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How to use BI to improve the customer experience

When Timothy J. Whall became CEO of Protection 1, a full-service provider of residential and business security solutions, in 2010, he made it clear that the company’s primary goal was to reduce attrition. The way he planned to do this was by improving customer service as well as the customer experience, both for business and residential customers.

A subscription-based service with nearly 2 million customers across the United States, Protection 1’s new management team understood that the company’s recurring revenue model hinged on providing customers, especially their national accounts, with superior service. And providing superior customer service hinged on being able to collect and analyze critical customer-related data.

“Our first goal was to deliver actionable data to employees in a much shorter period of time than they had been used to,” says Donald Young, CIO, Protection 1. The second goal “was to be transparent with our customers, [by creating] Web portals that our customers [could] use to help themselves. And the third [goal was] to improve the customer experience in our call center – and help operators reduce their average handle time.”

Improving customer service in the contact center

The contact center issues were relatively easy, or straightforward, to fix, says Young. Instead of customers having to navigate a phone tree, “we tore that whole thing down and routed all of those calls to a human being.”

[ Related: 8 tips for choosing the right contact center for your business ]

In addition, Protection 1 provided thorough training to its operators and gave them real-time access to customer data. The latter they accomplished by developing and deploying an in-house, custom business intelligence solution (utilizing SQL databases, Informatica, SharePoint, and their own custom, in-house scripts and formulas), so they could resolve customer-related issues more quickly.

“All of our [customer] data comes from essentially MASterMind or Avaya,” Young says. “Avaya is our phone solution and MASterMind is our [monitoring and customer service] solution. We inherited the Avaya and MASterMind [solutions] in 2010. But the company had not made any effort to build a BI environment to leverage the data.”

For example, before deploying its BI solution, if someone wanted to know when the last time a customer called in about their bill, MASterMind didn’t actually provide a way to see that. “But when we combined the data from our Avaya environment and our MASterMind environment, we were not only able to see the last time they called but the reason for the call.”

Protection 1’s BI solution also netted other improvements in customer service and efficiency.

“Our first-call resolution, which is a very important metric for us, improved substantially,” says Young. As did their metrics for call transfers and the time it took to answer a call. “Right now our transfer rate is less than 3 percent. We’re very proud of that. [And] we answer the phone in less than 10 seconds.”

The company also created an app to immediately notify customers about low-priority events, such as a test signal not being sent. “Granted, it becomes a less personal experience, because it’s an app, not a human voice. But customers appreciated being notified far quicker than they ever had before.”

[ Related: 5 ways ecommerce business can improve customer service ]

Self-empowering customers through portals

Creating customer portals, where customers could easily monitor their locations and access billing and other information, was also a key part of the company’s strategy to improve the customer experience and reduce attrition.

“We wanted customers to see the value that they were getting from us,” says Young. “And the best way for them to see it was for them to be able to go online, [to one of our customer portals], and see right away whether they’re getting value from the service that we’re providing.”

(Protection 1 has two customer portals, one for its commercial and multi-location customers called eSuite, and one for residential customers called MyProtection1.com.)

Using BI to improve employee performance

“The third thing that we did is we worked on our internal BI,” says Young. Before 2010, employees didn’t have an accurate or real-time sense of how they were doing. Today, though, thanks to easy-to-use dashboards, employees can log in and find out how they are performing.

“This actually happens at all levels of the company,” he says. “I do it. My boss does it. Everyone accesses the scorecard every morning and decides what they are going to accomplish that day based on the results.”

And giving employees the tools and support they need to better do their jobs has definitely helped improve the customer experience.

[ Related: 9 Ways to Improve Employee and Customer Communication ]

“We have a metric very important to our business called in-standard,” says Young. “That’s a metric we have on our scorecard that shows what percentage of the time I’m not servicing the customer within 24 hours of their request,” he says. “In the past, employees would have had no clue which customers were waiting and for how long. Now I can drill down and see which customers [exceeded the] threshold. And I know right away which customers I need to get on the phone with and [let them know] when I’m going to service them [and] service them quickly. That’s something customers really appreciate.”

Lower attrition through better customer experience (and BI)

“Our belief has always been, if you take care of the customer, everything else falls into place,” says Young. “This means we look for and create metrics around critical experiences for customers and hold front line and leaders accountable to them (vs. P&L).” And the company’s efforts to date have paid off.

Shortly before the new management team took over, Protection 1’s attrition rate was 16 percent. By the end of 2010, it was down to 13 percent. And within 14 months of the changeover, attrition had shrunk to 11 percent. “Today, we’re closer to 10,” says Young. And the company enjoys a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate.

“If we’re proud of one thing at our company, that would be [the] thing we’re most proud,” he says. “Attrition is a true measure of customer satisfaction. If they are enjoying the service and see value, customers don’t leave. And chances are they’re going to give you more referral business. They’re going to increase the value of your brand. There are all sorts of good things that happen when customers value the relationship.”

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