As a result of increasing pressure from tough competitors, many businesses have looked to customer service to provide key differentiation. Knology (Nasdaq: KNOL), a leading provider of interactive communications and entertainment services in the southeast United States, meets this challenge by using Verint Media Recorder Workforce Optimization to deliver quality customer service in a highly-competitive market.
Knology serves residential and business customers and competes against major cable providers. The company, headquartered in West Point, Georgia, has made a name for itself by providing a winning combination of bundled cable, Internet, and voice services that has helped fuel a steady growth in customers and revenue since the late 1990s.
However, with growth came challenges. The company operates nine divisions supported by a centralized contact center in Augusta, Georgia and the corporate office in West Point. Knology’s contact center used basic ACD technology and had limited staffing. Schedules were created manually using spreadsheets and the Erlang formula, and quality monitoring was handled with outdated tape recorders. Furthermore, delivering quality service was complicated by the fact that all nine divisions had their own distinctive procedures in place, and no supporting documentation available online.
Contact center performance was only measured by answer rate. “The tape recorded interactions with customers provided a means of policing, not coaching,” says Scott Evenson, Knology’s director of customer care operations. “Without solid quality metrics, it was difficult for the company to identify specific areas in which to improve service.” According to Evenson, the addition of a new market in Florida pushed the contact center to its limits. “We were in a tough situation,” he observes. “Our call volume increased dramatically, and our answer rate wasn’t where we wanted it, even though agent occupancy was low.”
It became increasingly difficult to retain contact center agents because they were feeling the stress from the surge in call volume. As the costs to serve customers grew and first-call resolution rates declined, executives throughout the company took a hard look at the contact center. It was time to make changes.
Knology began by conducting a operations review at across all of their divisions and then selected Verint Media Recorder Advanced Workforce Optimization to simplify scheduling, quality monitoring, and training within its contact center. Several vendors were evaluated on a range of criteria, including solution capabilities, reputation, and cost.
“Selecting the software was the first step. The operations review led us to make some internal process changes, such as providing a hotline to the divisions so that the contact center could receive immediate assistance with urgent issues,” Evenson says. “We also began measuring ‘calls offered’ as a percentage of each division’s revenue-generation targets. In effect, this meant that the contact center began sharing the responsibility for the growing call volume with the divisions.”
Knology also committed to providing more offline training time for its service representatives. Evenson admits this strategy was part of a long-range vision. “Essentially, we committed to decreasing productivity in exchange for higher quality, which we knew would ultimately increase first-call resolution.” The company also instituted a bi-weekly call between the contact center and the marketing department to discuss upcoming activities and campaigns.