Implementation Award: Elavon
Vendor: Verint Systems
Product: Impact 360 Speech Analytics
Going for the save is always an exciting moment in sports, but for global payment processing provider Elavon, the expression also has taken on a multimillion-dollar meaning.
That’s because in the past year, Elavon, an Atlanta-based subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp that serves more than 1 million merchant customers worldwide, deployed a speech analytics solution from Verint Systems that not only helped it save more than 2,000 accounts at risk of taking their business elsewhere, but in doing so saved the company $5.4 million in what would have been lost revenue.
“A merchant might call into customer service, upset about rates or fees, and looking to end the relationship. We would call that a ‘closure trigger,’” says Roman Trebon, Elavon’s senior manager of customer life cycle management, who led the project. “Sometimes [the triggers were] very obvious and simple, but other times there were clues we really depended on the agent to pick up on, like a merchant asking for three months’ worth of statements, or asking specific questions about rates or our chargeback policies.”
Before Trebon turned to Verint, the company relied on its customer service agents, based in a call center in Knoxville, Tenn., to notify Elavon’s retention team back in Atlanta about accounts that could be jeopardy. The retention team then had seven business days to call back a merchant and try to resolve the issues. “The process had a lot of holes in it because it’s agent-dependent, and we have about a 20 percent to 25 percent turnover,” Trebon explains. “So we’d have all of these new agents coming in, calls were falling through the cracks, and we were losing a lot of large relationships.”
But a save wasn’t far away, and the star player was Verint’s Impact 360 Speech Analytics software, which was already in use at Elavon’s Knoxville location for quality-monitoring purposes. “We looked at other companies, but because we already had the Verint tool, integration was very easy,” Trebon says. “It was also easy for us to import our custom data.”
Another key selling point was Trebon and his team would have total control over the creation and upkeep of a library of words and phrases that would flag merchant calls as at-risk. “Our definition of at-risk changes all the time, so we liked having the ability to make changes on the fly,” he says.
To get the process started, Elavon agents listened to a sampling of recorded calls from closed merchant accounts and fed questionable language into the Verint tool. Impact 360 also offered suggestions, “so if you put in a word like ‘ridiculous,’ it would pull up all the calls where someone said that and give you suggestions of what else the merchants were saying on those calls,” Trebon says. “That helped us build a robust library.”
In all, the library grew in excess of 500 words and phrases. Once the library was ready, the software tested, and Elavon’s staff trained, Impact 360 went live—within three months from start to finish and at a cost of $300,000. When the system flags a call as at-risk, it routes the call to a specific folder within the system that is addressed by an analyst within 24 hours, depending on the value of the merchant. “If a guy says ‘ridiculous’ once but he’s really high value, we’ll look at that call over a person who says ‘ridiculous’ 10 times but is only worth a couple hundred bucks,” Trebon explains. Of the calls to which the agents respond, the save rate is between 90 percent and 96 percent.
The software also makes it easy for analysts to navigate flagged calls, some of which can go on for more than 30 minutes. Calls are transcribed about three hours after they come in, with at-risk words and phrases highlighted for an employee to click on. “Within 30 seconds you can tell, ‘Wow, this merchant is pretty upset.’ Or he’s saying something, but he’s not upset,” Trebon says.
Impact 360 worked out so well at the Knoxville center that Elavon is implementing the software at three call centers in Europe, Trebon says. The company is also evaluating how it can use the solution to improve its inbound and outbound sales process, as well as across the life cycle of its merchant accounts. “We’re now starting to look at how we can integrate the speech software to make business decisions,” Trebon says.
- More than 2,000 at-risk merchant accounts saved, valued at $5.4 million;
- Increased responsiveness to at-risk merchants, who are contacted within 24 hours instead of one week; and
- Insight into customer issues that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to detect.