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Getting it Right: The Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time, AND the Metrics You Should Deliver to the Rest of the Organization

Congratulations! You've forecasted your call volumes and created your staffing plan. You've taken into account all the offline time - time for breaks, coaching, training, follow-up work, and all the non-customer moments of the day. It looks good. You publish, and schedule the available employees, matching skill mixes and proficiencies and scheduling to meet benchmarked service levels. You're doing it all right.  You know you are.  So why are you still struggling with customer satisfaction? Your AHT is under control and you are meeting and exceeding goals for all your other KPIs. What's the problem? What's missing?

Most contact centers measure efficiency metrics like average call handling times, average wrap-up time and average time to answer. While they can help streamline contact center costs, they aren’t the metrics that can help transform overall organizational performance.  And some would even argue that they’re actually counterproductive as they’re too introspective and only focused on one part of a much larger sum. While these metrics are important to finance as tactical controls, the effects they have on overall organizational performance are minimal.  The most successful contact centers focus on the effectiveness of the contact center through the eyes of the customer, understanding the relationship between these metrics and organizational success.  Customer-based metrics - First Contact Resolution (FCR), Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort, are arguably the most important KPIs of all.  FCR in particular 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.

Contact centers that want to deliver exceptional customer experiences (and who doesn't?) must measure FCR rates or they will not be able to adequately understand what experiences they are delivering.  However, far too frequently they focus solely on measuring customer satisfaction which, alone, doesn’t provide the data needed to improve and transform performance.  By combining CSAT with FCR, you have an actionable measurement that allows you to develop your people, processes and technologies reveals the impact of corrective actions and enables genuine customer experience improvements.

So why don’t all customer-facing organizations measure FCR?  Firstly, FCR is a lot harder to capture than traditional internal efficiency metrics. FCR can be ‘measured’ with a tick box that an 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: by listening to a small percentage of calls and measuring those that are resolved on first contact, although again, it’s subjective - and also labor-intensive - and does not take into consideration that the call may not be the first contact but, more likely, the contact of last resort.  And of course, 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 contact flow via the customer ID or name – although this becomes quite complex with social media and additional customer channels. Anyway, although FCR may not be as simple to measure as the more traditional, single-sided metrics - the cost of not measuring FCR is something all organizations should consider.

The FCR example is simply that: an example.  Different organizations will need metrics that drive the most positive outcomes for them.  Without a doubt, 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.