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Measuring metrics that matter--to the customer

Key performance indicators (KPI) are all the rage for contact centers, but are you collecting the right ones? And what are you doing with them once you’ve got them?

Most contact centers measure efficiency—metrics like average call handling times, average wrap-up time and average time to answer. While they can help improve contact center performance, they aren’t the metrics that can help transform contact center performance and some would argue that they’re actually counterproductive as they’re too introspective. 

Successful contact centers focus on the effectiveness of the contact center through the eyes of the customer, not the company.  Measuring customer-based metrics, you’ll come up with arguably the most important KPIs of all - First Contact Resolution (FCR), Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort.  You may have noticed that these are getting a lot of press these days—and for good reason. As an example, FCR serves multiple purposes; if you improve your first resolution rate, your customers will have a better customer experience (and be more satisfied) AND if you can handle a customer issue in one contact instead of three, it costs a lot less.

Companies that want their contact centers to deliver exceptional customer experience (and who wouldn’t?) must measure FCR rates, or they will not be able to adequately understand what experiences they are delivering.  Often, companies focus on measuring customer satisfaction which, alone, doesn’t give you the data you need to improve and transform.  Combined with FCR, you have an actionable measure that allows you to work on people, process and technology to improve the customer experience and understand the impact of corrective actions.

But why don’t all customer facing companies measure FCR?  First up, it’s a lot harder to capture than the traditional internal efficiency metrics. FCR can be ‘measured’ with an agent tick box that the agent can check at the end of an interaction, but this is subjective as the agent may be wrong, or careless, or even trying to impact his/her compensation.  Another way is call monitoring: listen to a small percentage of calls and measure those that are resolved on first contact – although again, it’s subjective and also labor-intensive. You can send customer satisfaction surveys to customers or implement post call surveys, and last but not least, you can deploy specialist contact center technologies that analyze call flow via the customer ID or name – although with social media and additional customer channels this can be quite a challenge. 

The FCR example is simply that: an example.  Different businesses will need metrics that drive the most positive business outcomes and the best way to find out which are the right ones is to analyze inputs (agent skills and behaviours, processes, training, systems, etc.), correlate with outputs (positive and negative business outcomes), and focus on replicating the good and eradicating the bad.

A final thought - whatever your measures may be, one thing is certain: agents cannot be experts in every product, service and policy and can struggle to resolve complex customer enquiries in the crucial first contact.  That’s why it is vitally important to understand what matters and equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver exceptional customer experiences – not the things you think they need.

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