Repeat calls are an ongoing issue for most contact centers, leading to stressed agents and dissatisfied customers. However, while these calls can put an additional strain on your call center, they can also open a window of opportunity.
With a new point of view, you can use repeat calls to improve agent performance, streamline contact center operations, and deliver a better customer experience.
Repeat calls happen when the same customer reaches out to your contact center on multiple occasions within the same time period. For example, a customer calls several times in the same week to complain about a refund they’re waiting to receive. If you fail to deliver the desired response, there’s a strong chance the customer will call again. The definition does vary, with some regarding any call within a specific period as a repeat call, while others only regard it as a repeat call if it concerns the same issue.
To follow on from our previous example, if that customer calls about their refund and then, later in the week, calls about the warranty on a different product, some would consider this a repeat call. In contrast, others would not, as the customer is reaching out about two unrelated issues. Either way, excessive repeat calls are cause for concern and could indicate deeper issues within your call center. However, with every repeat call comes a learning opportunity.
Repeat calls are not only indicative of existing call center issues, but they can also be a precursor to further problems. The more time agents spend dealing with the same customers repeatedly, the less time and energy they can dedicate to other customers, limiting the call center’s overall productivity and leading to potential churn and retention issues. The increased workload can also be stressful for agents, limiting their ability to provide high-quality CX, which results in lower scores for key metrics like NPS and CSAT.
Suppose the same problems crop up repeatedly in customer calls, regardless of which agent is on the line. In that case, there are likely inherent issues with the product or service which cannot be quickly resolved over the phone, regardless of an agent’s knowledge or customer service ability. To resolve those concerns, you will have to look beyond the agents and go to the product team for a more long-term fix.
Lengthy queuing times, excessive transfers, and repeated requests for the same information are just a few signs that your customer experience isn’t up to scratch. These symptoms can be the result of a number of different performance issues. Perhaps, agents lack sufficient product knowledge to resolve customer concerns. Maybe they’re not displaying empathy or rushing customers through calls to meet arbitrary targets around average handling time. Whatever the CX issue, repeat calls can indicate a problem.
Every repeat call places an additional burden on agents, distracting them from other tasks and reducing the overall productivity of the contact center, which, of course, has a big impact on revenue generation and the bottom line. It also increases the chances of burnout and could cause problems with agent churn. Moreover, it limits the time agents have for learning and coaching sessions which, if effective, could reduce repeat calls in the future.
Perhaps the most obvious problem arising from repeat calls is customer dissatisfaction. Unhappy customers don’t stick around, and eventually, instead of calling multiple times, they’ll just stop calling entirely and take their business elsewhere. Customer retention is a significant factor in revenue generation, so it’s important to minimize repeat calls if you want to grow your organization. Even if customers do stick around through the poor service, their experiences will drag down scores for key metrics like CSAT and NPS.
By identifying repeat calls, tracking their volume and frequency, and analyzing the causes behind these calls, you can learn a lot about your call center and turn a problem into an opportunity. It’s essnetial to not only track the number of repeat calls but to document the nature of these calls and explore why customers are repeatedly calling. To do this, you should establish a data collection and analysis process covering both structured and unstructured data. It involves the analysis of KPIs like average handling time, first contact resolution, and average time in queue, as well as deeper dives into individual cases. This will allow you to identify the recurring issues that drive repeat calls. Is an ongoing product issue affecting dozens of customers? Is a lack of payment methods preventing customers from making a purchase? Is the absence of readily-available information about your product or service forcing customers to call directly for clarification? Any number of causes could be driving up your repeat call rate, and it’s your responsibility to identify and tackle these root causes.
Some common reasons for repeat calls include:
By drilling down into these causes, you can tackle problems at their source, improving agent performance and customer experience.
Scorecards are a particularly handy tool for repeat call analysis, allowing you to gather data on relevant metrics like average handling time, first-call resolution, and average time in queue. You can then link these metrics to agent performance to highlight the issues behind your repeat call rate. This allows you to provide real-time feedback to agents, tackling root causes quickly with targeted training based on identified gaps in employee skill sets and product/service knowledge. You can also monitor scorecard results over time to measure the impact of this training and make changes accordingly.
Repeat calls can indicate issues within your call center, but they also provide opportunities to put these issues under the microscope. With the right approach, you can use repeat calls to identify problems, learn from them, and implement changes to improve your organization’s future performance.
If the same issue is causing a lot of repeat calls, highlight it. Using scorecards and analytics tools, you can identify the most common problems behind repeat calls and make these problems a focus for your organization. Post-call surveys, tailored to focus on specific KPIs, agents, or teams, can also pinpoint areas for improvement. At the same time, real-time call monitoring is beneficial for spotting problems that may not be apparent in retrospect and taking quick action. By categorizing customer problems, you can determine the best course of action to resolve them. For example, if customers keep calling to complain about a recurring software issue, more agent training isn’t going to help; that’s a problem for the product team.
If you understand the issues behind repeat calls, you can get ahead of the curve and take preventative action. Here are some approaches to doing so:
One of the best ways to use repeat calls to your advantage is to repurpose them as learning tools. Any skill or knowledge gaps identified during repeat call analysis can inform your approach to agent training, allowing you to provide targeted coaching for individual agents and develop better learning tools for the whole organization. More specifically, you can create resources within your learning management system based on the acquired insights. The flexibility of an LMS means you can deliver training on different subjects in various formats to suit a range of learning styles. You can also use training to highlight the reasons for repeat calls, what agents can do to reduce them, and how to minimize their cost. Repeat calls can also inform your onboarding process, serving as excellent samples for training new employees.
Getting agents involved in your repeat call analysis can be a great way to boost engagement. After all, they are the ones who are in direct contact with customers. The agents should have a strong sense of why repeat calls occur, even if they haven’t formally acknowledged these reasons. You could also ask agents about their working environment and see if there is anything they would like to improve. For example, outdated equipment could limit their ability to solve customer problems, leading to increased repeat calls. Asking for agent feedback is an excellent way to understand how they work and what you, as a leader, can do to make their life easier.
A comprehensive knowledge hub is something of a swiss army knife for contact centers. It acts as an encyclopedia for your product/service, with information available for every potential customer issue. It is also a self-training tool for agents, whether they’re new starters or long-term employees seeking a refresher. While coaching will always be valuable, sometimes agents will be encouraged by the opportunity to find the answers on their own. You can use the information from your repeat call analysis as a source for your knowledge base, developing resources based on real-world problems and agent knowledge of how to solve them. This way, the whole team can learn from previous repeat calls and avoid a recurrence of the same issues.
It may seem almost contradictory, given that repeat calls are often indicative of poor CX, but if an agent is speaking to the same customer again and again, they have the opportunity to build a rapport and deliver highly-personalized service. What begins as a frustrating experience can develop into a friendly back-and-forth if the agent plays it right. Through repeated interactions, agents can learn more about the customer and the best ways to solve their problems. Customers don’t want to keep calling back, so speak to them openly and learn what can be done to help them more efficiently in the future.
Repeat calls can also provide an additional channel for gathering customer feedback. Getting customers to complete a survey or participate in an interview can be challenging, so if you can collect input each time they call, you will be in a strong position to implement this feedback to prevent repeat calls in the future. As mentioned earlier, managers should establish a system for repeat call feedback that ensures that data is collected, stored, and reviewed promptly.
The best way to reduce repeat calls is to learn from them. If you can look at your repeat calls from a fresh perspective, you can reframe them as educational tools for your contact center. Behind every customer who keeps calling back is a reason why. Identifying this reason and drilling down to find the root cause will show you what can be done better next time, opening up opportunities for improved agent training, enhanced CX, and smoother call center operations. Scorebuddy’s analytics and reporting tools, along with our flexible Scorecard Builder, will allow you to carry out in-depth repeat call analysis and turn this frustrating call center phenomenon into a learning tool for your organization. Request a free trial today to see what Scorebuddy can do for you.