Little distraction could cost your company a lot of money.
Focus and concentration are hot commodities these days, with social media, open office layouts and short attention spans running rampant in workplaces. The bank’s customer service rep was distracted. He was responding to emails in between phone calls. The problem was he’d get halfway into an email and then the next call would come in. It took a second for him to shift his focus to the caller.
At the end of the call, he’d hurry back to the email. He’d skim the email as best as he could and then hurriedly type his response in hopes of finishing it before the next call came in.
One particular email was from a customer inquiring about his loan balance. The rep looked it up and saw the balance was $15,000. In his haste, he left off a zero.
His email informed the customer that the loan balance was just $1,500
Customer service reps everywhere are chronically distracted.
They’re balancing multiple priorities. They often work in noisy office environments. The typical contact center rep must juggle five to seven different software programs on two or more computer monitors just to serve a customer. And they’re barraged by messages on email, chat, and even their personal devices in between.
To top it off, many contact center reps work like the bank employee in the story above. They are asked to respond to email or another written channel in between handling phone calls in an effort to eke out every last drop of productivity.
It’s thought to be efficient, but it isn’t. Customer service reps working in this setup are often less productive and are prone to costly mistakes. For example, the bank ultimately had to honor the erroneous loan balance and write off the $13,500 error.
The High Cost of Distraction
Distraction can cost a company far more than the few dollars saved by cramming in some extra work in between calls.
Another customer service leader told me about the cost of distraction at his company at the same time I heard about the $13,500 bank error. This one was even worse.
A telecom customer had emailed to ask if he had won a promotional contest. He had not won, so the customer service rep started typing an email to politely tell the customer he didn’t win.
But the customer service rep was answering emails in between calls. And the rep was distracted. So the rep’s actual email read, “You did win.”
There was a kerfuffle. The company tried to claim it was an honest mistake. The customer sued, and the company eventually agreed to a six-figure Settlement.
You might be tempted to maximize productivity by having your agents juggle multiple assignments all day. Before you do, think about the potential costs:
- Expensive errors caused by distraction.
- Decreased productivity caused by constantly shifting attention.
- Decreased service quality caused by a lack of customer focus.
Jeff Toister, CXService360