Failure demand in a contact centre

How to reduce call volumes using Failure demand in contact centres

Understanding Failure Demand in a contact centre

There is a silent beast lurking in your contact centre, yet your customers and people are always talking about it.

It lurks behind the fog of call reasons and wrap codes but if you look and listen carefully, you’ll see it.

The name of the beast is FAILURE DEMAND and it’s stopping you and your team from delivering amazing customer experiences.

It’s the opposite is VALUE DEMAND, the type of interactions you want to be having, where you create value and deliver on your customer promise by helping customers get more out of their products or take out a new product.

Failure Demand in a contact centre is a scary beast because your customer is forced to contact you when they shouldn’t need to and distracts them from getting on with their day.

Failure Demand is broken processes, handoffs that get lost or an oversight in the customer journey that actually build failure into a process.

Have you ever had the option to choose ‘status update’ in an IVR?

That’s Failure Demand.

The problem with seeing Failure Demand is the fog.

The fog comes from looking at the outcome of the interaction rather than the reason for the interaction, the root cause.

An example of Failure demand in a contact centre

Here’s a really simple example:

I contact my bank because my latest statement has not arrived.

The consultant would probably capture this as a ‘statement enquiry’.

It’s not clear whether this is good or bad.

This is now in the fog where the Failure Demand beast lurks.

The really sinister part of the Failure Demand beast is what happens next.

Example of Failure Demand in a contact centre
This is the typical ratio of Failure to Value Demand in a contact centre

We capture the reason and then go ahead and build it into our forecasts which inevitably go up month after month, year after year even though we have an increasingly automated and digitised service landscape.

I have seen Failure Demand as high as 80% of all interactions.

Costs go up.

Then it gets worse, your people have an ever-increasing number of more challenging interactions to solve and unhappy customers to placate.

They get frustrated and lose confidence in the systems and processes and their leader’s ability to support them.

Engagement goes down.

This all lands on Leaders who now have CSAT, engagement and cost issues to resolve and a lack of capacity with which to solve it all.

How to overcome Failure Demand

Unfortunately, we aren’t given the language or the tools to deal with this issue when we start our contact centre careers.

The conventional management style that has prevailed has meant we have just ‘grown-up’ managing around this beast looking at outcomes, not root causes.

But there is another way.

Innovative contact centres leaders look at the systemic impacts on their customers, not just the amount of time it takes to move onto the next call.

They are removing entire types of contacts that are broken or sub-optimal and delivering big improvements in customer experience and operating costs.

This also creates more capacity in their teams to focus on strategic initiatives, development, training and leads to higher engagement.

Recommended further reading: How understanding Failure Demand can transform your contact centre (with some great examples)

Find a list of specialist contact centre consultants in the free CX Directory >>>

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Sean McGinn
About Sean McGinn 1 Article

For over 20 years Sean has worked in and lead every part of the contact centre, so he understands the unique challenges you face in making a transformational change. As a consultant at The Agile Contact Centre, he understands your challenges so he can identify and apply the right solution so you can achieve your goals.

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