After Call Work – Why it Matters and How to Ensure it’s Done Right
After call work (ACW) refers to the tasks completed by a customer service agent once the call with the customer has been completed. Also known as post-call processing or wrap-up, ACW includes tasks such as logging the call’s purpose and outcome, writing notes on actions taken, scheduling follow-up activities and updating the company’s internal knowledge base.
This article explains the importance of after call work and explores emerging approaches to streamlining the post-call process for frontline employees.
The importance of after call work
Implementing proper after call work processes can go a long way toward improving the customer-company relationship. Taking the time to tag the call, log the details, update the CRM system or forward customer feedback to the relevant department provides vital information to contact center managers, chief experience officers, R&D personnel and customer journey mappers. When after call work is executed properly, overall service levels are improved and customer satisfaction increases. Other benefits of ACW include:
Simpler Quality Assurance: It’s much easier for contact center managers to check that all necessary actions have been taken and that the desired outcomes have been achieved when agents accurately complete ACW.
Strategic CRM Processes: Incorporating after call work into standard workflows ensures that the company has the data it needs to build stronger relationships with customers. If customer service agents capture details that sales reps or other agents can reference when speaking to customers, a whole new level of personalized CRM can be developed. For example, if a customer calls in to suspend their service package while on vacation and the rep records details about the conversation, imagine the positive impact the next rep will have when he asks the customer how he enjoyed his recent trip to the Bahamas.
Why agents often neglect ACW
Contact center agents are usually hyper-aware of their KPIs, which can form the basis of their financial incentives and the likelihood of them staying in their jobs. One important KPI is Average Handling Time (AHT), which measures the average duration of communications between agents and customers. Even though AHT is rarely considered in isolation these days, a low AHT is generally associated with a positive customer service experience and cost efficiencies, as it allows agents to handle more calls during a shift. After call work is considered part of the call and the time an agent spends on ACW counts toward this KPI. As contact centers seek to reduce AHT, agents may deprioritize ACW in order to meet their time-based metrics.
However, this disregard for ACW is starting to change. According to Forbes Insights, while only 24% of contact centers are currently measuring agents’ ACW performance, 19% say they are making progress in this area. Another 32% are in the early stages of using ACW as a metric for agent performance.
Tips and Tricks to Boost ACW Efficiencies
While ACW is vital to improving customer relationships, when agents spend too much time on post-call tasks it can decrease the overall efficiency of the contact center. Here are some tips to make ACW activities more efficient:
Improve agent training: Offer agents robust training on CRM software and business tools so they will not waste time during or after the call trying to figure out what information goes where. Make it clear that management will evaluate their ACW activities, which will motivate agents to be as efficient as possible.
Optimize ACW workflow: Reduce the number of tasks an agent must complete in the ACW workflow. Make it as simple as possible for agents to capture the required information in as few screens as possible.
Encourage notetaking during a call: To save time, agents should be encouraged to multi-task during a call by focusing on the customer and capturing call details simultaneously. This not only reduces time spent on ACW – when the agent tells the customer that they’re taking notes, it reassures them about the outcome of the interaction.
Offer incentives: Creating a link between performance and rewards has been proven to motivate agents. This can be accomplished through gamification, cash bonuses or other incentives such as priority parking and shift preference.
Tools & Tech to Streamline after call work
While presenting agents with approaches to help them reduce the time spent on ACW is helpful, there are also various technologies the contact center can deploy to streamline the overall process. Here are just a few:
Implement a customized CRM system: A robust CRM system tracks and stores customer data to help facilitate efficient customer interactions. Customize the CRM to your needs by analyzing your contact center processes. Introduce smart menus and tailored fields with drop-down values unique to your business. This reduces the amount of text an agent needs to type and can have a positive effect on the time an agent spends on after call work.
Integrate contact center systems: Many software solutions are compatible with one another and can help facilitate ACW. For example, an inbound call can be integrated with a CRM system, identifying the caller and bringing up their history before the agent even says hello. Integration with help desk software can automatically generate a ticket when a call comes in, reducing the number of steps an agent needs to take when handling the call and during any associated follow-up.
Introduce automation: Finding ways to automate repetitive tasks has been proven to streamline ACW processes. Determine which recurring tasks are time-consuming enough to warrant an investment in automation. For example, a typical onboarding workflow may include reading terms and conditions, emailing documentation for KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures, collecting a signature and authenticating identification – a workflow which may take several days and involve extensive back-and-forth communication between an agent and a customer. Automating this process can save thousands of hours a year.
While all these tools and technologies are known to be effective, a new smartphone-based technology – Visual Assistance – is also having a significant impact on contact centers, reducing the time agents spend on ACW. Visual Assistance technology allows an agent to see a customer’s issue via their smartphone camera or by sharing their smartphone screen. This enables the agent to easily diagnose the problem and visually guide the customer toward a solution. Capturing images and tagging them appropriately is a much faster and more efficient method of carrying out after call work. For example, if an agent determines that a device replacement is required, instead of writing up a lengthy report explaining the decision, he can simply save an image of the broken or defective device to the system. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Most contact centers still swear by AHT, but the focus on dealing with customer episodes as quickly as possible doesn’t only run the risk of damaging service quality, it also encourages agents to deprioritize after call work (ACW), an increasingly important dimension of contact center operations. Instead, agents must be given appropriate tips, tricks, tools and technologies to help them handle their after call work more efficiently, while maintaining service quality.