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Bedrock: A Flintstones Approach to Metrics that Matter

Bedrock is where Fred and Wilma raised their family in the cartoon series “The Flintstones” and an approach to developing meaningful “metrics that matter”.

Contact centers are more data-rich than ever – giving every level - from front line customer service representatives to the CEO – a wealth of data to work with.    The challenge is turning that data into actionable, relevant information and metrics.

In addition to generating “Big Data” storage and analysis approaches, the increased availability of data has spawned a proliferation of advice, approaches and articles about metrics  – which ones to use,  how to use them,  with lots of “top lists”, “must haves” and so on.

To do the right thing for their businesses, call center leaders need to continually ensure their metrics remain linked to the “bedrock” business outcomes which are critical to the success of their businesses and organizations.   

Establishing a tight linkage between metrics and “bedrock” business outcomes ensures that the customer service organization is clearly and visibly contributing to the bottom line.    It also quickly detects unintended consequences and scenarios like: 

  •  “Calls per customer are declining due to self-service and First Call Resolution but total minutes and costs are increasing” – because average call handle time has increased and inquiries are shifting to the chat and store channels.
  • “Customer Satisfaction scores are great - but revenue per customer is slipping, and expenses are rising” – because the customer satisfaction metric being used only captures one interaction - while customer experience is the sum of marketing, product, financial and customer service interactions.   (A topic covered nicely in “The Truth about Customer Experience”)
  • “Average Handle time per call is declining – but overall agent minutes are going up” – because customers are calling more frequently   (Scott Sachs talks about this phenomenon)
  • “Handle time is going down, inbound calls are going down, measured agent minutes are going down – but costs are still going up” – because outbound calls and chat transactions (which aren’t included in the metric) are going up.

Even balanced scorecard approaches can “miss the forest for the trees” when the underlying metrics aren’t tightly aligned with ‘bedrock’ or foundational outcome metrics

Bedrock metrics use:

Corporate financial reporting metrics – Including sales, customers, defections, loan originations, revenues, and expenses.

Holistic measures with a broad scope - End to end product/experience satisfaction,   total interaction minutes per customer and total cost per customer are good examples.   A holistic view ensures:

  1. The sum of the parts isn’t confused with the whole (e.g. customers satisfied with agent interactions but not the full experience)
  2. Leaders don’t miss channel and customer behavior shifts ( e.g. movement from calls to chat, movement from stores to the call center and movement of minutes from call volume to handle time).

Data generated directly from production systems – Telephone, chat and web inquiry volumes and durations sourced directly from the hosting hardware (or cloud).    Measuring how many times a customer actually interacts with a company is a ‘bedrock’ measure using real data.  In contrast, measuring whether customers think their issue was resolved is a helpful diagnostic – but not bedrock.

Consistent agreed-to third party information -with a quantified relationship to other bedrock metrics – JD Power's customer satisfaction scores that correlate with revenue are a good example.

A ‘bedrock” approach:

Detects unintended consequences -  by providing an end to end view anchored to financial data

Is a starting point for true transformation – because it tightly aligns Customer Service metrics with measurable financial outcomes

Provides meaningful metrics for outcome based “vested” outsourcing  arrangements – where both the outsourcer and the client company are on the “same side of the table” looking for the same outcomes (www.vestedway.com  is a good reference on the “vested” approach to outsourcing)

Keeps priorities aligned by flushing out prioritization issues related to “departmental” metrics  -  which sometimes result in only the CEO owning the  full customer experience.

One question that arises is – what about the other metrics we live by?  Service Level?  Abandon Rate?     The answer here is linkage – once bedrock metrics are established, the next task is to link process or leading metrics to these outcomes.   Six Sigma and other Quality Management approaches drive this kind of measurement approach.

While Bedrock City was the fictional home of the Flintstones (Fred and Wilma and Barney and Betty) it is also where relevant, meaningful metrics start.

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