As contact centers adopt more channels through which to communicate with customers and prospects, they would do well to reconsider how they measure the effectiveness of those channels in meeting corporate goals. In too many cases, companies are routinely using ineffective metrics while more effective ones are only starting to take hold.
What’s more, companies aren’t necessarily employing consistent measurements across all contact center channels, giving an incomplete or inaccurate picture of how effective their contact centers really are.
These are a couple of the upshots of a report from the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), “Understanding Modern Contact Center Metrics.” The survey is based on responses from more than 450 customer management professionals and was sponsored by Five9, which makes cloud-based contact center software.
Contact Center Managers are Measuring the Wrong Stuff
Companies tend to gravitate toward metrics that are easiest to measure, says Justin Robbins, Senior Analyst with ICMI. The company’s research found the most popular metrics contact center leaders measure are:
Service level/response time – 95%
Number of contacts handled – 89%
Contact quality – 88%
Customer satisfaction – 87%
First contact resolution – 73%
“Lots of organizations measure for these but when we ask why and what outcomes they’re looking to get, they’re not sure,” Robbins says. “They say, ‘We measure it because we always have.’”
In its study, ICMI was trying to understand what key objectives matter most to companies, so it could then determine which metrics they should be measuring.
Seven Key Metrics (Categories) to Measure in Your Contact Center
It found that most companies need to take a fresh look at the contact center metrics they measure. “Your measures and objectives should directly support your customer access strategy, providing a baseline and specifics on how well you’re delivering on it,” the report says.
It names seven key categories of measures that every contact center should have – in order from tactical, to strategic:
Forecast accuracy: predicting the workload coming your way
Schedule fit and adherence: follows from predicting workloads; best managed from bottom-up, with buy-in from agents.
Resource accessibility: getting customers to the right places at the right times
Quality and first contact resolution: must be applied to every type of interaction
Employee satisfaction: influences and drives customer satisfaction; also important in employee retention
Customer satisfaction: essential in all environments
Strategic value: the contributions the contact center makes to revenue, marketing initiatives, product innovations and other primary business objectives
For most organizations, the biggest change in adopting these metrics will be a shift to a more customer-centric view of the contact center, Robbins says.
“For example, how easy is it for customers to do business with you?” he says. “Few measure that but those that do create a more effortless experience for customers and see great results.”
Measuring the quality of the contact customers have with your contact center is another important measure. First contact resolution is part of the equation, but it can go much further. A mortgage company, for example, may have agents whose job is to call people and tell them their application was denied. That’s a difficult conversation to have, so a quality interaction may be delivering the news while offering an opportunity for financial coaching or free financial insights, he says.
For other companies, a quality contact may simply be a customer who is satisfied with their recent purchase. Measuring such metrics may mean conducting follow-up surveys or conducting focus groups, Robbins says.
For Best Results, Measure Consistently Across All Contact Center Channels
For any metric that you deem important, it’s also important to measure for it across all of your contact center channels, a task the ICMI survey shows many fail to do. While 95% of those that offer inbound phone to live customer service representatives monitor that channel for contact quality, only 47% do the same for email, 33% for outbound phone contacts, 28% for live chat and 9% for social media, the study found.
Those numbers generally reflect the level of adoption of each channel among companies. Chat, for example, is used by only about 40% to 50% of contact centers, Robbins says, and social media is likewise not highly supported and often falls under the marketing organization.
“The discussion we should be having is, if you’re going to measure quality, you need to measure it across all channels,” Robbins says. Failure to do so leaves an incomplete picture of the customer’s experience, he notes.
“If you’re only measuring one channel, you’re only optimizing around one channel,” notes Mayur Anadkat, Vice President of Product Marketing at Five9. “It’s not just how I feel when I call an organization that matters, but when I call, email, chat and so on.”
Cloud-based contact center software makes it easier to report on all of these metrics, Anadkat says. With premises-based hardware contact center solutions, it’s often difficult to extract meaningful reports and get them to the right people – particularly those on the business side. And those reports often missed the mark from a business perspective, Anadkat says.
“Modern web architectures make it far easier to extract reports on any number of metrics,” he says. What’s more, they come with dashboards that are easy for business people to use to run their own reports – without having to translate their requirements to IT.