Blinds.com shows how a targeted approach with business process automation can get you quick results.
Blinds.com has realized a 25 percent productivity increase in the number of calls agents can handle.
Business leaders are hearing the drumbeat that to gain and keep a new breed of customers and engage a smarter workforce, they must adopt a social business culture for their organization, where processes and technologies are designed for immediate collaboration to capture, share and repurpose knowledge.
A 2013 MIT/Deloitte University Press study noted, “The importance of social business is mounting. In our 2011 survey, 18 percent of respondents said it was ‘important today.’ In 2012, the number jumped to 36 percent. The time horizon is also getting shorter. In 2011, 40 percent of respondents said that social ‘will be important one year from now.’ In 2012 that number leaped to 54 percent.”
Yet in the same study, it was noted that progress to incorporate social business patterns was slow due to some common barriers, including lack of an overall strategy (28 percent of respondents), too many competing priorities (26 percent) and lack of a proven business case or strong value proposition (21 percent).
A Targeted Solution
For consumer affairs professionals, the good news is that implementing targeted solutions in the contact center may prove the best strategy in a larger social business deployment, where the highest level of customer interaction occurs, and further, where an increase in customer loyalty and employee training and retention levels can be quickly measured.
At first glance, business process automation may seem antithetical to anything related to social. Yet for Blinds.com, the nation’s largest online retailer of window coverings, implementing this technology was one step that quickly delivered results.
The most common complaint from Blinds.com customers was a lack of follow up on their service issues due to inconsistent methods and an absence of a defined process. For example, “Some agents might use Microsoft Outlook calendars to remind them about follow-ups, and others might simply use handwritten notes,” says Martin Claggett, director of operations for Blinds.com.
Blinds.com had previously deployed Customer Interaction Center, an all-in-one IP communications software suite designed for contact centers. The business process solution that ran on this platform (as well as a stand-alone that integrates with other communications systems) was Interaction Process Automation.
With IPA, workflows were easily programmed to be consistent and enabled agents to communicate effectively with suppliers, set automated reminders for follow-ups and choose pre-formatted emails for customer queries. “The process flows are guiding our agents through roughly 50 percent of the reasons customer call us,” says Claggett. As a result, Blinds.com has realized a 25 percent productivity increase in the number of calls agents can handle.
In addition to empowering employees with consistent information to handle customer issues, training time for order processing has dropped significantly as well. “IPA’s workflows walk agents through each process so there’s no need for them to memorize all of the steps,” says Claggett. “IPA has helped us cost-effectively root out the source of our inefficiencies, resulting in the kind of consistent, positive customer experiences that drive repeat business and referrals.”
For organizations wanting to take a more targeted step toward incorporating social business, process automation is well suited for the contact center and can easily spread throughout the entire organization.