Published: August 11, 2014 | Comments
The scientist Galileo is credited with saying, “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.”
Many contact centers are great at this…at least the first part. They like to measure, measure, measure. And yes, metrics have been created for pretty much everything, from average handle time to transfer rate to cost per call to abandon rate.
But how do you know if you are wasting time measuring the wrong thing? Or if you’re missing something you hadn’t thought to quantify? To paraphrase Galileo, are you able to measure what is not currently being measured?
In a fervent zeal to quantify data, contact centers can easily miss these important steps:
1. Create specific contact center goals.
Many contact center managers would say, “Of course, I know what our goals are. Make everyone happy. Make a lot of money.” But it isn’t that simple. Contact centers are usually working with a limited budget and are operating in an era when the means of making customers happy is complicated. As a starting place, contact centers must figure out what their actual purpose is.
To start this process, locate your company’s mission statement. If it doesn’t exist, make sure one is created. Use this statement as a springboard to create a unique mission statement for your contact center. (For help on creating a mission statement, check out 5 Tips For A Useful Mission Statement from Inc. or How To Write Your Mission Statement from Entrepreneur.)
Next, create a separate list of specific goals that line up with your mission statement. It would also be helpful to set a predetermined time frame—like each fiscal quarter—to reevaluate these goals to see if they still line up with change and growth within the company. As you’re making decisions on what to measure, if all you’re asking yourself is “How can we measure that?” you’re missing the point. Ask yourself instead: “How is this particular metric contributing to our purpose?”
As part of this process, you also need to also find out what your brand has been promising. There is often a disconnect between what the marketing department is promising customers and what the contact center believes they are supposed to be delivering. When customers contact you with an expectation that you are not fulfilling, their satisfaction takes a nose-dive. Keep in mind this has to be a two-way street. While marketing is responsible for telling the contact center what has been promised, the contact center also needs to communicate their realistic capabilities, as well as the latest trends and customer feedback.
2. Focus only on the metrics and analytics that support your goals.
Creating a mission statement and setting goals might feel like extra work at the time, but it can be more than recouped by the amount of time you save, thanks to reduced data and calculations. This refinement then allows you to focus on what will really grow your business.
Former Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune once said, “Most businesses fail because they want the right things but measure the wrong things, and they get the wrong results.” Staying laser-focused on defined goals helps you to zero in on what will get the results you want. For example, if one of your defined goals is “increasing customer adoption of self-service systems,” you can focus on metrics around how often these systems are accessed or bypassed, as well as their mention in customer comments.
Another factor that may impact which metrics you focus on is the amount and type of competition you have in your particular domain. For example, if you are in a highly competitive business and your competitor launches a new, popular mobile app, then customer adoption and satisfaction with your own mobile tools becomes a priority.
3. Take into account new technologies and channels.
Now that newer channels such as email, text, web chat, and social media are becoming the norm, old metrics and KPIs just don’t work anymore. Customers expect different information and response times from different channels. (For a discussion of this phenomenon, see the article: I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want.)
According to Omer Minkara of Aberdeen Group, over half of all contact centers are using six channels to engage with customers and these centers can expect to have more than twice the customer satisfaction improvement as their single channel cohorts. He cautions, however, that “it doesn’t mean that simply adding additional channels to existing contact center programs will help businesses improve their performance results.” Rather, businesses need to follow best practice strategies in the areas of process, organization, knowledge management, technology, and performance management.
4. Pay attention to how multiple channels integrate.
If you think new technology metrics and KPIs are already difficult to pin down, remember that is only half the battle. You still need to figure out how the data from multiple channels interact with one another. For example, if a customer begins a conversation on social media, moves to text, then ends on a phone call, how do you plan to calculate the average handle time? What about first call resolution?
Part of the solution is to use integrative software to dismantle all information silos, thereby creating an effective flow of communication. If one channel doesn’t know what the other is doing, then integrating metric data becomes difficult, if not impossible. According to Minkara, “Companies can use contact center analytics tools to analyze historical and recent channel performance data to determine specific trends and correlations.”
Of course, keep in mind that integration within an organization is not enough by itself. Customers expect to experience seamless integration between these channels as well. (Check out the blog article 5 Tips When Adding Communication Channels Into Your Business.)
5. Relentlessly focus on customer experience and expectations.
Ah, yes. This is definitely the “age of the customer.” Customers hold the cards now. All of the cards. Customers can easily comparison shop between you and your competitors, easily finding the best prices and reviews. Plus, one negative comment on social media can go viral, bringing the company reputation down with it.
According to David Cooperstein at Forrester Research, we need to move beyond being customer-centric or customer-focused, and instead become customer-obsessed. Minkara adds, “Success in delighting customers requires businesses to have a keen understanding of the specific needs of each customer.”
For a contact center, this includes providing excellent quality of care on channels the customers enjoy and find easy to use. They then must find a way to measure customer satisfaction, using tools such as surveys or through real-time monitoring of social media.
Developing the skill of retaining customers can make the difference between success and failure of a company. According to Bain & Company, which produces the Net Promoter ScoreSM metric, a loyal or promoting customer has a value twice that of a passive customer and five times that of a detractor. That is reason enough for you to care passionately about customer satisfaction, regardless of your industry.
And hopefully, by locating and focusing on the metrics crucial to your success, you can spend more time doing what you do best—caring for customers.