CitiFinancial, the retail-lending arm of Citigroup, was suffering from a case of tunnel vision in its contact center. Although agents were effective at selling the products they knew, they left 50 others unsold. As a result, the company was missing out on revenue opportunities.
Executives placed the blame on inadequate training. "We needed to increase our agent knowledge and skills while reducing the time it took us to deliver training," said Wendy McCandless of CitiFinancial.
CitiFinancial turned to Knowlagent, an Atlanta-based e-learning provider, to improve agent knowledge and skills before they adversely affect customer service. In short order, CitiFinancial was able to increase cross-sell and up-sell effectiveness, doubling monthly sales from $2.4 million to more than $4.4 million.
Knowlagent has allowed CitiFinancial to hike agent training without moving anyone into a classroom.
"The training was delivered right to the desktop and addressed individual knowledge and skill needs," said McCandless, "making it easier for the agents to understand the material and immediately implement it into their customer interactions."
CitiFinancial's problem is not unique. Millions of dollars have been spent on CRM solutions to enable organizations to get closer to customers and provide better service.
A fundamental disconnect, however, exists between CRM applications and the contact center. According to a survey by Aberdeen Group, more than 71 percent of respondents identified increasing customer retention and value per customer as the highest priorities.
The emphasis on customer retention and maximizing customer value has led to technologies and processes that make contact centers effective as well as efficient.
In a report, What Works: Ten Significant Implementations in CRM-Call and Contact Centers, Aberdeen Group highlights customer contact centers that have successfully integrated new technologies to reduce costs, improve agent effectiveness and increase customer retention.
CitiFinancial's adoption of contact center e-learning exemplifies the shift from efficiency to effectiveness, according to the Aberdeen report.
Agent empowerment initiatives, noted the report, help improve the customer experience by increasing agent skill level, knowledge, and training.
"Companies that focus on customers and invest in empowering agents with tools, training and information not only realize improvements in customer satisfaction, they also save money," said Stephen Lane, research director at Aberdeen.