Phone: 708.478.5772 PO Box 696 Orland Park, IL 60462

Customer Service Department Efficiency

I recently had a manager ask me why having a customer hold for over 10 minutes deserved a zero score. She rationalized her location’s long hold times by saying she had waited on hold for 30 minutes with a vendor when she called her corporate office. Although a 10-minute hold is better than a 30-minute hold, long hold times point out inefficiencies within a company or a department. The top reasons for having long hold times include:
1) short staffed
2) phones and/or computers go down
3) new business
How can you know if your customer service department is operating efficiently? You need to start by understanding what your customer interaction numbers are. There are three very important reasons why you need to know these numbers; they determine staffing needs, whether you are providing the type of service you promised your customers and whether you will have the capacity to handle new customers being added to your current customer base.

How to determine your Customer Interaction Numbers

The formula we use at Tooty is: inbound calls + voice mail messages + e-mails + walk-in traffic=CIN
If you had 300 inbound calls, 25 voice mail messages, 20 customer e-mails and 5 customers that came in to pay their bill you had 350 customer interactions. Estimate you will need 5 minutes per interaction which would include wrap up time to complete documentation. This formula takes into consideration that some interactions take 30 seconds and some can take 15 minutes.
Determining proper staffing and phone coverage
Agent hours minus time for breaks/lunch minus time for other duties= hours available for customer interactions. Example: Mary works 9 hours, she takes 1 hour for lunch and breaks. She is responsible for returning voice mail messages and customers e-mails which take an average of 90 minutes each day. She is available to take inbound phone calls for 6.5 hours.
Each agent should be able to handle a minimum of 10 customer interactions per hour or 90-100 per day if there are no other duties. 350 customer interactions divided by 90=3.88 meaning the customer service department needs 4 people (not 3) available to help customers in order to provide excellent customer care.

90-day Assessment
Post a quarterly calendar on the wall and each day document the number of inbound calls, messages left, e-mails and walk-ins. This can be delegated to your lead agent. Include in your documentation what may have been going on to generate extra customer calls. Also document how many agents you had on the phones. You will start to see some patterns that will allow you to discuss proactive solutions with your management team. A Manager or Controller will relate to data. That data will allow you to make a case for better tools or the need for back-up people to help customer service during busy periods in order to provide excellent customer service.

Preparing for New Business
Long hold times scare away business opportunities. You will never know how many opportunities were lost or their potential revenue because these prospective customers
go under your radar. When it comes to new contracts where customers will be calling, you will need to staff up. Waiting to see if your current staff can handle the influx of new customers creates the perfect opportunity for complaints.

Our goal as a company is to uplift, encourage and help you and your team be better today than you were yesterday. We have great classroom and webinar training with excellent content. Have us perform secret shopper calls for you to find out exactly what the customer must go through to get help over the phone.


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