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Customer address verification during incoming calls

It is a fairly common practice to verify customer addresses with incoming calls, but it adds time to calls, says Lori Bocklund. Learn more in this expert tip.

We are an insurance service call center of over 200+ associates. I am a Process Design Consultant tasked with eliminating the large amount of returned mail that we receive due to bad addresses in our systems. As part of the solution, I would like to create a process within the call path for the customer service reps to verify the address of the agents calling in. I am getting resistance to implementing this process as it will increase the call talk time approximately 15-20 seconds. I feel that the benefits in customer service alone would justify this. My understanding is that it is a fairly common practice within the industry to verify customer addresses when the call comes in. Is this true? Have other companies had issues with implementing this process? Any information you can provide on this would be appreciated.
Sounds like a situation that calls for building a financial analysis. Yes, checking addresses will take time, and 15-20 seconds per call is not trivial in the potential impact on staffing, performance, and cost. Many companies include address verification as part of their security or identification steps. The key is to have a clear business reason for doing it, and to be able to see the value. If you can show that the cost saved in returned mail outweighs the cost of additional time for validating addresses, perhaps you'll have a better chance. I would also consider alternatives though - perhaps address update services, a round of proactive (perhaps outsourced) contact to update addresses, mechanisms to make it easy for your agents to update their addresses with you via the Web or on a speech-based system (tied to address services) are all possibilities.
This was last published in April 2004

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