Data entry is essential to customer service, but it can also be time consuming and inefficient. Our expert panel share their top tips and experiences on how to reduce the time agents spend on data entry.
Take a step back and find the wasted time
Contact centre agents spend around 12.5% of their time on after-call work, costing the industry around £2.6bn a year, according to ContactBabel. But not all of this is wasted time.
Information that is manually input during wrap-up is hugely important to learning and analysis, and often used to bring about script changes and training that aids future improvement. It’s the unnecessary manual tasks that are the problem – those that can easily be automated and those that involve double inputs because systems aren’t integrated and are uncoordinated.
Carl Adkins, CEO, InfinityCCS (www.infinityccs.com)
Automate manual tasks
It’s not unusual to find that 80% of what agents do is ‘manual’ tasks – such as locating a piece of data and then retyping, or copying and pasting it into other screens.
It’s a phenomenon often measured as Average Wasted Time (AWT), and it not only affects productivity but also key contact centre metrics such as AHT.
Using a desktop automation product, manual data entry tasks such as these can be automated to significantly reduce agent data entry, eliminate AWT and improve other critical call centre metrics.
Eliminate repetition during conversations
Call centre agents spend the majority of their time speaking to customers and entering data. As such, call centres are looking to smooth the data-entry process and increase the call handling efficiency of agents.
Headsets provide one such way to help contact centres make the data-entry process easier for staff. By providing agents with the ability to talk to callers ‘hands-free’ they are able to enter data much faster using two hands.
Clean up the audio
Good audio is also essential for call centre agents in the data capture process and provides them with a greater understanding of what is being said. Clear audio means less repetition during the call to confirm answers, which can slow up the data-entry process.
By ensuring agents have access to good quality audio, with the latest noise-cancelling technology, contact centres can significantly reduce the length of the call as well as the time spent on confirming the accuracy of the data with the caller.
Chris King, Plantronics (www.plantronics.com)
Introduce dynamic screens
In most contact centres the agent desktop is not set up to handle efficient data entry for a whole host of reasons, mostly related to the fact that the desktop application is not designed from the agent’s perspective.
Screen navigation is often slower than the agent-to-customer dialogue, so the agent does not enter data directly and instead uses paper and pen, and fills in data afterwards. Typical desktops are not dynamic, new fields cannot be added easily and so it quickly gets out of step with what the business needs.
Screens should be dynamic and change almost on a weekly basis to meet customer and business demand.
The screens should only ask questions that are relevant and should pop up additional fields only when they are required based on previous answers. A single ‘mash-up’ style application can be used to pull data from different sources into the same screen and auto-populate as much information as possible from previous interactions and databases within the organisation.
Jon Meredith, Sales Director, mplsystems (www.mplsystems.co.uk)
Reduce the need for agent intervention
The best possible way to reduce the time agents spend on data entry is to remove as much of the burden from them as possible. This process starts with reviewing as many interactions as possible, in order to get to the root cause of why agents need to waste time form filling, box checking and freeform typing. For example, is the agent’s desktop interface slowing things down? Or, do they need to juggle between several different systems and duplicate data entry?
Once it is clear where the bottlenecks are, you can begin to address them and this can be achieved through the introduction of real-time impact (RTI) technology. RTI provides the entire contact centre with a powerful decisioning engine, which is able to draw from every relevant data source (CRM database, product catalogues, account information, etc.) in order to present the agent with the next best action in real time, during a customer interaction, or assist them further by automatically completing the task. With the right systems being populated with the right information at the right time, without the need for agent intervention, it allows the agent to focus on improving the quality of the interaction, removes the potential for human error and decreases overall handle times.
Recent reports from organisations that have been using RTI technology revealed major improvements to operational efficiency and effectiveness, through streamlining the entire customer interaction management process. In fact, it has been proven to reduce average handle time by a considerable 20 seconds and its ability to minimise data entry is a major contributory factor.
Craig Pumfrey, Director of Marketing & Communications, NICE Systems EMEA (www.nice.com)