LSA Global Insights Newsletter: Increasing Conversion Rates by 35% and Decreasing Handling Times by 27% at Gas South

11.30.2014

Increasing Conversion Rates by 35% and Decreasing Handling Times by 27% at Gas South


Situation

Gas South serves more than 260,000 residential, business and government customers in Georgia and Florida and is best known for innovation and community commitment. Because Georgia is a deregulated gas market, customers can choose the best provider. Gas South's business is seasonal. The busy "Light Up" season runs from September 1 to the middle of November and is the prime time to convert calls into sales.

After outsourcing their service center for years, Gas South decided to bring the service center back in house to more closely align customer service with Gas South's service strategy.

When Gas South took the service center in house, the staff was asked to service and sell to better match the customer buying and issue resolution process. Happily, most reps exhibited behaviors that showed commitment to making sure the customers received whichever service they are eligible for, adhered to very basic standards like answering the phone correctly and exhibited basic courtesies like saying "thank you" or "please" when appropriate, and followed customer verification requirements on direct calls.

Complications
  • While everyone was now expected to service and sell, not everyone had adequate service and sales skills to convert calls and give excellent customer service and the abilities varied significantly from rep to rep.
  • Some reps were struggling to effectively move customers from the initial decision point to buying.
  • Reps had to be trained to promote how the company provided a great service, motivate the customer to buy or address opportunities to sell long-term contracts.
  • There was an opportunity to increase urgency created by the reps and, in some instances, reps did not have the skill set to take the call that was routed to them.
  • Very little, if any, upfront discovery was done before quoting rates. When rates were quoted, they were given in a laundry list format without consideration for why one would choose a certain rate over another causing customer confusion and frustration.
  • The Public Service Commission in Atlanta requires that a certain number of calls be answered in a certain amount of time.
  • The call monitoring process was very detailed and sometimes missed the "essence" of the call while creating data overload and ambiguity for the reps and their managers.
Approach
  1. Conduct Sales Strategy Optimization Workout: Finalize the key success metrics to move and determine the critical few scenarios/call types with sales opportunities and craft an optimum and realistic approach to driving revenue.
  2. Design and Deliver Sales Pilot Session: Enable one core team to recognize and solve for top call types in order to impact sales conversion rate and average handling time.
  3. Train the Trainer: Enable one qualified Contact Center facilitator to deliver the sales workshops on an ongoing basis.
  4. Coach-the-Coach: Provide targeted performance methodology and feedback for customer service reps and their managers.
  5. Align Incentives: Update performance metrics and incentives to better align a sales and service culture
  6. Measure Results and Improve: Analyze the pilot deliverable results and critical few "Metrics to Move™" to determine next steps.
Metrics That Moved
  • 35% increase in Sales Conversion Rate in 8 months
  • 27% decrease in Average Handle Time in 8 months
  • A specific, clear and coach-able customer acquisition process helped to uncover other underlying performance management issues to be addressed

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About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned