Contact Centers, as an industry, have been around since the advent of telephony technology. That technological era has also enabled us to measure and track contact center activity quite accurately. For too many years, contact centers were focused on operating contact centers as efficiently as possible, not providing outstanding customer experience. Our early ability to track and measure activity resulted in a series of metrics being adopted to monitor the overall contact center performance.
These traditional metrics include average handle time, average wait time, occupancy, idle time, and service level among others. These metrics largely have a philosophical basis in Fredrick Taylor’s “The Principles of Scientific Management”, which still have a certain degree of operational relevance.
Even though managing to those metrics resulted in running contact centers efficiently (and thus became the new norm to benchmark against), it also resulted in contact centers blindly managing to those metrics alone, without any analysis of how they are servicing and satisfying their customers’ expectations today. In true Fredrick Taylor style, we still will find those same metrics present in most dashboards and reports used today.
But what about measuring the customer experience?
The issue with traditional metrics is that they are largely inward facing to a company. Customer service has evolved since those early days and the relevance of traditional metrics have waned in the current age of customer engagement. It is a fair question to now ask if these traditional metrics still make sense as the benchmark?
Today, contact centers increasingly understand the importance of providing excellent service to their customers, and as a result, they are adopting a customer-centric engagement approach. All aspects of customer contact need to be weighed for effectiveness and striking the perfect balance to maintain a continuous relationship.
For organizations to compete and differentiate themselves, departments such as marketing, sales and customer service must coordinate their varying points of contact across all channels – not to inundate the recipient, but to strategically keep the relationship alive.
Shifting from traditional to customer-centric metrics approach
With a customer-centric focus, new metrics should be introduced. Net Promoter Score, the likelihood of recommending your business to another, has traditionally been a metric tracked by marketing as a measure of success of the company brand.
Contact centers today have a deep impact to that brand. With the technical ability to offer surveys to customers to review their contact experience across all media channels – can provide insight for quality of relationship management. Surveys can be skewed, because someone receiving poor service may be more motivated to report on a bad experience, as opposed to someone who feels they got the experience they expected.
Businesses can implement technology that evaluates the tone of voice during a conversation via a multitude of media channels and rate the relative satisfaction of a customer through language and tone. Everything can be combined to represent how your customer experience is impacting that relationship.
Leveraging both approaches effectively
Traditional metrics can continue to help with internal efficiencies, but the actual metric result should be modified with a focus on the customer. For example, service level has widely been accepted in the industry to be the percentage of calls answered within a threshold and that it should align with the 80/20 rule (80% of calls answered within 20 seconds). The “Calls in Queue” or “Time in Queue” metrics that meet a certain threshold are alternative ways of measuring the same – customer wait.
In a customer-centric focus of contact center one may argue that great service and relationship management would mean never having to wait in queue. “Calls in Queue” and “Time in Queue” would then strive to be zero and service level would strive to be a 100/0 rule (100% of calls answered within 20 seconds).
Technology such as virtual queuing can be introduced to facilitate the drive to those metric values in concept. With virtual queuing, customers no longer need to sit on the phone until an agent becomes available. They can schedule a callback at a convenient time or just have the agent call back when their turn comes up.
Traditional evaluation would see this solely as inefficient. But today, one can and should calculate the financial impact on sales and recurring revenue to a reduction in “Net Promoter Score” and how managing to new metric values versus old metric values could impact that “Net Promoter Score metric.
Unlike the Fredrick Taylor days, measuring the relationship satisfaction today can effectively be translated to a financial impact, as technology now permits us to effectively evaluate satisfaction. Metrics change and accepted values shift as the expectation of great customer service and the company’s relationship with their customers.
Why will your customers come back and recommend you to others? Because you’re measuring how well you’re delivering what the customer wants.
Chris Theriault has over 15 years of experience helping mid-size and large contact centers with systems analysis, design, integration, technical support, architecture and solution engineering. He has been working at Aria Solutions since 2004, passionately focusing on system modernization and efficient operations. At Aria alone, Chris has worked on over 50 customer engagement projects, transforming operations and successfully achieving project goals.
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