• February 1, 2013
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmarCustomerService.com

Case Management Takes a Dynamic Turn

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Case management used to be simple. A customer had a question regarding his bill, he called the contact center, an agent answered the call, accessed his account information, explained the charge, and both parties hung up satisfied. Case closed.

Today things are much more complicated. Case management involves many more moving parts. Many of the customer cases today that start off in a self-service channel and end up with an agent are complex and unpredictable. They come in via many different channels, covering an ever-growing list of issues and concerns, and require much more information and interdepartmental collaboration for agents to bring them to a resolution.

Fortunately, new developments in analytics, social media, integration, dynamic case management, and gamification enable today's customer care professionals to get a lot more out of case management than ever before.

A Case for Integration

TMA Resources, a provider of software to help professional societies, trade associations, labor unions, and other organizations communicate with their members, took a phased-in approach when it implemented a case management solution. The Vienna, Va.–based firm took almost a year to fully deploy a solution from Parature across its entire organization back in February 2005.

The company started with trouble tickets submitted internally before bringing the case management application to customer-facing parts of its operation. Today, about 80 percent of all employees across TMA Resources' customer service, professional services, IT, quality assurance, product development, human resources, finance, marketing, and partner development departments use the application for case management. Everyone in the company has a user ID for the system, which logs about 1,600 cases per month, says Anne-Marie Bitman, vice president of customer service and hosting.

The ability to go across departmental lines wasn't the only requirement the company had. "For it to be a successful launch, we had to wait for integration with all our internal systems," Bitman recalls. "We had so many business processes to incorporate across all our departments."

But the wait paid off. "If you look at the long-term benefits, you will see real productivity gains," Bitman says.

Among those gains, Bitman notes that within the first year, TMA Resources reduced administrative costs by 25 percent, mostly because account specialists were not cutting and pasting data into multiple case and account records. The company also saw the number of open tickets drop by 25 percent, while customer satisfaction levels increased fourfold and the number of dissatisfied customers was cut in half.

But the real benefit is the data that the system provides. When a case is closed, managers can see, for example, how long it took to resolve the issue, which steps were taken during the process, and which agent handled the case. The system can also provide trending data so Bitman and other managers can see what led the customer to contact the company in the first place. With that information, company leaders can take steps to minimize future cases around that same issue.

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