Large energy company in a very competitive market was losing customers as quickly as it was acquiring them. The cost to acquire new customers was by far surpassing the cost for customer retention. However, the third-party call centers being used did not necessarily provide customized attention to their customers; in other words, provided few dedicated agents and serviced multiple brands. This impacted the effectiveness of retention programs implemented at the call center.
The first step was to build relationships with the call center supervisors, managers and team leaders. It was important to understand their perspectives, challenges and limitations, and even more so the influence they had over the agents. We then conducted focus groups and side by side sessions with customer service agents. This allowed us to get a first-hand understanding of their challenges, their capabilities and thus their untapped potential. Moreover, we improved training materials (how they are developed and executed), and implemented reward programs to help these agents retain and use the information provided to them to “save” customers.
A process was created to ensure training materials were constantly updated, and new information was communicated in a timely manner. The agent incentive programs were designed to not only reward the agents but their supervisors and team leaders as well. Follow ups and visits to the call center were coordinated to ensure the success of new retention campaigns. When the retention programs were first implemented at the call center, the energy company was saving an average of 2,500 customers a year; after the new call center strategy and continuous training, this number more than tripled in one year and in four years the company was saving almost 35,000 customers a year.