Speech Analytics Boosts Customer Service for Bluegrass Cellular

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Bluegrass Cellular, a wireless service provider based in central Kentucky, offers national and international service to customers in 34 of the state’s counties. It prides itself on outstanding customer support, which led it to merge two similar support teams into a single technical support team.

The plan was for senior-level agents to focus on providing enhanced Level 2 technical support to customers experiencing wireless equipment problems, according to Robin Fentress, the carrier’s director of customer support. But, instead, the combined team spent a large amount of time on simple, nontechnical calls that could have been resolved at its retail stores or by Level 1 support staff.

By reducing Level 2 call volume by 10 percent, Bluegrass Cellular executives figured they could save 3.5 percent of annual operational and labor expenses, but before they could hit that goal, they needed to better understand their service call trends. Doing so would enable them to intervene with the most appropriate corrective actions, according to Fentress.

So in late 2018, the company selected Calabrio's speech analytics program. Bluegrass didn't consider competitors because of its success using Calabrio's call recording solution, Fentress said. Bluegrass went live with Calabrio's analytics solution in March 2019.

To get started toward its goal, the carrier needed to define the phrases that speech analytics would analyze. Working with Calabrio, it solicited feedback from experienced team members, listened to calls with above-average durations, and listened to recorded calls to identify frequent phrasing used in trouble-shooting calls and those in sales and services calls.

Calls typically handled by Level 1 support staff included these:

  • correct alls—when devices that aren’t synced to the database don’t work properly;
  • past-due accounts;
  • voicemail password resets;
  • portable numbers—when a cell phone number can be ported (transferred) from another carrier to Bluegrass Cellular; and
  • good-standing accounts.

By evaluating and understanding the context of calls, the Bluegrass-Calabrio team developed a process automation plan to direct the five types of calls and put together a training program so Level 1 support staff could handle the calls without escalating them to Level 2 support staff.

Retail and Level 1 teams were trained to better use available resources and to become more comfortable and confident in their customer interactions.

Bluegrass Cellular also built custom graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to automate various processes. For example, one GUI enables agents to determine online—without needing to contact technical support—whether a customer's cell number is portable.

By eliminating unnecessary calls to its Level 2 team, Bluegrass Cellular increased customer satisfaction, enhanced the productivity of call center agents, and enjoyed quantifiable benefits, according to Fentress.

Though the carrier initially hoped to reduce calls handled by Level 2 teams by 10 percent, the training and routing succeeded so well that it actually shrank that number by 14 percent, leading to additional, significant cost savings. Fentress estimates the operational savings are $100,000 annually. Additionally, first-call resolutions rose by 20 percent.

"We've generated real results that free our Level 2 team to handle escalated customer concerns, and we dramatically impacted our ability to operate as a highly efficient and effective contact center," Fentress says. "Even though we've just begun, we're already busy imagining what's next."

Looking ahead, the carrier is working to use the Calabrio solution to identify additional phrases that can clearly indicate different calls (Level 1 or 2) and training needed. Fentress adds that the carrier is also looking to speech analytics to help with COVID-19-related calls.

The development team is also building a GUI to deliver automated messages to agents handling existing accounts with past-due balance requests with recommended actions to be taken.

The Payoff

Since implementing Calabrio's analytics solution, Bluegrass Cellular has seen the following results:

  • operational expenses have gone down by $100,000 annually;
  • first-call resolution has increased by 20 percent; and
  • calls handled by Level 2 support teams have decreased by 14 percent.

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