Workforce Management Analytics: The Appointment Negotiations
Author: Michael Pistone
So, if I want to provide the best customer service, I’ll always give the customer the first appointment they request, right?
Nope, not always true. In most cases, establishing appointments with a customer is a negotiation. The call center will offer a date and time window. The customer rejects. The call center then offers a second appointment and so on. In some businesses, the call center asks the customer, “what’s the best time for us to arrive?” In theory, it sounds like amazing customer service. In the world of optimization, it can destroy your investment.
Let’s think about it this way. It’s Friday afternoon and our Boston field resource has jobs scheduled in Burlington (North) on Monday. In Cambridge on Tuesday and in Quincy (South) on Wednesday for the following week.
A new customer (located in Quincy) calls in for service. If we ask our Quincy based customer when they would like service, we hope they say Wednesday. If they say Monday and we commit, there will be excessive driving and lost productivity during the drive time to Quincy on Monday.
Now what if we were to offer our Quincy based customer 3 timeslots on Wednesday. If the customer says “no” to all three, then we offer 3 time slots on Tuesday.
At least the drive from Cambridge to Quincy isn’t as bad a Burlington to Quincy. Now we’ve offered 6 appointments to the customer, in the order that suited us best (see scoring in the above chart) So where am I going with all of this?
Multiply this single scenario times all of your customer appointments, across all of your resources, for an entire year. When we guide our customers to appointments that benefit our operations, the exponential impact is that our operations run more efficiently, getting more work done every day, and the long term result very well could be faster service overall or shorter appointment windows. In other words, the result of working efficiently may free up so much time that you are able to respond faster to your customers.
The chances that customers reject 6 appointment offers is rare, so why not offer appointments that reduce your cost and increase productivity, not to mention the reduction in travel will increase employee happiness, and offer them in an order from best to worst.
Do your call center representatives have insight into which appointments are best for your operations? Are you measuring the quality of appointments that are negotiated by your call center?
Do you provide your call center representatives incentive to always provide the best appointments?