Adding Functionality

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.


Adding Functionality
Since then, we’ve enhanced Agent Desktop by adding functionality that helps our representatives increase sales through upselling or cross-selling to maximize all opportunities for additional revenue. What’s more, our new Product Recommender―a tool that is very helpful to our representatives―identifies which products are likely to appeal to customers based on their purchasing profile.

Agent Desktop’s goals are to increase sales conversion rates, reduce average call handling time, improve first call resolution, and reduce training time. These are the metrics by which we measure our success as we continue to enhance the capabilities and functionality of Agent Desktop.  As we attain incremental milestones, we will also realize overall business objectives, such as increasing sales, reducing the cost per sale, improving retention and controlling our costs of doing business.

In the first eight weeks after the launch of Agent Desktop, we increased our sales conversion rate by 2 percent, reduced call handling time by 10 percent, improved first-call resolution by 13 percent and reduced training time by 20 percent. As we look to continually improve performance, our next goal is to decrease the time it takes to handle calls by 10 to 35 percent.

We plan to expand the scope of our new front-end system by integrating Nicor National’s billing processes, as well as the business functions of our third-party partners, into Agent Desktop. Other goals include giving our customers more channels for accessing information, including self-service via a Web portal, email and social CRM functions. The portal includes a “Call Me” feature that will allow customers to quickly and easily connect with a representative when needed.

Overall, what we have learned from this project is that employee engagement and customer engagement are intrinsically linked—and ultimately affect the bottom line. We continue to build a positive culture at Nicor National, and Agent Desktop demonstrates our commitment to our employees, customers and shareholders. That means greater job satisfaction for employees, better service for customers, and results that meet shareholder expectations ― winning outcomes for all.

We remain passionate about listening to employees and customers, and understanding and integrating their feedback. We believe that integrating both customer and employee feedback into operational processes and goals will create a business framework that meets our corporate goals now and for many years to come.

Barbara Porter is vice president, customer experience & business development,  at Nicor National, based in Naperville, Ill.  

This article was originally published on 2012-03-26
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