Customers want brands to value them, respect them, and treat them like individuals. As commerce becomes increasingly distributed, Contact Centers are often the primary representatives of the business to customers. But, as Contact Centers evolve, the ways that customers interact with companies becomes increasingly complex. Today’s world is a multi-channel ecosystem where the final measure of success is not how hard you tried, but whether you delivered on customer expectations.
An effectively-managed Contact Center will contribute to customer satisfaction, business growth, and a strong brand. But even in progressive organizations, Contact Centers may not be getting the attention they need. Increased application of technology has enabled customer self-service and omni-channel access; however, research indicates that 63% of the time, the telephone is still the best method of communication for customer complaints. Although digital channels are growing in popularity, the phone still handles 57.7% of interactions.
These trends point to a need to invest in the emerging “super-agent” who will solve problems instead of handling routine inquiries, and who will leverage the omni-channel technologies. But if organizations are going to prioritize Contact Centers, they will require an integrated development strategy and clarification of key metrics that are both outcome- and process-oriented. Critical Contact Center metrics to consider:
- Time to Proficiency
In order to successfully satisfy customers and contribute to key business outcomes, a Contact Center needs to understand the process metrics that become the leading indicators of overall business impact. Two important metrics are turnover and time to proficiency. If the Contact Center becomes a great “first-job” destination, it could become a talent incubator that builds a strong brand with employees as well as the consumer marketplace. Improved Time to Proficiency helps drive productivity, but also contributes to more energized employees who become productive faster.
- First Call Resolution
Most centers have an extensive dashboard of operational metrics that may or may not be explicitly linked to the company’s business goals. One example is Average Call Time; short calls save money, but do they satisfy customers? Average Call Time is getting discarded in some companies in favor of First Call Resolution, which is more important to customers, who would rather spend a little more time with an interested advocate getting resolution. Contact Centers need to reach a balance between efficiency and effectiveness, meeting customer expectations and achieving both customer and agent satisfaction.
- Employee Engagement
A measure that is overlooked in many Contact Centers is Employee Engagement. The managers, leads and agents in these centers are your brand ambassadors. Often, they have more direct customer contact than any other function in your company. They need to be engaged, motivated, and trained in order for the customer interaction to be successful.
Tools that frequently evaluate Employee Engagement are available, providing analysis that can identify areas of challenge and opportunity. If the organization responds by promptly and transparently solving issues that are raised, it will improve service and engagement – for both employees and customers. This helps get agents invested in the organization and feel like business partners. The result of this effort is higher retention and agents who provide customer insights to management and strengthen your brand.
- Customer Satisfaction, and
- Net Promoter Score
The previously-mentioned measures contribute to more significant metrics, Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Customer Satisfaction measures whether customers received what they wanted as promptly as expected. Net Promoter Score requires deeper psychological investment by asking whether customers would risk their credibility by recommending the center’s service to friends or family. Both indicators are important and should be woven into the overall measurement system
Enterprise metrics should be focused on Lifetime Customer Value: how does the customer feel about experiences and the brand? Lifetime Customer Value (relationship retention), Intent to Make Next Purchase (relationship expansion), and Willingness to Recommend or NPS (new customers) should be evaluated together. If these metrics are measured, managed and improved, they will collectively contribute to growth.
As Phil Crosby said, “Improving quality requires a culture change, not just a new diet. “ While these five measures can be implemented quickly, achieving meaningful results requires that the “super agent” have the necessary knowledge, skills, and motivation to perform. The competencies for performance include problem solving, critical thinking, and the ability to have critical conversations. Putting metrics in place and setting expectations is just the start; you need to provide your workforce with the training and the tools to change behavior and drive those metrics. Is your Contact Center ready to be the best?
If you are interested in learning how we arrived at these conclusions, or how they would apply to your organization, contact PDG for an exploratory conversation at no charge.
Lorne Hamilton is the Vice President of Sales for Performance Development Group.