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Redefine How Your Call Centre Agents Absorb Information

March 28, 2018 at 12:35 PM

An average customer’s attention span is less than that of a goldfish, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. While a goldfish can focus its attention for 9 seconds, in 2015 customers were found to lose interest after only 8, down from 12 seconds in 2000. (Click to Tweet!) The reduced attention span, makes the initial impression all the more critical, especially in a call centre environment.

But call centre agents are overloaded with text-based information, spread across several systems, all of which are dull and unexciting. How can you empower your agents to successfully engage with a customer within the critical first seconds of a call, and beyond?

If you’re faced with the challenge of optimising a call centre’s performance, this is likely a big problem area you’re looking at solving.

Represent information visually

While we can be more descriptive when we are conveying information via text, it does take longer to reach an individual’s brain. It only takes 0.25 seconds to process visual content, some 60 000 times faster than text. (Click to Tweet!) Evolutionary speaking, we have developed the ability to quickly process visual information, as we’ve used visual communication for 30 000 years, with the written word only being around for the last 3700. In fact, even in today's age, it's estimated that 90% of all information that comes to the brain gets conveyed visually. And with 40% of nerve fibres to the brain connected to the retina, it’s no wonder our minds are well-versed in translating colours, images, body language and other visual data.

In your call centre, instead of just having visual wallboards with KPI information or internal information, why not take this practice beyond and apply it to customer information? By representing customer information with pictures, your agents will easily be able to discern who they are talking to – a young woman or a middle-aged man? Represent account information with colours: red if they are high risk, orange if medium and green if low risk, or represent how the previous interaction went with the same colours. Your agents will get an overview of the caller and relationship quickly and be able to spend the critical first part of the call interacting with the customer, instead of trying to dig through data.

Collate information in one place

Jumping between systems and screens to collect all information (even if it’s represented visually in each of the systems) can be disrupting. Every system has a unique interface, and even when focussed on one task: getting the information needed to engage with this customer, shifting from screen to screen is akin to multitasking.

According to a scientific study, evidence suggests that although the time taken to switch may be small, they can quickly add up to substantial amounts when switching back and forth repeatedly occurs, as would happen in a call centre. This suggests that although it's not immediately evident that there is a cost associated, there may be more time spent and it could involve more errors. The study concluded, saying that shifting between tasks could cost as much as 40% of the productive time.

Your agents would save a lot of valuable time throughout the day, as well as within the first, valuable seconds if all critical information about a customer were displayed in one interface, saving them the need to jump between applications.

Introduce gamification

According to a report in 2017, there are 2.2 billion active gamers in the world, with consumers spending more time than ever playing games – especially millennials, who make up a large part of the workforce in call centres currently. When you play a game, and you do well, your brain’s reward centre gets stimulated. This happens in several ways.

By introducing gamification in a call centre, you can keep agents motivated to perform well and meet their targets, and you could introduce a reward system for learning. Introducing gamification to encourage processing and retention of customer and account information quickly to retain engagement within the first seconds of a call, especially to a centre staffed with millennials, will result in improved success rates.

These three psychological principles, if utilised in a call centre, could be the answer to your problems. By solving your agents’ challenges, your results will skyrocket. Learn how we harnessed the power of behavioural science and AI to help agents achieve better call outcomes, driving both profits and efficiencies in call centre environments.

Learn more about our Coaching Bot for Call Centre Agents

Perry de Jager
Perry de Jager
Perry has been involved in Collections and Recoveries for the past 12 years, spending time in different market segments ranging from law firms to investment companies. At Principa, Perry has worked on extended projects within both South Africa and the Middle East with some of the largest financial organisation, providing on-site consulting within the collections and recoveries space covering strategy, process, people and technology.

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The 7 types of credit risk in SME lending

  It is common knowledge in the industry that the credit risk assessment of a consumer applying for credit is far less complex than that of a business that is applying for credit. Why is this the case? Simply put, consumers are usually very similar in their requirements and risks (homogenous) whilst businesses have far more varying risk elements (heterogenous). In this blog we will look at all the different risk elements within a business (here SME) credit application. These are: Risk of proprietors Risk of business Reason for loan Financial ratios Size of loan Risk industry Risk of region Before we delve into this list, it is worth noting that all of these factors need to be deployable as assessment tools within your originations system so it is key that you ensure your system can manage them. If you are on the look out for a loans origination system, then look no further than Principa’s AppSmart. If you are looking for a decision engine to manage your scorecards, policy rules and terms of business then take a look at our DecisionSmart business rules engine. AppSmart and DecisionSmart are part of Principa’s FinSmart Universe allowing for effective credit management across the customer life-cycle.   The different risk elements within a business credit application 1) Risk of proprietors For smaller organisations the risk of the business is inextricably linked to the financial well-being of the proprietors. How small is small? The rule of thumb is companies with up to two to three proprietors should have their proprietors assessed for risk too. This fits in with the SME segment. What data should be looked at? Generally in countries with mature credit bureaux, credit data is looked at including the score (there is normally a score cut-off) and then negative information such as the existence of judgements or defaults; these are typically used within policy rules. Those businesses with proprietors with excessive numbers of “negatives” may be disqualified from the loan application. Some credit bureaux offer a score of an individual based on the performance of all the businesses with which they are associated. This can also be useful in the credit risk assessment process. Another innovation being adopted internationally is the use of psychometrics in credit evaluation of the proprietors. To find out more about adopting credit scoring, read our blog on how to adopt credit scoring.   2) Risk of business The risk of the business should be managed through both scores and policy rules. Lenders will look at information such as the age of company, the experience of directors and the size of company etc. within a score. Alternatively, many lenders utilise the business score offered by credit bureaux. These scores are typically not as strong as consumer scores as the underlying data is limited and sometimes problematic. For example, large successful organisations may have judgements registered against their name which, unlike for consumers, is not necessarily a direct indication of the inability to service debt.   3) Reason for loan The reason for a loan is used more widely in business lending as opposed to unsecured consumer lending. Venture capital, working capital, invoice discounting and bridging finance are just some of many types of loan/facilities available and lenders need to equip themselves with the ability to manage each of these customer types whether it is within originations or collections. Prudent lenders venturing into the SME space for the first time often focus on one or two of these loan types and then expand later – as the operational implication for each type of loan is complex.   4) Financial ratios Financial ratios are core to commercial credit risk assessment. The main challenge here is to ensure that reliable financials are available from the customer. 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Coverage ratios are worked out considering the loan/facility that is being applied for. Finally, liquidity ratios indicate the ability for a company to convert its assets into cash. There are a variety of ratios used here. The current ratio is simply the ratio of assets to liabilities. The quick ratio is the ability for the business to pay its current debts off with readily available assets. The higher the liquidity ratios the better. Ratios are used both within credit scorecards as well as within policy rules. You can read more about these ratios here.   5) Size of loan When assessing credit risk for a consumer, the risk of the consumer does not normally change with the change of loan amount or facility (subject to the consumer passing affordability criteria). With business loans, loan amounts can range quite dramatically, and the risk of the applicant is normally tied to the loan amount requested. 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In the graph below the performance of an industry is tracked for two years and then projected over the next 6 months; this is then compared to the country’s GDP. As the industry appears to track above the projected GDP, a positive outlook is given to this applicant and this may affect them favourably in the credit application.                   7) Risk of Region   The last area of assessment is risk of region. Of the seven, this one is used the least. Here businesses,  either on book or on the bureau, are assessed against their geo-code. Each geo-code is clustered, and the projected outlook is given as positive, static or negative. As with industry this can be used within the assessment process as a policy rule or within a scorecard.   Bringing the seven risk categories together in a risk assessment These seven risk assessment categories are all important in the risk assessment process. How you bring it all together is critical. If you would like to discuss your SME evaluation challenges or find out more about what we offer in credit management software (like AppSmart and DecisionSmart), get in touch with us here.

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