Improving Customer Satisfaction Through Employee Engagement

By Barbara Porter Print this article Print

Nicor National provides home warranty solutions and energy management plans through its call center, which consists of 250 representatives. Barbara Porter, vice president, business development and customer service at the Naperville, Ill., company, describes how she and her team restructured customer service operations to engage employees, provide better service to customers and improve general business functions.

By Barbara Porter

A call center, or contact center, is the communication and information hub for most large organizations. It is where your customers go to get—and expect to receive—quality service. Within any call center, customer service representatives need to access a variety of business applications that house customer information, including personal data, interactions and transactions. At many companies, this information is stored in several systems, making it difficult for representatives to do their jobs.

With 12 legacy systems, Nicor National was no exception. Our representatives not only had to learn how to access and use each system, they also had to toggle back and forth among systems to handle customer calls. Obviously, this was not efficient.

We knew we had to make our representatives’ jobs easier to provide the level of service our customers deserve. We handle more than 1 million inquiries each year on behalf of more than 740,000 customers. While our call center had earned national recognition, we realized that it would be a challenge to sustain customer satisfaction without making a commitment to provide our representatives with a better technology tool.

Our customers and representatives began to express frustration a few years ago. After surveying our representatives, we learned that working with 12 systems was affecting their ability to serve customers. Because our agents had to navigate several different systems for every inquiry, the required time to handle even simple inquiries was very long.  After a careful review of our internal processes for sales and service, we decided to build a new front-end system that would eliminate all the legacy systems. 

To establish the business requirements for our front-end system, we surveyed a cross-section of representatives using a two-way communication platform called Allegiance. We designed questions that would evaluate every point of the customer interaction process, so we could uncover issues that needed attention. From the survey, we learned that when our legacy systems became too cumbersome to navigate, employees lost confidence in their ability to effectively help our customers and they began to feel disengaged.

The legacy systems comprised a number of separate systems that representatives had to navigate for each customer interaction, requiring them to tab through different screens and wait for each system to respond. Customers suffered the effects of the complex navigation of these 12 systems, including long times to resolve issues. As a result, customers felt less than confident about the service provided to them.

This article was originally published on 2012-03-26
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