying the ripple effect that positive social media press can have on brand reputation and revenue, industry metrics are predicted largely to move away from Average Handle Time (AHT), and instead continue to embrace Net Promoter Score (NPS) and newer metrics such as Social Promoter Score (SPS) and Customer Effort Score (CES).

However, it doesn’t have to be an either/or dichotomy when it comes to handle time. The handle time of a call has the potential to directly influence the other, arguably more important metrics. When evaluating handle time, contact center leaders should not look at how much time is being reduced on a call, but rather, focus on what part of the call that time is being eliminated.

With many customers migrating to mobile support or self-service, many are now reaching out to contact centers as a last resort. So it’s safe to say that when they do reach an agent, in many cases the caller may already be agitated and inconvenienced.

So what if, for example, a business could eliminate the most friction-filled portion of a call?

Organizations that invest in identifying a larger percentage of inbound callers -- particularly first time callers who may not be stored in the CRM -- have the ability to take that step by pre-populating information for their agents before the agent even picks up the call. Having a caller’s first name, last name and address eliminates the frustrating and inaccurate process of spelling and re-spelling information. It also enables the caller’s email address and social media profiles to be captured in real-time, providing CRM enrichment and omni-channel support and identification.

Next Caller partners who have engaged in this practice have reported an average reduction of 30 seconds per call on handle time. More importantly, however, is the 12 percent increase in Net Promoter Score that stands out as it is an indicator that less friction on the call results in more satisfied callers.

Get to know your callers better with Next Caller, the world’s largest Caller ID database.

To learn more about Next Caller’s partnership with ShoreTel and how you can leverage Next Caller with ShoreTel Summit, see our press release.

Next Caller is a leading provider of Advanced Consumer Data and Fraud Detection. The SaaS and cloud-based platform increases sales conversions, marketing opportunity, and agent efficiency by delivering rich customer data to businesses in real time. The company maintains the market's largest database linking telephone number to name, address, email, income, social profiles, and more, with access to over 500M profiles.

Tim Prugar is an account executive at Next Caller, specializing in Call Center efficiency and Fraud Prevention. Tim is a frequent contributor to the International Customer Management Institute, and is a member of the Consumer Education Committee of the Communications Fraud Control Association. He lives in Connecticut.

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