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In your contact center, which metrics really matter?

Call centers measure all kinds of things from average handle time to first call resolution, attrition and much, much more. But ultimately, the metrics that really matter are the ones that affect the customer experience.

Customers want the right answer, the first time, and they want it fast. Consumers are well-informed and more empowered than ever before with tools like social media and other online outlets, and they expect a high level of service every single time they call.

At the same time, contact centers have received increased pressure to operate more efficiently with shrinking resources. Across all industries, the charge is to do more with less – all while keeping customers satisfied.

In the midst of all this pressure is the contact center agent, the leading role in the success of any customer experience improvement program. But finding the time to prepare agents to meet all of these demands is a huge challenge for even the best run centers.

How do you focus on the metrics that matter most to your center and drive improvement in the midst of such a pressurized operation? Whether you use Net Promoter Score, Customer Experience or others, three different perspectives provide insight into how you move the needle: the perspectives of the customer, the agent and the business.

What your customers want

Customers expect agents to be knowledgeable enough to resolve their issues and efficient enough to do it quickly. This expectation can be measured in part with metrics such as service level, FCR and customer satisfaction.

While service level addresses agent efficiency, FCR measures whether or not the agent was able to handle the customer’s issue in one call. Research shows that when customers have to call about the same issue a second time, customer satisfaction ratings take a huge hit, decreasing by as much as 45%. 

What your agents want

FCR is also an important metric for agents because it impacts other key metrics like attrition – a major expense for the contact center. Generally, agents who are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively handle customer inquiries are more satisfied with their jobs and therefore more likely to stay with your company.

Because happy agents equal happy customers, employee satisfaction is another key metric contact centers should measure to gauge how agents feel about their jobs and what they would like to see improved.

Agents want to feel good about themselves and their role in the organization. They also want to be recognized for outstanding performance and have access to personalized development. All of this requires ongoing training, coaching and communication – and all of it requires time.

What your business needs

In all of the metrics currently measured in your contact center, how many are directly related to the customer experience? How do you go about driving improvement in those metrics? What roadblocks are there to your preferred course of action? If the common roadblocks tend to be around time and resources, the answer could lie in going with the natural ebbs and flows of the call center instead of trying to fight the current.

Many contact centers are reevaluating the agent workday to find more time for critical off-phone activities like training and coaching that directly improve agent performance and productivity, while adding much needed variety to the agent’s workday.

What they are finding is that the time needed to complete these activities already exists in their centers – it just isn’t being utilized effectively.

Research shows that agents spend as much as 49 minutes of each day sitting idle at their desks, waiting for the next call. Unfortunately, this idle time comes in small increments of 2-3 minutes, which doesn’t allow for agents to complete any meaningful activity. Intraday management technology exists today to transform this aggregated idle time into larger chunks of active wait time for agents to complete tasks designed to make them better at their jobs. This response to fluctuating call volume makes time, previously unusable, available to use in the effort to improve the customer experience.

Activities such as online training, coaching, knowledge base reviews and back-office work are prioritized and dynamically delivered to the agent desktop during natural downtimes in call volume.  Service levels are protected as the technology continues to monitor call volume in case agents are needed to handle calls.

Responding to fluctuating call volume with activities that address the needs of the agent and the business means customers get the service they expect. Agent performance and satisfaction rises, and the business gets more efficient without sacrificing customer experience.