Leveraging data insights is essential in making strategic business decisions. In the world of contact centers, there are so many metrics that can help illustrate the thousands of interactions that happen daily. These metrics, or key performance indicators, are how success is measured. As a company, it’s important to take a step back, look at the story the metrics are telling, and decide which metrics are the most important to truly measure success.
The key in determining the appropriate KPI metrics for your company is looking at your unique business and industry, and thinking about how you define successful customer service. For example, some brands may strive for extreme efficiency with their customer service, while others care only about high personalization and customization. One brand may even have a different focus at different times of the year. To measure customer service success, metrics that affect both employees and the end customer must be considered.
CHOOSE METRICS WISELY
Take average handle time (AHT) for example. AHT is a metric frequently used to determine how quickly agents are able to handle an interaction. AHT is great for seeing how quickly an interaction can be resolved, but may not be the right metric to determine overall success. Faster handle times look good on paper, but a quick interaction could also mean the customer did not receive enough information to actually solve their problem, though this is not necessarily the case. A fast but ineffective interaction could potentially result in decreased customer satisfaction (CSAT), and could mean that an employee is so focused on completing a quick interaction that they don’t perform as well as they could. This doesn’t mean that AHT isn’t a great metric, it just means AHT doesn’t tell the whole story.
Next, think about a first contact resolution (FCR) approach. With an FCR focus, interactions may be slightly longer in total handle time, but the focus will be on resolving the customer’s issue fully. This lowers the likelihood that a customer will have to call back for the same issue again. Although this method may seem like it will be more expensive and time consuming, in the long run it’s actually more cost-effective. Brands love to see low handle times, but what brands love more is satisfied customers. If customers are happier with their service because an agent took the time to accurately resolve their problem, they are more likely to become loyal customers of the brand.
This leads to customer satisfaction, also known as CSAT. With a CSAT focus you get the best of both worlds. Customers will be more satisfied if the agent they interact with can handle the request quickly and effectively. This means a fairly low average handle time, but with a personalized service that allows for a first contact resolution. CSAT surveys are an awesome way to help employees measure their success as service providers. These surveys lead to continuous improvement opportunities within contact centers, and allow for brand partners, customers, and employees to understand overall performance.
PAINT THE WHOLE PICTURE
When analyzing metrics and performance, it’s important to keep in mind that there are two sides to every story. For example, if CSAT scores were low, you have to read between the lines to figure out why. Are agents not willing to help solve customer questions, or are the agents performing well but are unable to fulfill customer requests as a result of brand policies that prevent them from being able to do so? It’s very possible that a customer can be dissatisfied with the outcome of the interaction, yet very pleased with the agent’s performance. Making metrics work means leveraging insights as a vendor, and working closely with your brand partners to enhance the quality of customer service through constant, incremental improvements. It’s crucial to find a balance between protecting the brand, customer, and agent, throughout the entire customer service experience.
SO YOU'VE CHOSEN YOUR METRICS...NOW WHAT?
You’ve determined which metrics tell the most accurate story, and have started capturing and analyzing data, but how can you take this data from the call center floor to the board room? When approaching your executive team to share metrics, think about telling the story of your findings rather than starting with the smaller details. Helping them to immediately understand the overall theme will prompt them to ask for the details to back it up afterwards. Charts and graphs help shape the story, but it’s delivering a recommendation based on these results, that will gain executive interest.
Providing a theme to shape the story around can help facilitate a reminder of why we are in this business. Our job is to enrich the lives of people by answering questions and solving concerns, but a graph or a chart alone can’t illustrate the types of interactions that agents are solving. We can’t lose sight of the story or the “why” behind the numbers. Gaining buy-in from your executive team is the final key step in making metrics work. With this buy-in, not only can metrics be captured and analyzed, they can also be optimized to enhance the quality of customer service.
At the end of the day, determining your core metrics will help provide the most relevant, big picture information at a glance to help gain buy-in from executives. It’s like looking at the cover and back page of a book, and every other metric, graph, and chart that is analyzed helps illustrate the finer details of the story.
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