Emerging trends in the marketplace are pushing contact centers in all industries to go social, mobile, and, in general, multi-channel; but shifting focus to these new service delivery models prematurely could put an organization at risk. Many contact centers don’t have the budget to heavily invest in these advanced technologies, and even if they do, moving towards new delivery models can distract focus from developing a strong operational foundation—a continuing weakness for many contact centers.
Before changing your contact center’s delivery model, your organization should first focus on improving current operations. A simple way to accomplish this task is by making sure you are using the right key metrics—the foundation of any good contact center. Traditionally, measures of success have included metrics such as average call length, average speed of answer, percent of calls answered within a certain time, and abandonment rates. While these metrics are useful and widely understood, there are better metrics that more broadly measure the true success of your contact center. These are five of the most impactful metrics:
Customer satisfaction - high loyalty, low effort.
Though many other metrics may be at or above target, if your customers aren’t satisfied with the service they receive, your customer retention may be at risk. Customer satisfaction has been directly linked to profitability through increased loyalty, and has been shown to reflect an inverse relationship with the amount of effort customers feel they have to expend to interact. Despite this, many organizations still do not measure customer satisfaction. This metric should be at the top of your list.
Your agents/service associates may be perfectly following their scripts and completing everything on their checklist, but how do they come across to your customers? Implementing a call quality program that measures both technical and soft skills will have a meaningful impact on the cost of your operations as well as customer satisfaction.
First call resolution (FCR).
Improving FCR benefits for your organization and your customers by making it easy for them to do business with you. Resolving your customers’ inquiries or issues in one call minimizes their level of effort. Typically, this translates to higher customer retention and loyalty, which in turn has a positive impact on your profitability. A higher FCR rate also lowers your operating costs, reducing repeat calls and follow up work. FCR can be a challenging metric to measure because it is up to the customer rather than the contact center to determine whether an issue has been resolved successfully; nevertheless, it is a metric worth putting at the top of your priorities.
Cost per call.
Although cost per call is an attractive and easily-understood metric for senior management, it often creates an adverse reaction in that calls are closed too quickly, resulting in lost revenue and lost loyalty building opportunities. Inappropriately short calls will produce a lower cost per call figure, appearing as though the contact center is doing well when the opposite may be true.
Cost per call is a delicate balance that is difficult to get right; however, this metric often resonates with senior management more than the customer-focused measures noted above. Focusing on positive improvements in traditional metrics like average handle time, schedule adherence, and agent occupancy will create appropriate movement in your cost per call.
If you haven’t already, you should begin thinking of your contact centers as profit centers rather than simply as service centers. Understanding revenue per call, value to the customer, and the overall effectiveness of sales efforts is vital to evaluating your contact centers’ performance. Consider the value of your contact center by evaluating the amount of revenue it generates as a profit center.
Witness significant improvements and cost savings without costly investments in technology.
Not surprisingly, the most common form of customer communication is still the phone. With a majority of interactions still managed via phone, it may be prudent to examine your current contact center operations before jumping on the trendy technology bandwagon. Cloud, social media, and mobile interactions are among the hottest trends in the contact center industry right now, but don’t overvalue them. Communication channels are only as good as the content in them.
To become a leader in the market, first benchmark your contact center metrics compared to industry standards, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and upgrade your operations where you have weaknesses. Only then can you focus on connecting with your customers across additional channels and leveraging the right technologies to do so.