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Making Metrics: The Significance of Surveys

Data. Metrics. KPIs. One thing is certain in the contact center; we have a lot of information. No matter what vernacular you use, chances are you are inundated with data, metrics, and KPIs. Our channel technology is designed to deliver contact statistics, service levels, and abandonments rates. Our CRMs compute FCR, response times, and case compliance. And our workforce team tells us about occupancy, attrition, and utilization. So why then, should we proactively reach out and try to generate more data to measure?

Because behind every metric, is a person. And every person has an opinion. And every opinion collectively creates a trend, a demographic representation, or a statistic. It is here in these measurements that true change can occur. All month long ICMI has featured articles from industry experts on the importance of metrics. In almost all of the editorials, CSAT, NPS, and engagement were mentioned. This is no coincidence.

As Robb Mandelbaum stated a few years ago in a still-relevant Inc. article, How to Conduct Market Research, “If you don’t know your customer, then you don’t know your business”.

In the contact center, our customers are typically both internal and external. In order to get a true picture of our success, we need to be measuring end-user satisfaction, as well as employee engagement. You’ve heard it before, “Happy agents, make happy customers”. In a recent study conducted by LiveOps, Harris Interactive, and Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, they found that 92% of consumers report that an agent’s perceived “happiness” has an impact on the customer’s overall experience with the brand.

That leads to the importance of taking survey metrics one step further, and analyzing what is happening with competitors and the industry. Although a contact center probably wouldn’t conduct this type of extensive research themselves, good benchmarking data is worth the investment. Not only can it tell you where your market or competition is headed, but it can also provide you with the data and ROI to convince senior executives to invest in new technology, resources, or initiatives.

For example, in a February 2013 survey conducted by Harris Interactive and inContact, it was found that:

  • 77% of U.S. adults feel that online chat is an important method of communication for companies to have
  • Two thirds (67%) of U.S. adults feel that consumers should have the ability to contact companies via SMS/text messaging
  • Over half (54%) of U.S. adults indicate it is important for to be able to communicate with a company via social networking sites
  • Seven in ten (70%) say that it is important for companies to have apps for mobile devices

Speaking of mobile and customer service, in late 2012, ICMI and Voxeo jointly surveyed the contact center community and determined that almost half (46.2%) of respondents didn’t know if they had executive buy-in for a mobile customer service strategy, while 22.1% were certain they didn’t have it.

When asked what their executives needed to see in order to add mobile as a customer service channel, three of the top responses were: ROI to the organization, more concrete and verifiable data, and recent case studies showing value and usage. All of these can be achieved by using metrics collected through surveys.

So what makes a compelling survey? While there are a lot of factors such as, length, purpose, and audience, there are a few considerations that remain relevant to any survey:

  1. Target Your Survey Target – it may be too daunting or too broad to survey your entire community or audience. Focus on a particular segment, or an area where known pain points exist. For CSAT, it’s usually best to randomize across all channels and customers, and then narrow down the data to determine gaps.
  2. Determine a Design – while online surveys have now become the norm, phone interviews are still best for complex and probing questions, where interaction between two parties is helpful in comprehension.
  3. Beware of Bias – make sure that you are not introducing your desired outcome into the survey. Ask open-ended questions that let respondents ponder. Use easily understandable and descriptive words. NPS-like questions provide good baselines and also help you compare and contrast against your corporate NPS. Finally, ask for suggestions!
  4. Dig for Demographics – even with an anonymous survey, you need to know the background of the people you are talking with. If you can’t glean this information from the backend survey tool, then you need to ask for it upfront. The attributes of your audience help you make informed and mindful decisions. Let’s face it, you can’t please all the people all the time, but you should strive to please your most valued community.
  5. Present a Personal Connection – make sure that the audience being surveyed can understand how the survey data personally impacts them. Do they feel their ‘voice’ is important to you? Do they think there will be change instigated by the results? Is there a reward or incentive?
  6. Use the Data – Once you have the great insight from customers, employees and your industries… please don’t neglect it. Tabulate the results, review the patterns, and make the necessary adjustments within your contact center. You made the metrics; now use the metrics. And make sure to share them, particularly to the audience that you surveyed. Go back to the previous point above, and ensure that you’ve reiterated that personal connection. This not only builds trust with your audience, but it also encourages them to participate and share feedback the next time you need them.

The bottom-line is this: you can’t always count on the right data coming directly to you. Oftentimes, you need to make these metrics happen in order to tell the complete story. All the other contact center metrics that we gather become irrelevant if we are ignoring what is happening with our employees, our customers, and our industry. Surveys can satisfy that need.

Oftentimes, you need to make these metrics happen in order to tell the complete story. All the other contact center metrics that we gather become irrelevant if we are ignoring what is happening with our employees, our customers, and our industry. Surveys can satisfy that need.