Delivering a better payment CX that saves time and money

Delivering better customer experiences and reducing costs are high priority objectives for every contact center professional. However, finding significant operational savings that don’t impact on the CX can prove a difficult balancing act to achieve.  

The standard metric of how long a call takes (often referred to as average handling time or AHT) to resolve is often used as a way of understanding the overall efficiency of contact center operations.  Reducing call duration and phone payment transaction times through better scripting, agent training and process automation can shave time off a call – with every second counting towards improved productivity statistics – but at what cost to the customer experience? Optimizing how you quickly you process customer calls is also a key element of improving your CX metrics – the more efficient your call center is, the more customers you can serve.

So what can you do to improve your service levels and call throughput? The answer is to focus on finding ways to reduce the average handling time of calls.

Small improvements in average handling times add up to big gains

Achieving a 1-5% improvement in call handling times may not sound like a lot, but the good news is that even taking just a few seconds off every call can make a significant difference to your bottom-line numbers and your customer experience stats. Added to which, it will make life just a little bit easier for your agents and your customers.

So where can you find savings in average handling time in a consistent and high impact way?

First, let’s take a few steps back and look at the concept of employing a ‘marginal gains strategy’ in your contact center.  ‘Marginal gains’ is management speak for making small but measurable improvements across each element of your service.  Essentially, it’s thinking about improving every component of the call individually as a powerful way to create a big difference between you and your competitors.  While this may be something you already focus on today, there may be one aspect of your call handling process that you may have overlooked.

The answer to a more efficient AHT is right in front of you

We all know that smoother, faster, more consistent payment experiences lead to happier and more engaged customers – and happy customers are repeat customers who are loyal and spend more. However, saving a few seconds on every call isn’t about hurrying the customer or short-cutting processes, as that will impact on the rapport that your agents build with customers and the service levels you provide. So where you should you be looking to generate AHT efficiencies?

One obvious area for AHT improvement is during the payment process itself.  The problem here, however, is that the high levels of security dictated by the requirements of PCI DSS compliance means that process efficiency, and the customer payment experience itself, almost always take a backseat in the conversations about improving average call handling times.

Delivering better and faster payment experiences is one of those pivotal elements often ignored by CX and operations teams because it looks ‘too hard to do’.  This is mostly because interaction with the payment environment seems to be totally in the realm of the organization’s systems engineers and information security teams. These security experts often view any change to ‘their systems’ as a potential threat– as each change will require more resources to protect it (which they don’t have).  While this position and response will be fair in most situations, things don’t always have to be this way – and working with the infosec team doesn’t have to be such a big challenge.

Focus on the importance of the payment experience

From the customer’s perspective, the payment part of any interaction is a key moment of commitment and expectation.  It’s where they agree to trust you with their sensitive payment card data and you explicitly accept responsibility for their payment card information and deliver the services and products you promise.  On this basis, making each payment transaction secure, fast and painless should be a mission-critical objective for every organization, CX professional and their supporting infosec team.

Ultimately, delivering a great payment experience involves removing every obstacle in the payment process. That includes eliminating miscommunication errors or the need to transfer to other payment channels (such as IVR or dedicated payment teams). In other words, helping the customer to pay in the channel they choose makes real sense – for the customer and the organization itself.

Should payment security always override CX?

The information security team always seem to win the argument – ‘Security trumps everything. Period’ (or ‘fullstop’ if you’re a Brit!).

But there’s no reason why CX and infosec can’t both benefit from improving the payment experience for customers and reducing the resources required to maintain PCI DSS compliance. Indeed,Sycurio’s PCI compliance solution for phone payments and digital channel payments can dramatically improve the payment process for customers and agents (typically it’s faster by about 7-9 seconds per payment).  And most importantly, it completely removes the organization’s exposure to payment card data - moving the PCI compliance and reporting to as the self-assessment(SAQ-A) level.  

If you don’t know what ‘PCI DSS SAQ-A’ status means - it’s important. By removing your organization from PCI DSS scope you can save huge amounts of time, potentially tens-of-thousands of dollars, and free up skilled security resources to manage other projects.

Moving to the PCI SAQ level of compliance simplifies the whole process and removes the need for the annual PCI compliance inspection process by a PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) which involves a detailed audit of every system and person that is involved in the contact center payment process. This audit culminates in the completion of a report (known as the PCI Report on Compliance or ‘RoC’) by the PCI QSA auditor.  Many of the costs and compliance requirements become a thing of the past when you use Sycurio’s PCI DSS compliance solution.

How much could you save by using Sycurio’s PCI DSS compliance solutions?

Apart from the obvious benefits in time and resources saved for the infosec team by removing their need to maintain PCI compliance, your average call handling times can be reduced, and customer satisfaction stats improved by employing a better and faster payments interface for your customers and agents.

A simple calculation can easily quantify the benefit - a saving of just 5 seconds per call for an agent handling around 70 calls per day can create an efficiency gain of over 35 hours in a year.  Imagine what you could do with that productivity gain?


A disclaimer - this simple tool is just an illustrative guide and should be treated accordingly, if you’d like a live demonstration of the Sycurio payment experience for your contact center please get in touch.