Five metrics of the most customer-centric contact centres

True contact centre success comes when organisations make the critical switch from a ‘measure everything that moves’ mind-set to one of ‘measure what matters most’. Given that we are now living in the Age of Customer Influence, ‘what matters most’ is that which most increases the likelihood of the customer not telling the world how evil you are via Twitter.

No longer can companies coast on Average Handle Time (AHT) and Number of Calls Handled per Hour. Such metrics may have ruled the roost back when contact centres were back-office torture chambers, but the customer care landscape has since changed dramatically. Today, customers expect and demand service that is not only swift but stellar. A speedy response is appreciated, but only when it’s personalised, professional and accurate – and when what’s promised is actually carried out.

AHT and other straight productivity measurements still have a place in the contact centre (e.g. for workforce management purposes as well as identifying workflow and training issues). However, in the best centres – those that understand that the customer experience is paramount – the focus is on a set of five far more qualitative and holistic metrics.

1) Service Level

How accessible your contact centre is sets the tone for every customer interaction and determines how much vulgarity agents will have to endure on each call. Service level (SL) is still the ideal accessibility metric, revealing what percentage of calls (or chat sessions) were answered in “Y” seconds. A common example (but NOT an industry standard!) SL objective is 80/20.

The “X percent in Y seconds” attribute of SL is why it’s a more precise accessibility metric than its close cousin, Average Speed of Answer (ASA). ASA is a straight average, which can cause managers to make faulty assumptions about customers’ ability to reach an agent promptly. A reported ASA of, say, 30 seconds doesn’t mean that all or even most callers reached an agent in that time; many callers likely got connected more quickly while many others may not have reached an agent until after they perished.

2) First-Call Resolution (FCR)

No other metric has as big an impact on customer satisfaction and costs (as well as agent morale) as FCR does. Research has shown that customer satisfaction (C-Sat) ratings will be 35-45 percent lower when a second call is made for the same issue.

Trouble is, accurately measuring FCR is something that can stump even the best and brightest scientists at NASA. (I discussed the complexity of FCR tracking on my blog.) Still and all, contact centres must strive to gauge this critical metric as best they can and, more importantly, equip agents with the tools and techniques they need to drive continuous (and appropriate) FCR improvement.

3) Contact Quality and 4) C-Sat

Contact Quality and C-Sat are intrinsically linked – and in the best contact centres, so are the processes for measuring them. To get a true account of Quality, the customer’s perspective must be incorporated into the equation. Thus, in world-class customer care organisations, agents’ Quality scores are a combination of internal compliance results (as judged by internal QA monitoring staff using a formal evaluation form) and customer ratings (and berating) gleaned from post-contact transactional C-Sat surveys.

Through such a comprehensive approach to monitoring, the contact centre gains a much more holistic view of Contact Quality than internal monitoring alone can while simultaneously capturing critical C-Sat data that can be used not only by the QA department but enterprise-wide, as well.

5) Employee Satisfaction (E-Sat)

Those who shun E-Sat as a key metric because they see it as “soft”, soon find that achieving customer loyalty and cost containment is hard. There is a direct and irrefutable correlation between how unhappy agents are and how miserable they make customers. Failure to keep tabs on E-Sat – and to take action to continuously improve it – leads not only to bad customer experiences but also high levels of employee attrition and knife-fighting, which costs contact centres an arm and a leg in terms of agent re-recruitment, re-assessment, re-training, and first-aid.

Smart centres formally survey staff via a third-party surveying specialist at least twice a year to find out what agents like about the job, what they’d like to see change, and how likely they are to cut somebody or themselves.

For much more on these and other common contact centre metrics, check out Greg’s FULL CONTACT ebook and his blog, www.offcenterinsight.com.