‘No news is definitely good news’ in the case of stopping avoidable calls from customers. Reducing avoidable contact will improve efficiency and save both the business and the customer time and money.

Ask anyone what they would like to put into ‘Room 101’ and high on their list will be those frustrating calls they have to make to call centres that should not have been necessary. It is in the interest of all organisations, in every sector, to look into why avoidable contact is still happening.

The question is how does the company go about recording avoidable contact and analysing the findings so that it can sort the problem out? The results of a recent survey are of interest here. Rostrvm Solutions surveyed how Local Authorities are responding to the challenges of National Indicator 14 (NI 14), for which they attempt to record levels of avoidable contact. The results build on Rostrvm’s 2008 survey and show how 61 local authorities have fared in their first year of data collection.

UPDATE APRIL 2010: Following the UK government’s budget last month it has been decided to remove National Indicator 14 (Avoidable contact: The proportion of customer contact that is of low or no value to the customer). This means that measurement of avoidable contact in government contact centres is no longer mandatory.

Our view is that, whilst identifying avoidable contact may not required, it is still an excellent building block for “Doing more with the same… or doing the same with less”.

It was found that many public sector call centres are still not making the most of technology such as computer telephone integration (CTI) to improve efficiency. Rostrvm identified that a third of the local authorities surveyed used manual methods to record and analyse avoidable contact.

Chinwe Achebe, Sales and Marketing Researcher, says, “Whilst manual collection might appear to be an easy and cost-effective method of collection, it is fraught with problems – the biggest of which is increased workload and higher overheads for call operations. In some situations manual collection can heighten the risk of inconsistencies and can also make it difficult to analyse data accurately. Without trustworthy data, it’s a waste of time.”

Just over a quarter of councils surveyed using manual methods of collection did so because of issues with their CRM, such as flexibility restrictions and/or problems accessing reports.

Rostrvm found that of those councils using computer applications to support their data collection, a third purchased additional software to help. The remaining two-thirds had to make significant, costly changes to their operating systems to capture avoidable contact.

Straightforward software solutions can save considerable upheaval and expense, especially at a time when cost-saving measures are high on everyone’s agenda. rostrvm CallGuide (a desktop IT application) can be bolted onto existing systems like a CRM and is being used by public sector and commercial organisations to support contact processes and record contact outcome data.

CallGuide is very flexible and can be applied simply to record outcomes and full contact-flow management or, linked in with a contact management system and databases, will help with analysis by producing detailed and user-friendly reports that can highlight where the avoidable contact is coming from. It can also be deployed on any desktop, not just in the contact centre, meaning that every avoidable contact can be recorded.

Software such as this results in less avoidable contact, more efficient call centre operations, improved cost-effectiveness – and a less frustrated, happier customer. Some news is good.