Analytics help Western Union deliver loyalty-building service experiences

A few years ago my son was traveling abroad and ran out of money. We scrambled to figure out how to transfer funds and discovered that good old Western Union was the best option. There was a fair amount of stress involved on both ends, but Western Union came through for our family, using a combination of virtual (web site on our end) and physical (store on the other) resources.

Looking back, it didn’t seem all that complicated. But as explained by Steven Sigman, Western Union’s Head of Global Customer Care, our scenario is just one of a dozens of possible send-receive possibilities. As Western Union has embraced digital channels, it also continued to support traditional phone and storefronts experiences in 200 countries using 120 currencies. His customer service operation spans 3500 contact center seats (often staffed by outside firms) who serve 70 million senders annually.

In other words, a very complex operation. Gives me a headache just thinking about it.

As Sigman notes, handling money is an emotional transaction, and “customer service is extremely important to validate consumers trust.” To deliver a loyalty-building service experience, they have invested in Quality Management tools to help the agent workforce to improve, and shifted to customer-centric metrics like First Call Resolution (FCR). Studies have shown that increasing the percentage of “one and done” calls is linked to improved customer satisfaction and reduced costs.

But the challenge was trying to find key opportunities for improvements. That’s why a NICE speech analytics solution was deployed.

As a simple example, let’s say a customer calls in and wants to fund a transfer with a credit or debit card. All goes well until — oops — the card is declined. If the agent is not prepared to handle that situation, that leads to a transfer to a specialist, which frustrates the customer and increases costs.

Sigman said analytics helped them identify the problem and match it to specific call types. To help agents through these situations they upgraded training and implemented online help tools. This implementation has been active for just a few months, but has already resulted in “huge improvements” (reductions) in transfers.

In the future, they plan to evaluate real-time analytic tools to try to give agents advice or suggest offers, right when a customer is on the call.

I write about this example because I’d like to see more companies using analytics for win-win outcomes. Western Union shows that analytics can be used to save money (fewer transfers) while also making money (increasing loyalty) by improving the service experience. Here’s hoping more companies do the same!

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